20 May 2024

Joining AUKUS could be seen as 'taking sides' - Chinese ambassador

1:03 pm on 20 May 2024

Wang Xiaolong. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

China's ambassador to New Zealand says AUKUS is a nuclear-based military alliance "unabashedly" designed to maintain US hegemony, and New Zealand should think hard before joining it in any form.

The government has said it is "a long way" from deciding about participating in AUKUS Pillar 2, a pact that the AUKUS Pillar 1 partners - the US, UK and Australia - say is aimed at sharing advanced non-nuclear military technologies.

But Dr Wang Xiaolong dismissed this in a speech at the 10th China Business Summit in Auckland on Monday.

"The sole purpose of its 'second pillar' is to serve and support nuclear-related military cooperation under the 'first pillar', rather than being an innocent platform for technology sharing," his speech notes said.

"Many people in New Zealand and beyond believe that joining such an alliance in whatever form is taking sides."

It was New Zealand's call to make, but China hoped and trusted this country would make its decision "taking fully into account its own long-term fundamental interests" and the need to promote stable bilateral relations and to preserve the "hard-won peace in the region and the world".

AUKUS Pillar 1 was announced in 2021 as aiming to provide nuclear-powered - but not nuclear-armed - subs to Australia.

"You may have noticed that top US diplomats have stated that the purpose of AUKUS is to preserve US primacy, and they have openly linked AUKUS nuclear submarines with the situation in the Taiwan Strait," Wang said.

The US Deputy Secretary of State last month made an unusual linkage between the pact and deterring any Chinese move against Taiwan.

"This confirms that AUKUS is a nuclear-based military-nature alliance clearly and unabashedly designed to maintain US hegemony and contain other countries' development," the ambassador said on Monday.

Military alliances were a poisoned chalice "better at winning wars than keeping the peace" and tended to exacerbate confrontation, so AUKUS would not make the region more stable, he added.

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