Live Updates: France Furious with U.S. Over 'Regretful' Partnership with Australia

Live Updates

Following the announcement of Aukus, a trilateral partnership between the United States, Britain and Australia to help Australia build nuclear-powered submarines, the deal has received criticism from U.S. allies and adversaries alike.

Chinese officials accused the U.S., U.K., and Australia of a "Cold War mentality."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it "seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race."

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the deal "a stab in the back," after it lost its deal with Australia to build 12 submarines. He said President Joe Biden was acting like his predecessor Donald Trump.

During a press conference with Australian counterparts, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called France "a vital partner" and welcomes European countries to continue to play a role in the region.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin said that while Aukus is "not aimed" at anyone specific, it will create an "integrated deterrence in the region" to allow the U.S. military to more effectively work with its allies in their shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

France is furious with U.S. over its deal with Australia

France released a press statement expressing its frustration with the United States over its deal with Australia.

The statement said the U.S. plan to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines is a "regrettable decision" that is "contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia."

"The American choice which leads to the removal of an ally and a European partner like France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values ​​or on respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law marks an absence of coherence that France can only observe and regret," the statement said.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a press briefing Thursday that the U.S. values its relationship and "long-standing partnership" with France.

"We don't see this from our end as a regional divide," she said.

During a press briefing with Australian counterparts, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called France "a vital partner on this and other things."

"We strongly welcome European countries to play an important role in the Indo-Pacific," he said, expressing interest to cooperate with NATO and the EU.

Blinken noted that the U.S. discussed the AUKUS partnership with France before and after it was announced.

U.S., Australian officials meet to discuss relations between the nations

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defence Llyod Austin met with their Australian counterparts Thursday to mark the 70h anniversary of the AUZUS Treaty and to discuss their new defense alliance with the U.K. in the Indo-Pacific.

U.S. Australia Meeting
(L-R) Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pose for a group photograph at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 16, 2021. The US announced a new alliance September 15 with Australia and Britain to strengthen military capabilities in the face of a rising China, with Canberra to get a nuclear submarine fleet and US cruise missiles. Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty Images

Australia is "open to dialogue" with China, foreign minister says

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that Australia is "open to dialogue" with China over their efforts in the Indo-Pacific.

She said Australia "places great importance on the relationship" with China and says officials have sent an "open invitation" to Chinese President Xi Jinping and her counterpart.

She said dialogue is helpful to air out differences and concerns and believes that "any mature actors would consider that in a constructive way."

Secretary Austin says AUKUS deal is "not aimed" at China

When asked if the AUKUS deal to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines was aimed at China, Secretary Llyod said that the agreement "is not aimed at anything or anyone."

Rather, it is "intent to help improve trilateral cooperation and capabilities across the board, Austin said.

Austin's Australian counterpart Peter Dutton noted China's criticized the deal, claiming it will make the region less safe and less stable.

Dutton said this "is not the first time we've seen an outburst from China" and emphasized that Australia is a proud democracy in the region that works to "ensure enduring peace" in the Indo-Pacific.

"This collaboration makes it a safer region and no amount of propaganda can dismiss the facts," he said.

Secretary Austin says AUKUS will help security efforts against China

U.S. Defense Secretary Llyod Austin boasted about the new trilateral security partnership with Australia and the U.K during a press briefing Thursday.

He said that efforts to help Australia acquire nuclear-power submarines will "improve Australian navy's reach and defensive capabilities."

This new deal will also contribute to what Austin called "integrated deterrence in the region" to allow the U.S. military to more effectively work with its allies in their shared security interests.

Such interests include China's move to intimidate other countries and its "economic coercion" against Australia.

Austin said "we will remain clear-eyed" on China's efforts to destabilize the international order.

Sectary Blinken welcomes France in Indo-Pacific dealings

During a press briefing with Australian counterparts, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Bliken called France a "vital partner" in the Indo-Pacific following the announcement of the AUKUS nuclear submarine defense deal.

"We welcome European countries playing an important role in the Indo Pacific," Blinken said, "France in particular is a vital partner on this, and so many other issues"

Blinken was joined by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton and U.S. Defense Secretary Llyod Austin.

EU sets forth new strategy in the Indo-Pacific

The European Union has put forth a new strategy in the Indo-Pacific following the AUKUS defense partnership.

EU Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister said the new strategy confirmed the EU's "increasing relevance" in the region.

