Macron defends French interests in South Pacific with trip to three countries

President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the South Pacific aims to make France’s voice heard in what is becoming a major geopolitical battlefield between China and the United States. It coincides with a large-scale joint war game between US, Australian and French forces.

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Macron’s visit to New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu began on Monday, as French forces took part in large-scale US-Australia-led military exercises in the region.

With its armed forces, people and resources scattered throughout the Pacific territory, France wants to defend its interests and exert its power alongside like-minded democracies concerned about China’s assertiveness.

Exercise called “”Talisman Saber 2023‘ opened on Saturday and was hosted by the United States and Australia, with naval forces from France, Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan and several islands in the Pacific.

On 22 July 2023, a missile was fired from the US HIMARS system during a joint military exercise at a firing range in northern Australia as part of Exercise Talisman Saber, the largest joint Australian Defense Force-US military training activity in Shoalwater Bay. France is also participating in this war game. [AFP = current affairs]Andrew Leeson

This exercise also shows that the relationship between the two is completely repaired. france and oaks The (Australia-Britain-U.S.) alliance has seen a diplomatic rift after Canberra scrapped its €58 billion submarine contract with France in favor of the U.S.

The most strategic stop is Papua New Guinea, where China’s influence is growing and signed a new security cooperation agreement with the United States in May. The most populous Pacific island nation is also negotiating a security treaty with Australia.

according to The exercise is now closely monitored by Chinese warships, according to USNI-News, the news agency of the US Naval Research Laboratory.

There is no “anti-China policy”

Macron’s office said the visit was not aimed at imposing an “anti-China policy”, but rather to encourage regional powers to diversify their partnerships beyond Beijing and Washington.

A source at Macron’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he felt the visit was necessary because of “new and more intense threats” to the region’s security, institutions and environment.

The Prime Minister’s chief diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, made a speech. aspen security forum “China is a global challenge, not only for the US, but also for the EU,” he said last week, adding that “today there is a kind of strategic awakening in Europe” on the need for a hardline policy towards China.

But he argued that Europe should not “delegate” its global security needs to the United States and should develop its own strategic policies.

“As French and Europeans, if we want to remain relevant in the world today and tomorrow, we have to be stronger,” he said.

Macron will visit a French patrol vessel in the area and propose infrastructure projects and partnerships to protect forests and mangroves while securing jobs in Papua New Guinea, where France’s Total Energy is leading a liquefied natural gas project, the president’s office said.

The French tour coincides with visits to the region by some senior US officials, including Secretary of State Anthony Brinken’s visit to Tonga., After visiting Papua New Guinea in May, I visited New Zealand and Australia this week.

rebuild trust

Macron He began his visit to the French New Caledonian Islands on Monday. trying to rebuild trust After voters rejected a series of independence referendums, deep-seated grievances among the Kanak indigenous people, inequalities with the mainland and divisions over control of the region’s rich nickel reserves were exposed.

Negotiations are underway for a new status for the region and its institutions.

“I stand with my countrymen and define the foundations of this new path,” Macron said in a television interview after his arrival.

Coastal erosion and other impacts climate change The issue is top of the agenda at each stop of Macron’s visit, according to his advisers, in a region that regularly experiences tsunamis and has many islands at risk of disappearing to rising sea levels.

France has had an unbroken presence in the region since the 19th century, thanks to its colonial history and continuous control over a territory of 1.5 million citizens and about 7,000 troops across the Indo-Pacific.

(with news agency) Macron defends French interests in South Pacific with trip to three countries

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