The leaders of the United States, Britain and Australia have outlined their defense strategy for the Indo-Pacific region that includes plans for a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
President Joe Biden welcomed his counterparts for talks in the West Coast city of San Diego, home of the US Pacific Fleet. Their partnership is known as AUKUS.
Biden said; "Our unprecedented, trilateral cooperation I believe is testament to the strength of the longstanding ties that unite us and to our shared commitment of ensuring the Indo-Pacific remains free and open."
Under the deal, the US plans to sell Australia three of its latest fast-attack submarines in the early 2030s, with an option for Canberra to purchase two more if needed.
The leaders say by sharing technology, the Australians will eventually be able to obtain their own nuclear powered fleet.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said; "The AUKUS agreement we confirm here in San Diego represents the biggest single investment in Australia's defense capability in all of our history, strengthening Australia's national security and stability in our region."
AUKUS was launched to counter China's development of advanced military technology, including hypersonic weapons.
In 2021, officials in Australia backed out of a major deal with France to acquire diesel-powered subs.
They stressed the need to modernize their fleet amid a worsening "strategic environment."
China has reacted sharply to the trilateral deal.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said; "The joint statement indicates that they have gone down a wrong and dangerous road for their own selfish political gains. This is in complete disregard of the concerns of the international community."
Wang called on the three countries to abandon what he referred to as their Cold War mentality and not to destroy peace and stability in the region.