China’s ambassador to the United Nations warned on Tuesday against measures that could fuel a crisis like the Ukraine conflict in other parts of the world when asked about a deal between Britain, the US and Australia on hypersonic weapons.
“Anyone who do not want to see the Ukrainian crisis should refrain from doing things which may lead the other parts of the world into a crisis like this,” Zhang Jun told reporters.
“As the Chinese saying goes: if you do not like it, do not impose it against the others.”
The three western countries on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare capabilities, UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s office said, following a call between leaders of the new defence alliance.
The new AUKUS alliance, launched last September, prompted Australia to cancel a contract for a conventional French submarine in favour of a nuclear submarine program supported by the US and Britain, damaging relations between Canberra and Paris.
In a joint statement, the three said they were pleased with the progress of the programme for conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, and that the allies would co-operate in other areas too.
“We also committed today to commence new trilateral cooperation on hypersonics and counter-hypersonics and electronic warfare capabilities,” the statement said.
The US and Australia already have a hypersonic weapon programme called SCIFiRE, an acronym for Southern Cross Integrated Flight Research Experiment.
UK officials said that though Britain would not join that programme at this point, the three countries would work together on research and development in the area to expand their options.
Biden’s administration is investing in the research and development of hypersonic missiles, which travel at five times the speed of sound, as Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine has intensified concerns about European security.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell