Frances Military and Political Strategy in the Indo-Pacific after Creation of AUKUS

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-12-60-70
Saint Petersburg University (SPbU), 7-9, Universitetskaya Emb., Saint-Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation.

Received 03.06.2023. Revised 23.07.2023. Accepted 09.10.2023.

Acknowledgements. The article has been supported by a grant of the Russian Science Foundation. Project no. 22-78-00198 “France’s Defence Policy: Spheres, Trends, Challenges for Russia”.

Abstract. This article explores the key developments of the French Indo-Pacific strategy in the aftermath of the “submarine deal” and the creation of AUKUS in September 2021. For many observers, the misunderstanding with Australia and the United States seemed to be a real turning point in regional policy, due to which the previous partnerships should be inevitably recalibrated. Yet, as numerous examples show, Paris’ response is quite limited after all. Firstly, the article summarizes French efforts to turn the page on the “submarine deal” by restoring the dialogue with Anglo-Saxon powers. In this respect, the emphasis is made on Emmanuel Macron’s meetings with new prime ministers of the United Kingdom and Australia as well as on his steps towards transatlantic solidarity with Washington (not without new disagreements on the Taiwan issue, however). Secondly, several multi- and minilateral activities of French diplomacy are analyzed, such as the EU-Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum held for the first time in Paris, 2022, or the president’s participation in the APEC summit in Thailand. It is noteworthy that France tries to find the second chance for its “Indo-Pacific axis” involving the UAE instead of Canberra and keeping in touch with India. Thirdly, the article defines that key weaknesses of the French regional strategy are the same as before September 2021. In particular, it still implies a certain ambiguity because the discourse on the “third way” and unwillingness to be a part of U.S.-China confrontation is followed by an indisputable affiliation of France to the collective West. French diplomatic activity is poorly supported by military capabilities given small contingents at overseas territories with mostly outdated weapons. The conclusion is that the AUKUS factor did not change France’s policy in the Indo-Pacific dramatically anyway; moreover, the continuity is likely to prevail for a few more years.

Keywords: France, Indo-Pacific, AUKUS, multilateralism, minilateralism, overseas territories, military presence, U.S.-China rivalry


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For citation:
Chikhachev A. Frances Military and Political Strategy in the Indo-Pacific after Creation of AUKUS. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2023, vol. 67, no. 12, pp. 60-70. EDN: JTXZGD

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