Ties between Australia and China have improved faster than many expected since Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took power last year. Beijing’s reaction to Canberra’s plans for a new submarine may show whether that goodwill can last.

Albanese is expected to travel to Washington in mid-March to unveil the design for a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to be built with help from the U.S. and U.K.

The joint announcement with U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would represent a key milestone in the 18-month-old AUKUS partnership, intended to counter growing Chinese naval might in the Asia-Pacific region.