French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday last week signed France’s largest defense budget increase in 50 years into law. In the same legislation, France pledges to safeguard freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Strait.
The French Parliament passed the bill last month, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s aggressive stance in Asia. It grants a 413 billion euro (US$453.3 billion) defense budget for the next seven years to push the country’s military spending to more than 2 percent of GDP by 2025.
The legislation says that France has an obligation to defend freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea as an Indo-Pacific power.
Due to Macron’s controversial comment in April calling for Europe not to follow the US’ lead and to steer clean of a potential Taiwan conflict, some skeptical Taiwanese politicians have asked whether the legislation is focused only on protecting the country’s freedom of movement, not necessarily the Taiwan Strait or Taiwan.
However, French Senator Olivier Cadic, one of those who proposed the legislation, made it clear during deliberations that Beijing’s predatory acts were what pushed France to contribute to protecting freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region. These acts include attempts to claim international seas as its own, harassment of legal fishing operations, the construction of military bases and incursions into other nations’ sovereign waters, as well as China’s ever-growing military power.
China has not only turned a deaf ear to the rulings of international courts with regard to its claims in the South China Sea, but it also claims the Taiwan Strait, posing a direct threat to global trade, maritime transportation and the international order, Cadic said. A military confrontation in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea would have a major effect on global trade and traffic.
The French legislation indicates that protecting peace in Taiwan Strait aligns with France’s strategic national interests, and is essential to a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. This kind of recognition is growing in international society. The global alliance of democracies has agreed that peace must be maintained in the Taiwan Strait, as regional turmoil would reverberate around the world.
Not only has Washington increased US Navy and Coast Guard transits through the Taiwan Strait; since French frigate the Vendemiaire passed through the waterway in 2019, the French Navy has continued transits about once a year. Other democracies such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands have conducted similar operations.
This is a sign that democratic allies are increasingly asserting their right to freedom of navigation in international waters near China, showing that they are looking at China not only purely in terms of trade, but from a geopolitical military standpoint as well.
As the world’s democracies join forces to face the aggressive actions of China, Russia and North Korea — which are beginning to look like a new “axis of evil” — the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan will inevitably become a crucial strategic channel that they cannot afford to lose.
Taiwan must surely go all-out to defend itself against aggression from across the Strait. It should work with France and other like-minded nations to defend the rules-based international order and the rights of all countries to freely navigate the region’s seas in the region, which in turn would safeguard Taiwan.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum in Taipei, former Singaporean minister for foreign affairs George Yeo (楊榮文) proposed a “Chinese commonwealth” as a potential framework for political integration between Taiwan and China. Yeo said the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait is unsustainable and that Taiwan should not be “a piece on the chessboard” in a geopolitical game between China and the US. Yeo’s remark is nothing but an ill-intentioned political maneuver that is made by all pro-China politicians in Singapore. Since when does a Southeast Asian nation have the right to stick its nose in where it is not wanted
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
More Taiwanese semiconductor companies, from chip designers to suppliers of equipment and raw materials, are feeling the pinch due to increasing competition from their Chinese peers, who are betting all their resources on developing mature chipmaking technologies in a push for self-sufficiency, as their access to advanced nodes has been affected by US tech curbs. A lack of chip manufacturing technology such as extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) would ensure that Chinese companies — Huawei Technology Co in particular — lag behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co by five to six years, some analysts have said.