China has hit out at the US, UK and Australia over their pact to create new nuclear-powered submarines, saying they have “gone further down a dangerous road”.

It follows Rishi Sunak meeting US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in San Diego to announce the next stage of the Aukus partnership plan.

The plan will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as it seeks to counter Chinese activities in the Pacific Ocean.

China’s foreign ministry said the three countries had “disregarded” concerns of the international community, Reuters news agency reported.

Spokesperson Wang Wenbin made the comments at a regular news briefing when asked about the deal.

The three nations have insisted the pact does not increase the risk of nuclear proliferation.

The vessels will carry conventional weapons and the nuclear reactors will be sealed shut.

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Mr Sunak said the UK, US and Australia would work together “keeping our oceans free” with a new generation of nuclear-powered attack submarines.

“For the first time ever, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific, keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come,” the British prime minister said.

The Aukus partnership was first announced in 2021. Since then, the UK has published its integrated review of foreign and security policy, which highlights China’s “more aggressive stance”.

President Biden said the US could ask for “no better partners” than the UK and Australia when it came to ensuring the security of the Pacific.

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