France supports the US in the Pacific with a submarine near China
WARSAW, (BM) – French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced that the Marine Nationale strike submarine “Émeraude” is currently on a South China Sea mission, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24. According to Parly, this is meant to be evidence of the French Navy’s ability to operate far into France and for a long time, in conjunction with its Australian, American, and Japanese strategic partners.
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According to Defense Minister Florence Parly, from September 2020, the nuclear submarine “Émeraude” and the security ship “Seine” are on a long voyage through the Indian Ocean and entering the Pacific. So far, the ship’s team has covered a total of over 15,000 km.
France released Minister Parly’s information at a particular point in this voyage when a French submarine completed its crossing of the South China Sea. The French wanted to clarify that they treat this reservoir as international waters, not Chinese internal waters. France did this specifically to support international efforts to stop Beijing’s authorities from appropriating waters bordering China for their needs.
It was also supposed to be an unmistakable signal to the United States that Paris would support the Washington government in its Southeast Asia region activities. This action is also seen in the press release by Minister Parly. It highlights the French Navy’s ability to operate far away from mainland France and for an extended period with its Australian, American, and Japanese strategic partners.
An additional factor explaining the French government’s actions was the willingness to update knowledge about Southeast Asia’s waters. The French have their self-interest, as they have the world’s second-largest maritime economic zone with an area of 11 million square kilometers. Of these, as many as 9 million square kilometers are locating in the Indo-Pacific area.
Thus, the Chinese government’s aggressive actions may, at some point, also directly hit French sovereignty. The French know that defending their interests at such a distance from France requires prior preparation of appropriate forces and local allies’ support, such as Japan and Australia.
“Why such a mission? To enrich our knowledge of this area and confirm that international law is the only binding rule, no matter what sea we sail in. France has the second-largest Exclusive Economic Zone globally (11 million km2, of which 9 million km2 locates in the Indo-Pacific region. We intend to protect our sovereignty and our interests,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly said.
The cruise of a nuclear submarine to the South China Sea should not come as a surprise to anyone, the more so as it happened immediately after the new American president was sworn in. So it is a clear signal from the Elysée Palace to the Joe Biden administration that the French will support the Americans in their policy towards China in terms of freedom of navigation and respect for international rights at sea.
France has already carried out several similar operations in the South China Sea in the past, cooperating in this area, particularly with the United States and Great Britain. This action could help countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, with which China has a territorial dispute over mostly uninhabited islands.
That’s why France, Germany, and the United Kingdom issued an extraordinary statement at the United Nations in September 2020 supporting the 2016 international court ruling against most of Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. The verdict by these states that “Beijing’s claims to historical rights in the waters of the South China Sea do not comply with international law” is, however, only a formal appeal. China is doing nothing to itself both from the protests of other countries and international courts’ judgments and consistently implements its plans.
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