Canberra – To implement the rule of law and to oppose hegemony, French President Emmanuel Macron has hinted at a new strategic axis of France-India-Australia for the Indo-Pacific region to contain China.
The United States has already created an quad coalition with India, Japan and Australia, to which China has taken an objection. Against this backdrop, the indications coming from the French President suggest that the efforts to counter China’s bullying in the Indo-Pacific have taken pace.
French President Emmanuel Macron who landed in Australia on Tuesday met the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday. After rounds of talks, various pacts concerning defense, cybersecurity, education, research and climate change were signed between the two leaders. In the joint press conference that later followed, Macron hit out at China.
‘We are not naive. If we want to be seen and respected by China as an equal partner, we must come together’, said President Macron, underlining the need for countries to unite if they intend to restrain China.
Mentioning about French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean and the Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, Macron said, ‘With these islands France has a shared goal with Australia which is at the centre of the new Indo-Pacific axis. Post-Brexit, France would be the only member of the European Union having presence in the Pacific. Hence France is keen for a new Indo-Pacific axis’, said Macron backing the proposed alliance.
Macron made the case for Australia, France and India to play a ‘central role’ in ensuring regional peace and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific region. He also said, ‘Indo-Pacific will in turn be focal point for the global stability and hence securing the economic and strategic interests of the region will be the responsibility of the Indo-Pacific axis. The French President welcomed China’s rise and called it a very good news for everybody but at the same time clarified that the new axis should not be seen as an anti-China gathering.
At the same time Macron warned that the aggressive strides of China in the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea won’t be tolerated. He stressed that the development in the Pacific region must necessarily be rules-based. The regional balance too will be achieved only with rules-based development, claimed Macron. Drawing the same reference, Macron targeted China and called for no nation to exercise hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region.
Earlier this year, French President Macron had visited China. During his visit Macron had pulled up China for its ‘One Belt One Road’ project. Macron warned China from turning its ambitious project into a tool of hegemony. Macron has lately indicated at restricting China’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific region.