Paris/Beijing: At the end of last month, two French warships apparently sailed near the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea. Even after being threatened by the Chinese warships, they continued with the campaign, stating firmly that they were sailing in international waters. In the beginning of May, French President, Emmanuel Macron, during his visit to Australia, had reprimanded China, saying, ‘No country should try to dominate the Indo-Pacific sector.’ From Macron’s statements and the subsequent sailing of the French warships without paying any heed to the Chinese threats, it is evident that France is openly challenging the Chinese bullying in South China Sea.
In the month of May, the French warship Dixmude and a frigate sailed through the South China Sea. The French naval officers claimed this campaign to be a part of ‘Freedom of Navigation’. As per the interview given by the Dixmude Commander and the information given by an analyst, China tried to stop this French naval campaign. An analyst from the study group, ‘Hudson Institute’ has exposed this information in an article published in an American newspaper.
‘In late May, a French warship sailed through the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. At that time, some destroyers of the Chinese navy threatened the French warship and asked them to leave the region as it is a part of their sovereign territory. The French warship sternly replied that they were in international marine waters and continued its journey. At that time, there were helicopters of the United Kingdom and European Union on the French warship. The Chinese warships chased the French warship for a while,’ informed analyst, Jonas Parello-Plesner.
Against this background, Dixmude Commander, Jean Porcher in an interview, spoke about the campaign in the South China Sea. He claimed that while sailing near the Spratly Islands, the Dixmude collected the required information with the help of sensors and carried out surveillance in the area. Porcher further clarified that at that time, they were in radio contact with the Chinese navy. The sailing carried out by the French warships without paying heed to the Chinese threats attracts attention.
In the beginning of May, French President, Emmanuel Macron had indicated the creation of a new front, ‘France-India-Australia’, to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region. Mentioning the French colonies in the Pacific and Indian ocean, the French President indicated that he intended to take the initiative to form this new front in the Indo-Pacific. Saying that the Indo-Pacific region will be central for global stability, Macron asserted that guarding the economic and security interests of the region will be the responsibility of this new Indo-Pacific front.
The sailing of the French warships in the South China Sea following these forceful statements clearly indicate that the French President may take aggressive steps to challenge the Chinese dominance in this region.