France is so angry over President Joe Biden’s new trilateral defense deal that it cancelled a U.S. gala and said the situation reminded them of something former President Donald Trump would do.
Biden announced a new trilateral partnership with Australia and Britain on Wednesday evening. The initiative, called AUKUS, is dedicated to strengthening America’s alliances and its first order of business is to support Australia’s wish in acquiring nuclear powered submarines.
“This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do,” French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio on Thursday according to Reuters. “It’s a stab in the back. We created a relationship of trust with Australia and that trust has been broken.”
French officials were so frustrated by the snub that they cancelled a gala at their embassy in Washington, D.C., though parts “of the celebration are still ongoing,” CNBC reported.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “doesn’t think” much about the Trump comparison and dismissed concerns over the American ally being upset.
“The president’s focus is on maintaining and continuing our close relationships with leaders in France, with the United Kingdom, with Australia and to achieving our global objectives – which include security in the Indo-Pacific. That’s what his focuses is and we will continue to work toward a productive, constructive partnership with the French,” she said.
AUKUS effectively ends the multi-year submarine contract that France had going with Australia, according to CNBC. Now, Australia will use the U.S. and Britain instead of French-built nuclear submarines.
France’s contract with Australia was worth at least $50 billion, Business Insider noted.
“The international community, including neighbouring countries, have risen to question [Australia’s] commitment to nuclear non-proliferation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said according to ABC News. “China will closely monitor the situation.”
Zhao said the move was an example of “extremely irresponsible” double standards, reportedly suggesting the countries “abandon the obsolete cold war zero sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical concepts and respect regional people’s aspiration and do more that is conducive to regional peace and stability and development.”
The administration has claimed the new partnership is not aimed at any one country. Still, it appears evident that the underlying context surrounds Western allies’ continued pressure against China, as Politico reported earlier Wednesday.
Psaki was pressed on why the administration has not publicly admitted the move is because of China during Thursday’s briefing. She said that the White House’s view is focused on “security in the Indo-Pacific” and was then asked if there’s “another country in the Indo-Pacific that you feel like is a threat.”
“I will let others do their analysis, but from the United States government, our focus is on what steps we can take to increase security in the Indo-Pacific and there’s a range of countries that could pose a threat,” Psaki responded.