Message to China: France, Australia to thwart ‘hegemony’ in Indo-Pacific


SYDNEY: Against the backdrop of rising Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific space, France and Australia have made it clear that no single country can be allowed to dominate the region and sought India’s cooperation in this regard.

During his visit to Australia, French President Emmanuel Macron discussed cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull. The talks on May 1 saw a striking convergence between the two leaders on promoting a rules-based order to shape a multi-polar Indo-Pacific region.

“It’s important with this new context not to have any hegemony,” said Mr. Macron through his interpreter.

France, being the last European country to have territories in the Pacific, remains an integral ‘Pacific power,’ said Mr Turnbull. He underlined the imperative for greater collaboration between France and other Indo-Pacific countries to ensure “free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific”.

“That economic rise, that growth, has been enabled and made possible by a rules-based order in our region,” said PM Turnbull.  “The peace and relevant harmony in our region has been enabled by the adherence to the rule of law.”

Both the leaders, however, rejected the suggestion that the cooperation between France and Australia is a reaction to China’s growing influence in the region.

In a delicate balancing act, Mr Macron, who struck an upbeat note on China’s One Belt One Road project during his recent visit to Beijing, hailed China’s rise. “There is nothing against vis-a-vis China, and in reaction to the Chinese rise,” Mr Macron said.

“I think the Chinese rise is very good news for everybody because it’s good for China itself.”

To bolster their partnership, the two sides signed agreements on combating cyber-terrorism, defence cooperation, quantum computing, and climate change adaptation.