China has accused Australia and the U.S. of fuelling an ‘arms race’

China has accused the U.S. and Australian governments of triggering an arms race by planning to put nuclear-capable bomber planes in the NT.

China has accused the U.S. and Australian governments of triggering an arms race through a plan to position nuclear-capable bomber planes in the Northern Territory (NT).

An arms race is when two parties compete for military superiority.

Here’s what you need to know.

The context

Earlier this week, the ABC’s Four Corners program reported that the U.S. Government is planning on deploying as many as six B-52 bombers in the NT.

A B-52 bomber is an aircraft that can deliver long-range strikes of nuclear and conventional weapons. They are said to be capable of “dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory”.

The U.S. Air Force told the ABC the plan would send a “strong message to adversaries about our ability to project lethal air power”.

China’s response

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said this plan “escalates regional tensions, gravely undermines regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region”.

“China urges parties concerned to abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset, and do more things that are good for regional peace and stability and mutual trust among all parties.”

The Cold War was one of the largest arms races in history, occurring between the U.S. and the Soviet Union from 1947 until 1991.


Many Western nations (including the U.S. and Australia) are concerned about Chinese escalation in the Indo-Pacific region.

This has been seen in China’s actions around Taiwan and Hong Kong and the country’s security agreement with the Solomon Islands – a country about 2,000 kilometres from northeast Australia.

Tensions with China escalated further in May, when an Australian maritime patrol was intercepted in the South China Sea by Chinese airforce fighters.

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