"It should be about enhancing our geopolitical and geo-economic capacity to act in this region, based on a pragmatic, flexible and inclusive approach," he said in a tweet.

He added that the prosperity and security of the EU is linked to its ability to "effectively represent our interests in this highly dynamic region."

The EU’s prosperity and security is increasingly linked to its ability to effectively represent our interests in this highly dynamic region. The strategy should allow us to adapt and build cooperation with different partners according to specific policy areas.

— davidmcallister (@davidmcallister) September 16, 2021

France compares Biden to Trump over Australia deal

France accused President Joe Biden of acting like his predecessor Donald Trump after the country was pushed out of its defense deal with Australia.

The United States partnership with Britain and Australia to secure the Indo-Pacific and supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. This deal scrapped a $40 billion deal France designed with Australia.

"This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told franceinfo radio. "I am angry and bitter. This isn't done between allies."

Biden said Wednesday that France remained a "key partner in the Indo-Pacific zone."

President Biden highlights strong relationship between U.S. and Australia

President Joe Biden said the partnership between the U.S. and Australia that was established with the ANZUS Treaty is "as essential today as it's ever been."

He said the two nations will "continue to stand together and defend the principles we share," including supporting a free open Indo-Pacific and promoting economic prosperity in the region.

Recently, we marked the 70th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty. As @POTUS said, our enduring partnership with Australia strengthens "the fabric of peace" in the Indo-Pacific region. #AUSMIN

— EAP Bureau (@USAsiaPacific) September 16, 2021

EU official says he was not consulted on the AUKUS defense pact

The European Commission said the EU was not consulted about the AUKUS deal ahead of its announcement by U.S., U.K. and Australian leaders.

"We were not informed, we were not aware," High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell told reporters Thursday.

He added that this deal makes the EU's Indo-Pacific strategy even more important.

"The world's centre of gravity is moving towards the Indo Pacific, both in geo-economic and geo-political terms," Borrel said in a statement. "The futures of the EU and the Indo-Pacific are interlinked. Our engagement aims at maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, while building strong and lasting partnerships to cooperate on matters from the green transition, ocean governance or the digital agenda to security and defense."

Chinese ambassador slams 'zero-sum game' Aukus deal

Despite Aukus leaders insisting the security is not to front up to China, Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Deng Xijun, says the countries will "lift a rock that drops on their own feet".

The nuclear submarine coop btw #US, #UK & #Australia has undermined regional peace &stability, intensified arms race &damaged global nuclear non-proliferation efforts. #AUKUS should abandon #ColdWar &zero-sum game mentality or they will lift a rock that drops on their own feet.

— Ambassador Deng Xijun (@China2ASEAN) September 16, 2021

Blinken says U.S.-Australia relationship "has never been stronger"

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United State's relationship with Australia "has never been stronger."

"If we look at what the United States and Australia are doing together – bilaterally, regionally, globally – this partnership has never been stronger," Blinken told reporters Wednesday.

Blinken met with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne Wednesday to mark the 70th anniversary of signing the ANZUS Treaty. The pair discuss their "shared commitment to ensuring the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, Blinken said in a tweet.

Payne said the meeting sent "a strong message about the warmth, the depth, the breadth of the Australia-U.S. alliance and the work that we're doing together to deal with some of the most contemporary challenges."

Payne and Blinken were joined by U.S. Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton Thursday for the 31st Australian-United State Ministerial Consultation (AUSMIN) to discuss strategic foreign and defensive policy.

AUSMIN is the principal forum for Australia-US cooperation on strategic, foreign & defence policy. @PeterDutton_MP & I look forward to productive discussions with @StateDept @SecBlinken & @SecDef for the 31st #AUSMIN meetings today. 🇦🇺🇺🇸

— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) September 16, 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency will engage with AUKUS effort

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will work with the U.S., the U.K. and Australia on their trilateral effort to support Australia with nuclear-powered submarine capabilities.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the three countries aim to maintain "the strength of both the nuclear non-proliferation regime and Australia's exemplary non-proliferation credentials" and promised to be "engaging with the IAEA throughout the coming months."

"The IAEA will engage with them on this matter in line with its statutory mandate, and in accordance with their respective safeguards agreements with the Agency," Grossi said in a statement.

I've been informed by Australia, UK & U.S. of their trilateral effort on nuclear naval propulsion. The @IAEAorg will be engaging with the three countries on this matter.

— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) September 16, 2021

European Council President calls for "common EU approach" in Indio-Pacific

European Council President Charles Michel said the AUKUS partnership "further demonstrates the need for a common EU approach in a region of strategic interest."

He added that a strong European Union Indio-Pacific strategy is "needed more than ever."

The #AUKUS security partnership further demonstrates the need for a common EU approach in a region of strategic interest.

A strong EU Indo-Pacific strategy is needed more than ever

I welcome today’s presentation of @JosepBorrellF strategy

On the agenda of the October #EUCO

— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) September 16, 2021

Boris Johnson says AUKUS deal will "create hundreds of high-skilled jobs"

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the AUKUS deal will create "hundreds of high-skilled jobs."

"The project will create hundreds of high-skilled jobs across the U.K.," Johnson said in front of Parliament Thursday, "reinforcing our industrial base and our national scientific expertise."

He said the deal will provide a new opportunity to "strengthen Britain's position as a science and tech superpower" and will reduce the cost next generation of nuclear submarines.

The UK, Australia and the USA are forming a new trilateral defence partnership that will preserve security and stability around the world.

It will also create hundreds of high-skilled jobs across the country, driving forward our levelling up agenda.#AUKUS

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) September 16, 2021

'France can only note and regret': French ministers issue angry statement after Australia scraps sub deal

In a joint statement from French Minister Of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-yves Le Drian and Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, they said the decision by Australia "is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust as well as on the development of a very high-level defense industrial and technological base in Australia".

The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner such as France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values or in terms of respect for multilateralism based on the rule of law, shows a lack of coherence that France can only note and regret. The regrettable decision that has just been announced regarding the FSP program only reinforces the need to make the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear. There is no other credible way to defend our interests and our values in the world, including in the Indo-Pacific.

The ministers added that France is the "only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific with nearly two million citizens and more than 7,000 military personnel."

'We have taken note of that': China denies port access to German warship

China rejected a planned stopover of a German warship in a Chinese port, in a sign that hostilities between China and Western allies are stopping conventional agreements.

The frigate left Germany last month for a tour of the Indo-Pacific region as part of the German government's effort to increase its activities there, alongside its allies.

"After some consideration, China has decided that it does not want a port visit from the German frigate Bayern," said Maria Adebahr, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. "We have taken note of that."

Part of Germany's recently-announced new Indo-Pacific strategy includes an emphasis on free passage for ships, particularly through the Strait of Malacca that links the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Australia sidelines France for nuclear deal with U.S.

Australia decided to invest in U.S. nuclear-powered submarines, dumping its contract with France to build diesel-electric submarines because of a "changed strategic environment", Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday.

French officials were notified yesterday afternoon that it would end its contract with state majority-owned DCNS to build 12 of the world's largest conventional submarines. Australia has spent AU$2.4 billion ($1.8 billion) on the project since the French won the contract in 2016.

Morrison said the U.S. technology wasn't an option open to Australia when the AU$56 billion ($43 billion) deal was struck in 2016.

WATCH: Moment Taiwan expels Chinese military aircraft during drills

North Korea lashes out at U.S. over boosted ties with Taiwan

The country used the interim period between launching two sets of missiles over the past several days to support its Chinese allies and warning the U.S. to avoid creating trouble over the sovereignty of Taiwan.

The criticism came in the form of an article, where a government-backed analyst suggested military moves are perceived by Pyongyang official as defying Washington and Beijing's precarious yet formative understanding of the status of the island-based Taipei government.

FULL STORY: Between Missile Launches, China Ally North Korea Lashes Out at U.S. Over Taiwan

Taiwan intercepts nine-strong fleet of Chinese military aircraft

The group took off from coastal China and flew sorties near the island on Wednesday as Taiwanese armed forces conducted anti-landing drills as part of their largest annual military exercise.

The Republic of China (ROC) Air Force tasked combat air patrols and issued radio warnings to approaching People's Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes, which were also tracked with surface-to-air missile systems as they entered the southwest corner of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), Taiwan's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

An ADIZ is a category of airspace that extends beyond a country's territorial airspace, often used to request advanced identification of foreign civil and military aircraft.

FULL STORY: Taiwan Air Force Expels China Warplanes During Anti-landing Drills

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Tensions are growing over a newly-announced security pact between the U.S., U.K., and Australia as countries in the Indo-Pacific region take sides over Taiwan and China's expansion tactics in the East China and South China seas.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Thursday for all the latest reaction.

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts