aukus indonesia urges china and australia not to embark on new asia pacific arms race after nuclear deal - Aukus: Indonesia urges China and Australia not to embark on new Asia-Pacific ‘arms race’ after nuclear deal

Indonesia has rallied behind a list of countries in expressing worry about an arms race in the Indo-Pacific region following Australia‘s announcement to acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of the new trilateral security alliance with the United States and Britain.

The Indonesian foreign ministry on Friday said it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region”.

The foreign ministry called on Canberra to maintain its commitment to regional peace and stability. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison told ABC radio on Friday that Indonesia’s government had been informed about the plans and he intended to speak to Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

US president Joe Biden announced the ‘Aukus’ alliance through a joint virtual event with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and the UK’s Boris Johnson on Wednesday. The alliance will enable Australia with technology and nuclear power submarines to respond to Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea.

The US and its allies have been trying to push back against China’s maritime claims over the disputed regions of the South China Sea.

Indonesia’s navy has increased patrols around its Natuna islands after Chinese and US vessels were detected in the country’s waters. “We are worried that we will be caught in the middle of a war and that it will be unsafe for us to search for fish,” said Hendri, the chairman of a fishing alliance in Natuna after fishermen reportedly spotted six Chinese ships, including warships, in Natuna waters.

The country, in 2017, renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, as a counter to China’s ambitions.

Meanwhile, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday said that Australia’s new nuclear-powered submarines would not be allowed in its territorial waters under the 1984 nuclear-free policy.

Criticising the new alliance, the Chinese government described it as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the three countries were “severely damaging regional peace and stability, intensifying an arms race, and damaging international nuclear non-proliferation efforts”.

France too denounced the pact and accused US president Joe Biden of stabbing them in the back. The west European country’s response comes Australia scraped the $40 billion French-designed submarine deal and joined hands with US and UK.

“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr (Donald)Trump used to do. I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies,” French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told franceinfo radio.

Additional reporting from agencies.

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