Beijing’s tantrum over Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine deal with the United States and Britain has escalated even further, with a top Chinese academic in Beijing warning the nation is now a target for ‘nuclear war’.
Victor Gao, who was once communist leader Deng Xiaoping’s translator, made a thinly-veiled threat that the AUKUS pact announced last week was a ‘gross violation of international law’ that will have ‘profound consequences’ for ‘brainless’ Aussies.
His comments have followed several days of dummy spits by Communist Party bureaucrats crying foul that their ambitions of dominating the seas of the Indo-Pacific have been met with pushback from democratic adversaries.
After secret negotiations with his counterparts in Britain and the US, Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week announced a deal for eight nuclear-powered submarines – much to China’s fury.
While the exact design and costs of Australia’s subs have yet to be revealed, US Virginia-class nuclear subs cost around $4.5bn each and UK Astute-class $2.6bn each.
Beijing’s tantrum over Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine deal with the United States and Britain has escalated even further with a Chinese official saying the nation is now a target for nuclear war (pictured, a Tomahawk cruise missile is fired by the US Navy)
Beijing has reacted furiously after the AUKUS deal was announced last week (pictured, Chinese President Xi Jinping stands on a military jeep 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA)
‘Armed with nuclear submarines, Australia itself will be a target for possible nuclear attacks in the future,’ the vice president for thinktank the Centre for China and Globalisation told ABC’s China Tonight.
‘You do not need to know whom it will be.
‘The watershed moment will be if Australia will be armed with nuclear submarines to be locally produced in Australia.
‘That will mean Australia will lose that privilege of not being targeted by nuclear weapons to other countries and that should be a wake up call for all Australians.
‘Do you really want to be a target in a possible nuclear war or do you want to be free from nuclear menace?’
When pressed by host Stan Grant about why Australia would be a nuclear target given the submarines are only nuclear-powered and won’t carry nuclear warheads, Mr Gao merely repeated his bizarre threat.
‘Anything you do will have a consequence, and this is the most profound consequence,’ he said.
‘And Australia and the United States and United Kingdom are being accused of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is a gross violation of international law.
‘And it will have consequences’.
His belligerent tone has sadly become synonymous with Communist Party lackeys who were once guided under Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy: ‘Hide your strength, bide your time.’
Britain and America are to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as AUKUS to combat China (pictured, a British Astute-class nuclear sub which is likely to mirror the Australian design)
The pact does not make the design of Australia’s new submarines clear, but they will be based on previous US and UK designs. Pictured above is a cross-section of Britain’s Astute-class nuclear attack subs, which is likely to mirror the new vessels
Mr Gao slammed Canberra’s close military ties with Washington, claiming Australia has a ‘blood treaty’ with the US (pictured, a United States Navy Los Angeles class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine is dry docked at Naval Base Point Loma)
What is a Wolf Warrior Diplomat?
Chinese diplomats around the globe have made headlines in recent years by making aggressive public statements against democratic nations – often in to the contrary of all available evidence.
Political observers say such statements are made to impress Communist Party bosses back home in Beijing so they get noticed.
The term Wolf Warrior is actually a Chinese action film franchise launched in 2015.
The plot of the 80s-style action films centre around a patriotic Chinese soldier who takes on enemies from all over the world and is fearless in the face of danger.
But in more recent years, after Xi Jinping abolished term limits in 2018 to declare himself President-for-life, the authoritarian state has become increasingly aggressive both in their actions and their rhetoric.
China has been rapidly increasing the size of its own naval fleet – including nuclear-powered sub – as its lays claim to disputed territories in the South China Sea by militarising man-made islands in contravention of international law.
The totalitarian regime has also stamped out democracy campaigners in Hong Kong and vowed to annex Taiwan by force.
So its been no surprise Beijing’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomats have gone on the attack over the AUKUS deal as the landmark security arrangement threatens President’s Xi’s ambition of China becoming the dominant naval power in the Indo-Pacific.
Mr Gao slammed Canberra’s close military ties with Washington, claiming Australia has a ‘blood treaty’ with the US.
‘If the United States fire any single shot, you the Australians will have no choice but to fight together,’ he said.
‘In Afghanistan, in Korea, in Iraq, wherever the Americans find themselves in a war – the Australians are on the American’s side, as if the Australians do no have any brain power left – as if you only have your muscles.’
He went on to warn that Taiwan is ‘part of China’ and slammed the ABC host for referring to an ‘invasion’.
‘Listen to me – the reunification of Taiwan will happen by peaceful means preferably, and by non-peaceful means if necessary,’ he said.
‘No country will be able to deprive China’s mission of national reunification.
‘If the Australian government want to stand in the way of that, be my guest – you will see what will be the consequences to Australia.’
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) during a virtual press conference with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden to announce the landmark deal
Why Australia needed a new deal with the UK and the US: Australia’s defence capabilities are dwarfed by those of China
Australia is now set to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to present a counter-balance to Beijing’s growing navy, and will also be sharing other advanced military technologies with Washington and London
His threats of a nuclear strike come just days after the Communist Party Mouthpiece the Global Times published an article citing an anonymous ‘senior Chinese military expert’ spouting similar propaganda.
