Stepping up his close monitoring by Washington. But also via Paris. Admittedly, France does not border the Taiwanese coast directly, but the situation must be analyzed in light of a much wider window: that of the Indo-Pacific region. A huge area stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean where in France there are just over 1.6 million citizens, distributed primarily between Reunion, Mayotte, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna. So, France, as a nation in the Indo-Pacific, is keen to keep its eyes open on China’s plans to expand into this part of the world.
Spread “emerald” and “sine”
That is why the French Navy regularly sends its ships off the coast of Taiwan. Thus, on March 11, the observation frigate “Vendémiaire”, based in New Caledonia, sailed from Manila in the Philippines towards the Taiwan Strait, and then the South China Sea. The purpose of this mission was not ambiguous, as stated in the Operations Report of the Ministry of the Armed Forces: “To clarify France’s connection to the freedom of navigation. Translation: The Taiwan Strait cannot be considered an “inland sea” for China.
This message from France was even clearer, a year ago, when Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, revealed, on February 8, 2021, the presence of the nuclear attack submarine, the Emiraud, and its support ship in these waters, the Seine: “This extraordinary patrol has just completed A passage in the South China Sea. A remarkable testament to the ability of our French Navy to spread far and long in conjunction with our Australian, American or Japanese strategic partners.”
And he adds: “Why such a task? To enrich our knowledge in this field and to confirm that international law is the only valid rule, no matter what sea we sail in.”
However, in these statements, one sentence resonates slightly more than the others, “Posted far and wide.” This was the goal – and challenge – of the Marian expedition that saw the “emeralds” leave the city in September 2020 to reappear in February 2021, more than 15,000 kilometers off the Chinese coast. “We already had this knowledge over very long distances. Before the Emerald, two more nuclear attack submarines made deep deployments in the Pacific Ocean. In 1985, Robes went to Noumea and in 2000, “Pearl” went to Perth, Australia. With this new mission, we demonstrated our ability to deploy high-density mediums far and long, and thus our credibility in the area of strategic interest for our country. »
With the return trip, the Emerald will have traveled 55,000 kilometers, or 1.3 times around the world, and worked in two unprecedented passes: “For the first time, Captain Alexander Marches asserts, a nuclear attack by submarine passed over the Mariana Trench and took the Sunda Strait.” The beach in the Philippine Sea, which is no picnic: shallow depths, sandy banks, random mapping …
Very discreet “Dupuy-de-Lôme”
However, the “Vendémiaire”, “Seine” and “Émeraude” are not the only French naval ships seen in the China Sea. Another ship advanced there and not just any one: “Dupuy-de-Lôme”, the spy ship of the Military Intelligence Directorate. If the communication about him has been generally confidential, Florence Parley nevertheless confirmed his presence in the China Sea, during a hearing before the Senate, on October 12. A hearing during which tensions between China and Taiwan were invited to the discussion. And for good reason.
A few days ago, 145 Chinese military aircraft did not hesitate to enter Taiwan’s air identification zone, including 56 aircraft on the single day of October 4, which is a record number. After this new intimidation from Beijing, the senators called on the Minister of the Armed Forces to clarify the French position: “We show, including with the national navy, our adherence to international law and freedom of movement. This led to the presence of buildings like the ‘Dupuy-de-Lôme’ in the Strait of Formosa She won’t say more about the true mission of this ship, but it wasn’t sent just to enjoy circles in the water.