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President Biden at the White House during a virtual event Wednesday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

China's D.C. embassy said Thursday in response to a new security pact between the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia that the countries should "shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice," per the Australian Associated Press.

Why it matters: The AUKUS partnership is a warning to China's government as the Biden administration moves to counter Beijing in the Indo-Pacific. It's also raised the ire of the French government, after the countries revealed the U.S. and U.K. would help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

  • French officials condemned the deal because it means that the $90 billion submarine contract with Australia's government that France won in 2016 has been abruptly scrapped.
  • Australia has spent AU$2.4 billion ($1.8 billion) on the project.

What they're saying: Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., likened the pact to cold war policies and said countries "should not build exclusionary blocs targeting or harming the interests of third parties," per AAP.

  • In France, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly issued a joint statement on Wednesday, calling the decision to end the French deal "regrettable."
"The American choice to push aside a European ally and partner like France from a structural partnership with Australia at a time we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region ... shows a lack of coherence that France can only acknowledge and regret."
— Le Drian and Parly

The big picture: Chinese military power in East Asia has been approaching parity with the U.S. in recent years, and Beijing has been constructing or leasing military bases for its own use around the Indo-Pacific, Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian notes.

  • Chinese military activities in the South China Sea in particular are viewed by the U.S. as a top security threat.
  • China's government has also sent military jets to fly near Taiwan's airspace this year in what it said was a warning to "foreign forces" over the democratic island it claims is a breakaway province.

Of note: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference on Thursday welcomed the focus on the region, but said Australia's new submarines wouldn't be permitted in its territorial waters due to the country's long standing nuclear free policy.

The other side: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his country's switch, telling reporters that the $2.4 billion already invested "has further built our capability and that is consistent with the decision that was taken back in 2016 for all the right reasons to protect Australia’s national security interests and has served that purpose."

  • Morrison said there's "an open invitation" for talks with President Xi Jinping.
  • The Biden administration did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Biden's muddled China policy

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2021 - Technology

FCC votes to halt China Telecom operations in U.S.

A meeting room in the Federal Communications Commission headquarters. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to revoke authorization for China Telecom's U.S. subsidiary to operate in America, citing national security concerns.

Why it matters: The state-owned China Telecom is one of the largest telecommunications companies based in China. It has provided services in the U.S. for nearly 20 years but must now cease operations within 60 days.

Oct 27, 2021 - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Oct 26, 2021 - World

Ted Cruz will lift his confirmation blockade for Biden’s ambassador to China

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) does not plan on stalling the confirmation of President Biden's ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, as he has done with dozens of other State Department nominees, according to a source familiar with the decision.

Why it matters: Burns, a former career diplomat widely viewed as one of Biden's most qualified nominees, will be tasked with managing the president's defining foreign-policy challenge: preventing "intense competition" with China from spiraling into outright conflict.