China weighs in on Macron-Morrison fallout: 'STOP IT'

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·News Reporter
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China has weighed in on the fallout between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and French President Emmanuel Macron after Australia ditched its submarine deal in favour of one involving nuclear-powered alternatives with the US and UK.

There has been intense media scrutiny of the pair's first face-to-face meeting since Mr Macron reacted angrily to the AUKUS announcement, and on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow on Monday he accused Mr Morrison of lying about the scrapped $90 billion deal with the French.

"I don't think, I know," he said in a brief yet damning response when asked if he believed he'd been deceived.

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Emmanuel Macron has accused Scott Morrison of lying to him over their now scrapped submarine deal. Source: Getty

Mr Morrison refuted such claims and said he would not tolerate such "slurs" against Australia.

On Tuesday evening, China joined the commentary when its foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin was pressed on the matter at his department's daily media briefing.

Unsurprisingly, his words were far from complimentary, suggesting Mr Morrison had misled Mr Macron.

"Australia should not only give honest answers to its partner's questioning, but also honestly face up to the international community's concerns, earnestly fulfil its non-proliferation obligations, and stop such irresponsible behaviour as creating bloc confrontation and proliferation risks," he said.

China has repeatedly criticised the AUKUS arrangement that will see a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines developed in Adelaide, insisting it only increases the possibility of developing nuclear weapons in the future. 

Wang Wenbin called on Australia to be honest. Source: FMPRC
Wang Wenbin called on Australia to be honest. Source: FMPRC

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian previously said the new deal "seriously damages regional peace and stability, intensifies the arms race, and undermines the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons."

It comes after a torrid 18 months between China and Australia where relations have rapidly deteriorated over a series of matters including what Beijing says is continued interference with its internal matters.

Biden 'did not know' French hadn't been told

US President Joe Biden has also spoken of the handling of the French deal, which he conceded was "clumsy".

He also said he believed Mr Macron had been informed of the decision to terminate the deal beforehand.

"I was under the impression that France has been informed long before that the deal was not going through. I honest to God, did not know you had not been," Mr Biden told Mr Macron at the G20 summit in Rome last week. 

Sources on the Australian side close to the matter revealed to the Daily Telegraph Mr Macron was aware of the chance the deal could be scrapped and shared messages of the two leaders' exchanges.

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