Monday, July 19, 2021

France's Stand in the Pacific Contra China

Most people do not realize that one of the largest Pacific nation, if you measure by territorial seas, is France.

She has a lot to lose in a world where fleets of hundreds of Chinese fishing boats in fleet movements go from place to place, strip mining already stressed fishing resources.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday France and South Pacific nations would launch a South Pacific coastguard network to counter "predatory" behaviour, which an adviser said was aimed at illegal fishing, as China expands its maritime reach.

The United States and allies including France, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, are actively expanding their activity in the Pacific to counter China's influence.

Though tiny in land mass, Pacific islands control vast swaths of resource-rich ocean called Exclusive Economic Zones, forming a formidable boundary between the Americas and Asia.

"To better cope with the predatory logic we are all victims of, I want to boost our maritime cooperation in the South Pacific," Macron said after a video conference with the leaders of Australia, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and representatives of New Zealand and other Pacific nations.
When France is good, she is very good.

This is a "growth area" in the maritime security arena. You can hear it in Macron's statement, and you can see it in the growing fleets of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) that are a good compromise design for the mission at hand.

Those over 50 remember the last time a nation with a less than enlightened view of the rule of law and responsible stewardship of the world's oceans had the capability and will to do real damage, the Soviet Union.

For the better part of three decades, the world has become comfortable and secure - with isolated exceptions - of the fruits of Pax Americana on the high seas. Those days are over. With pressures and stress, more nations will need to turn their attentions to those things they thought they were naturally granted, responding to gaps in what I modestly call, "Salamander's Hierarchy of Maritime Power™" (apologies to Maslow).

All the higher requirements can only successfully be attained when the ones below it are properly secured, funded, and maintained. Where a power gets itself in to trouble is when it neglects "lower echelon" requirements - through ill-understanding or immature priorities - and instead get's top heavy.

Smart move by France in bolstering the base of its maritime power. With this secure, it will have better standing in higher echelon functions.

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