Beijing has hit out at Washington for allegedly inciting an arms race in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of the US, Australia, and the UK announcing the trilateral security pact AUKUS earlier this month. Under AUKUS, Australia will acquire at least eight advanced nuclear-powered submarines.Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said that the AUKUS trilateral partnership was “completely complementary” to the four-nation “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” while addressing journalists after he met with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

The Australian PM was responding to a question on whether the AUKUS pact would “influence” discussions at the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders Summit slated to take place at the White House on 24 September. The Quad grouping is comprised of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Beijing has described the “Quad” as an “Asian NATO”.Both AUKUS and the Quad cater to upholding a “free” and “open” Indo-Pacific region amid concerns expressed by US-led western allies and countries like India about China’s rise in the region.Beijing is currently involved in maritime disputes with several of its ASEAN neighbours in the South China Sea and Japan in the East China Sea. The People’s Liberation Army is also embroiled in a more than year-old standoff with the Indian Army along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh between the two Asian powerhouses.

The Australian PM additionally claimed during the presser that he had informed Prime Minister Modi about the AUKUS pact on the eve of making it public.Morrison’s remarks come days after India claimed that AUKUS doesn’t have any relevance on the Quad.