Perth USAsia Centre CEO Professor Gordon Flake says President Xi Jinping’s claim he supports ASEAN building a nuclear weapon-free zone was not as “divisive” as the president would have liked.

President Xi’s comments came earlier in the week during a summit with ASEAN leaders.

Professor Flake said his comments were “clumsily” aimed at the AUKUS alliance.

“There already is a nuclear-free zone, AUKUS doesn’t affect that whatsoever, we’re talking about nuclear propulsion – not nuclear weapons,” he told Sky News Australia.

He said this was an “attempt to suggest that the region was opposed to AUKUS” despite India and Japan being “vocally very supportive of it”.

“Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and even Indonesia have been more or less supportive, and so I’m not so sure that President Xi’s effort to make this as divisive as he’d like it to be was successful,” he said.

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