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Asia-Pacific does not need “submarines and gunpowder,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, calling the trilateral pact between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, nicknamed AUKUS, to derail peace in the region.

Speaking on Wednesday, Zhao Lijian criticized the nuclear submarine deal between the three powers, saying it had intensified the arms race and went against the wishes of countries in the region.

“Faced with the common challenge of tackling the epidemic and reviving the economy, the people of the Asia-Pacific region need growth and jobs, not submarines and gunpowder. “ Instead, according to the Beijing spokesperson, “The countries concerned should do more to help regional peace and development”.

Zhao previously called the deal, which is widely seen as a strategy to counter China’s growing assertion in the region, “extremely irresponsible” after its announcement last week. Under the agreement, which the three nations believe is dedicated to a “Free and open Indo-Pacific” Australia is said to have nuclear-powered submarines, but conventionally armed.

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Beijing is not, however, the only regional power to have expressed its concerns about the pact.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned AUKUS allies that the deal could in fact “To provoke other powers to act more aggressively in the region, in particular in the South China Sea”. Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry also said it was monitoring the deal. “With caution,” and urged Australia to meet its obligations “Maintain peace, stability and security” as stated in the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation – a pact of peace signed by the nations of Southeast Asia.

Unlike some of its neighbors, the Philippines said the country welcomed the new security deal, saying it could be beneficial in the long run in addressing the power imbalance in the region.

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