‘This would make Australia a potential target for a nuclear strike, because nuclear-armed states like China and Russia are directly facing the threat from Australia’s nuclear submarines which serve US strategic demands,’ the expert said.
‘Beijing and Moscow won’t treat Canberra as ”an innocent non-nuclear power,” but ‘a US ally which could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime,’ the expert added.
Australia’s diplomatic relationship with its largest trading partner has been on the rocks since April last year after Mr Morrison’s government called for an independent inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic – which first appeared in Wuhan at the end of 2019.
Australia’s diplomatic relationship with its largest trading partner has been on the rocks since April last year after Mr Morrison’s government called for an independent inquiry into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic (pictured, Chinese military in Beijing)
The plea for transparency infuriated Beijing who retaliated by imposing arbitrary bans and tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Australian goods including barley, wine, cotton, seafood, beef, copper, and coal.
Australia in the past was resistant to building a nuclear-powered fleet as it would have required civil nuclear power capability onshore, but advances in military technology available via a deal with the US and UK mean that is no longer an issue.
At the same time an increasingly belligerent and hostile China motivated Mr Morrison to plan and set up the historic AUKUS military alliance which will see Australia get its hands on up to eight nuclear-powered submarines.
It marks the first time in 50 years that the US has shared its submarine technology, and Australia will be only the second country to receive it – after the UK.
Australia will join an elite group of nations operating nuclear-powered subs that includes France, China, India and Russia. The deal will not give Australia nuclear weapons, as the country has a long-standing commitment not to develop them.
Beijing’s tough-talking bureaucrats have gone on the attack over the AUKUS deal as the landmark security arrangement threatens President’s Xi Jinping’s (pictured) ambition of China becoming the dominant naval power in the Indo-Pacific
China has inflamed tensions in the South China Sea in recent years by expanding its claimed territory, to the objection of its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific
China has transformed several uninhabited islands in the South China Sea into military bases and has begun warning ships away from them, including threatening rival naval vessels
Why is Australia building nuclear-powered submarines?
Why nuclear submarines?
Nuclear submarines are powered by nuclear reactors which produce heat that creates high-pressured steam to spin turbines and power the boat’s propeller.
They can run for about 20 years before needing to refuel, meaning food supplies are the only limit on time at sea.
The boats are also very quiet, making it harder for enemies to detect them and can travel at top speed – about 40kmh – for longer than diesel-powered subs.
The first nuclear submarines were put to sea by the United States in the 1950s. They are now also in use by Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, and India.
A senior US defence official told reporters in Washington DC: ‘This will give Australia the capability for their submarines to basically deploy for a longer period, they’re quieter, they’re much more capable.
‘They will allow us to sustain and to improve deterrence across the Indo-Pacific.’
Zack Cooper, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, said nuclear submarines would hugely boost Australia’s military capability.
‘They are going to be much, much more capable in the large, expansive ocean that is Australia has to deal with,’ he told the ABC.
Will Australia have nuclear weapons?
Scott Morrison made it clear that the nuclear-power submarines will not have nuclear missiles on board.
Australia has never produced nuclear weapons and signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1973 which prevents non-nuclear states which don’t already have them from developing nuclear weapons.
Mr Morrison also said the Australia has no plans to build nuclear power stations which are widely used around the world.
‘But let me be clear, Australia is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons or establish a civil nuclear capability,’ he said.
‘And we will continue to meet all our nuclear non-proliferation obligations.’
Are they safe?
The nuclear reactors are shielded from the rest of the submarine in a separate section to protect the crew from dangerous radiation.
The US has an excellent safety record with its nuclear-powered fleet although early Russian subs suffered a few accidents which caused 20 servicemen to die from radiation exposure between 1960 and 1985.
At the end of their 20-year lifetimes, the contaminated parts of nuclear reactors need to be disposed deep underground in special waste storage cells.
Anti-nuclear campaigners say any leaks of radioactive waste could lead to an environmental disaster.
Greens leader Adam Bandt called the submarines ‘floating Chernobyls’ in reference to the 1986 nuclear power plant explosion in the Soviet Union.
Australia needs to replace its six ageing Collins-class submarines.
In 2016 it signed a deal with French Company Naval Group to build 12 diesel-electric attack subs – but the parties were in dispute over the amount of building that would be done in Australia.
That deal has now been torn up in favour of nuclear powered subs aided by the US and UK who will provide the technology to Australia.
The West is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific region where it has made huge territorial claims in the South and East China seas, clashed with Indian troops and repeatedly flown planes over Taiwan.
Mr Morrison wants Australia to have serious defence capability to deter China from encroaching in the Pacific and long-range nuclear submarines are just the ticket.
China has vastly built up its military in the past few years and now possesses six Shang-class nuclear powered attack submarines, equipped with torpedoes and cruise missiles.