The Asia-Pacific does not need “submarines and gunpowder,” a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry has said, slamming the trilateral pact between the US, UK, and Australia, dubbed AUKUS, as derailing peace in the region.

Speaking on Wednesday, Zhao Lijian slammed the nuclear submarine deal between the three powers, stating that it has intensified the arms race and runs counter to the desires of countries in the region.

“Faced with the common challenge of fighting the epidemic and economic recovery, the people in the Asia-Pacific region need growth and employment, not submarines and gunpowder.” Instead, according to the Beijing spokesperson, “the countries concerned should do more to help regional peace and development.”

Zhao previously called the agreement, which is largely seen as a strategy to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region, “extremely irresponsible” after it was announced last week. Under the accord, which the three nations say is dedicated to a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” Australia would be in possession of nuclear-powered, but conventionally armed submarines. (RT)