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International relations

Xi says China ready to sign ASEAN's nuclear arms-free zone treaty

Apparent response to AUKUS pact is likely to turn up heat on Australia

Chinese submarines, including a nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile vessel, are seen during a military display in the South China Sea in 2018.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Monday that Beijing was ready to sign a Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free treaty, in an apparent response to the new AUKUS defense pact between Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.

The Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, otherwise known as the Bangkok Treaty, was signed in 1995 by the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The treaty stipulates that its signatories cannot "develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons," "station or transport nuclear weapons by any means," or "test or use nuclear weapons."

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