Groupe de contact asiatique (7 juillet 2017)
Asian Contact Group meeting 7 July 2017
Statement by H.E. Véronique ROGER-LACAN, Ambassador,
French Permanent Representative to the OSCE
On The Indo-Pacific Security Dynamic
France would like to thank Australia, Ambassador Hammer, and the German Chairmanship of the Asian Contact Group, for their invitation to France to share views on the Indo-Pacific security dynamic on the occasion of this special meeting of the Asian Contact Group.
I will share with you some of the thinking of our center for policy and analysis on Asia, that do not necessarily represent the official views of France on the Indo-Pacific (concept that by the way, our Asian directorate does not recognize) security dynamic. Nevertheless, this thinking is worth sharing.
Our center for analysis and policy points out that the reconfiguration of the security situation in Asia with :
the growing power of China,
the current stalemate of the relationship between China and the United States over North-Korea,
and the uncertainty as to the American security guarantees in Asia,
calls for an equivalent reconfiguration of Europe’s cooperation with the Asia-Pacific region.
Hence, and given also that the European Union is a true security and diplomatic actor in this field, the question to us, here in the OSCE, is what we can provide in this regard.
I will not dwell too much on the growing power of China’s Navy and its growing deployment in the Indo-Pacific area, given the fact that the OSCE is mainly a land organization. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning :
the ring of pearls in the ports of Colombo, Hambantota, Gwadar and Chittagong,
the construction of a Chinese naval base in Djibouti,
as well as the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor projects.
They will all give China both land and naval access to the Indian Ocean, to the Gulf countries, to the OSCE space and to the Mediterranean through cooperation with Russia.
It is worth underlining that the territorial disputes that oppose the majority of South China Sea coastal States to China and the North-Korean threat are symptomatic of the types of difficulties, not social, not economic, but political and strategic, that the world has from now onwards to cope with.
We are indeed facing two additional strategic presences in the world.
For France, with its 11 million square meters of maritime domain expanding over Asia-Pacific, these challenges are not anecdotal and have to be dealt with.
A way forward can be through our strategic partnerships, not only with China, but also with India, Japan, and Australia and through an invitation to Asian-Pacific States to build a genuine global security architecture in the Indian Ocean, which has unfortunately not managed to take off yet.
We also regret that ASEAN does not seem to have found its way through preventing any type of hegemony or regional tension.
Therefore France’s approach will take into consideration :
the presence of French populations and territories in the area obliging us in the long run in terms of security commitments in the whole of Asia-Pacific region,
the presence of French forces in the Indian Ocean, ALINDIEN in Abu Dhabi, in the Pacific, ALPACI, FASZOI in la Reunion,
our strategic partnerships, already mentioned before with China, India, Japan, Australia,
our presence in the South-China Sea to testify, with our naval rotations there, to our rigorous stand on the compliance with the law of the sea.
On the basis of those four parameters, our cooperation in the region will therefore pursue three objectives :
a security objective with a call to develop and organize a regional security architecture helping coastal States to cope with non-traditional threats such as terrorism, piracy and proliferation,
a strategic objective consisting of assistance to Asian States if they so wish to answer the uncertainties described above through an engagement of China on non-binding but non-hostile cooperation,
a political objective aiming at protecting our positions and populations in the region.
In the OSCE, the key to Asia is, of course, our partnership through the Asian Group for Cooperation, but also the Central Asian States and Mongolia, who keep calling on us to open up to Asia and to get out of this cumbersome, autistic and obsessive daily conversation on East-West divergences and protracted conflicts.
I thank you all for your attention./.