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France’s Engagement in Indo-Pacific

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

France has been increasing its presence in the Indo-Pacific lately in a bid to secure its interest in the region of geopolitical importance. Citing growing trade, geopolitical, and security concerns as the reasons for increasing its military presence, French President Emmanuel Macron has iterated on the importance of strengthening France’s strategic partnerships in the region, stating it as a priority in its foreign policy.

Indo-Pacific, France, Macron

Image Graphics by Team Geostrata


The economic and geopolitical significance of the region has grown exponentially in the last few years with the shift of the centre of the global economy from the Atlantic to the Pacific region. The region has witnessed increased trade and investment due to the presence of six G20 nations and important maritime trade routes.


France in particular has high stakes in the Indo-Pacific region due to the presence of its overseas territories and 93% of its exclusive economic zone in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. There are approximately 1.5 million French citizens and 8000 soldiers in the Indo-Pacific region. Hence, maintaining stability in the region is of the utmost importance for France.

Lately, the Indo-Pacific region has become the epicentre of the geopolitical tussle amidst the increasingly polarised global order. The economic and commercial significance of the region has attracted the attention of the geopolitical powers of the world, each contending to gain influence in the region with the objective of establishing and maintaining its supremacy in the global order.

In the past three decades, China has experienced tremendous economic and technological growth, matched with military expansion and modernisation, climbing up the geopolitical ladder to become a global powerhouse. The cheap and abundant labour present in China, along with access to resources, has transformed it into the manufacturing hub of the world and a major exporter, thus occupying a dominant position in global trade.


China has adopted an aggressive military strategy, leading to tensions and border disputes with several countries, including India, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. Further, China has increased its military presence in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region, thus threatening the national security of nations in the region.

China has also been engaging in strategic lending to developing nations that are unable to borrow funds from the IMF or World Bank. This has resulted in the exponential growth of Chinese influence in the global south as a major economic player. Some nations in the Indo-Pacific region are suffering from poor economic growth and are experiencing economic crises due to structural inadequacies in their economies.


Increased participation of China and France in the region to promote economic stability and integration with the rest of the world will strengthen the economic conditions of the aforementioned countries, thus bringing stability to the region.


China’s role as a ‘broker of peace’ has also been growing rapidly, especially after it brokered a historic deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, potentially restoring diplomatic ties between the two Middle Eastern nations after years of hostility. On April 5, 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited China for bilateral and trilateral talks.

The French and Chinese envoys discussed strengthening trade relations and economic integration between the two nations, committing to a common framework for international action on climate change and biodiversity preservation, and maintaining peace and stability globally. The strengthening of Sino-French relations is a positive sign for stability and tranquillity in the Indo-Pacific region.

As China seeks to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific, a geopolitically critical region for the nation as well as the rest of the world, through economic and diplomatic ties, tensions between China and the West, especially the US, have been stewing over establishing influence in the region. Therefore, bilateral engagement between France and China and a shared commitment to peace and stability are reassuring for the economic prosperity of the region.

France is increasing its presence in the region with the objective of strengthening stability in the region and establishing a multipolar order that is governed by the rule of law, democratic principles, and free movement, promoting fair and efficient multilateralism. France aims to increase its involvement in ensuring stability in the region through increased efforts for counter-terrorism, such as tackling terror financing and organised crime. Through increased cooperation with countries of mutual interest and shared values, France can increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region, an increasingly important region in the new global order.

Multilateral military exercises are an important facet of France’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. The French Navy organises a joint military exercise called La Perouse, which takes place in the Indian Ocean, with the objective of enhancing maritime domain awareness and strengthening maritime cooperation among the participating navies, which include the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal British Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, and US Navy.


Such multilateral exercises between India and France exhibit the high level of synergy and coordination between India and France and their determination to promote a rule-based global order. Similarly, the Navy of India and France conduct a bilateral military exercise called Varuna to test their preparation for air and sea-based warfare.

India shares the concerns and democratic values of France. Therefore, the increased engagement of France in the region to ensure stability and economic prosperity is beneficial for India as well.

 

BY PRANAV ANAND

TEAM GEOSTRATA

info@thegeostrata.com

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