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China Wants to Join Southeast Asia’s Nuclear-Free Zone

A greater factor in China’s calculus is the AUKUS alliance among the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Under the security partnership announced in September, the U.S. and U.K. agreed to equip Australia with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. China wants to even the score. In a phone call with counterparts from Malaysia and Brunei that same month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi skewered AUKUS as anathema to the Bangkok Treaty. “The United States and Britain chose not to participate in the SEANWFZ [Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone] Treaty,” Wang reminded his peers. “Instead, they have transferred military nuclear technology to the region under various pretexts and also provided the region with highly enriched uranium materials, running counter to the efforts made by ASEAN countries to build a nuclear-free zone.”

China Wants to Join Southeast Asia’s Nuclear-Free Zone. Why Now? LawfareBy Ryan A. Musto Thursday, December 9, 2021  China is ready to rock with the Treaty of Bangkok.

In a rare appearance at the special online summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Nov. 22, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that China is prepared to sign the protocol of a 1995 agreement that establishes Southeast Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Under the agreement, known as the Bangkok Treaty, 10 regional states renounce the right to nuclear weapons in any form within the ASEAN zone. If it joins the treaty, China would agree not to use or threaten the use of nuclear weapons within the zone or against its members. It would make China the first nuclear-weapon state to adhere.

China’s support for the treaty is no surprise. To strengthen its enduring “no-first-use” policy to never initiate nuclear conflict, China routinely has asserted (most recently in a 2019 white paper) that it “is always committed to … not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.” For the Bangkok Treaty, ASEAN and China agreed in 2011 to a secret memorandum of understanding that preserves China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, removing the greatest hurdle to Beijing’s commitment. China was ready to sign the protocol and memorandum in 2012 but deferred once the other eligible “P-5” nuclear-weapon states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty—France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.—refused to join. Now, Xi wants to legally bind China to the treaty “as early as possible.” But what’s the rush?

Adherence to the Bangkok Treaty would burnish China’s image amid its rapid expansion in nuclear capabilities…………

A greater factor in China’s calculus is the AUKUS alliance among the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Under the security partnership announced in September, the U.S. and U.K. agreed to equip Australia with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. China is furious and wants to even the score. In a phone call with counterparts from Malaysia and Brunei that same month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi skewered AUKUS as anathema to the Bangkok Treaty. “The United States and Britain chose not to participate in the SEANWFZ [Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone] Treaty,” Wang reminded his peers. “Instead, they have transferred military nuclear technology to the region under various pretexts and also provided the region with highly enriched uranium materials, running counter to the efforts made by ASEAN countries to build a nuclear-free zone.”……….. https://www.lawfareblog.com/china-wants-join-southeast-asias-nuclear-free-zone-why-now

December 11, 2021 - Posted by | China, politics international

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