Dating france chinese affairs

19-Jul-2017 05:47

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To the surprise of many, a seemingly unrelated European power, France, has announced its intention of coordinating the navies of fellow European Union nations to conduct Freedom of Navigation Operations or FONOPs in South China Sea. Although China was not named in Le Drian’s speech (China is not the only country with sovereignty claims in the South China Sea), the French initiative was generally interpreted as a bad news for Beijing, who was already irritated by what it sees as “outside interference” by the United States and its allies in China’s territorial feuds with countries bordering South China Sea.On June 5, at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian mentioned this initiative for joint EU patrols of “the maritime areas of Asia” and for a “regular and visible presence there.”Enjoying this article? From a strictly strategic viewpoint, France’s announced plan will not have a determining impact on the situation in the South China Sea.China’s aggressive territorial push in the South China Sea has resulted in turning this busy international trade route into one of the most volatile spots in the world. S.-led international efforts to defend the freedom of navigation guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), aiming at preventing the entire South China Sea from becoming an exclusive Chinese lake, has just received a powerful boost in the form of the July 12 ruling of The Hague-based UN Permanent Court of Arbitration.Much to China’s anger, most of its sovereignty claims over the South China Sea are rejected in this ruling.Moreover, France is a major provider of defense equipment in Asia.

The scope of this diplomatic impact should be measured in the wake of the July 12 ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration, in a context where China is attempting, without much success, to put together a “coalition of the willing” of countries presumably supportive of its position in the South China Sea.According to Professor Shawn Mc Hale writing in May 2016 for the “Rising Power Initiative,” France, as colonial ruler of Vietnam at the time, in 1931 asserted its sovereignty over part of the South China Sea.French sovereignty was challenged by Japan throughout World War II and both stopped their claims only in the 1950s. Given this background, questions may still linger on why France, which, along with other European countries, has important trade interests with China, would choose to ruffle Chinese feathers at this point by entering the fray in the South China Sea.Cautious Neutrality Understandably, some might still wonder how this effort for upholding the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea may negatively affect France’s (and the EU’s) huge trade interests with China, an economic giant with a record of punishing its trade partners for sensitive political motives.

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For example, in 2008, the French economy suffered severe Chinese reprisals following French condemnations of human rights violations in Tibet.

Combine this to territories in the Indian Ocean (La Reunion, Mayotte, Kerguelen, etc.), and France is also an Indo-Pacific nation.

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