At a time when old and new tensions are mounting in the Asia-Pacific, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s invitation to Emmanuel Macron for APEC 2022 allows us to discuss the third way strategy proposed by France, which seeks to be part of the security and development of this region of the world.
The Asia-Pacific countries, which are expected to become the future driver of the global economy in the 21st century, have for over 30 years pursued geo-economic integration in close relationship with China. None want to be either victims of conflicts imported by the United States or to go back in 1955 to the non-alignment of Bandung, whereas China’s investments are essential to their development. In this region, France plays the role of an insular middle power, with territories from Reunion Island to French Polynesia, facing the same challenges as the countries of Southeast Asia: security of territorial waters, connectivity through digital and physical infrastructure, promotion of multilateralism and creation of global public goods focused on climate and biodiversity. These four challenges have shaped France’s global strategy in the Indo-Pacific since 2018.
Since the “stab in the back” of the AUKUS alliance in 2021, France’s Indo-Pacific strategy is less focused on the Paris-Dehli-Canberra axis and more on France-India and France-Japan relations, which could lead to new bilateral alliances and a refocusing on Southeast Asia with Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia as priorities. Indonesia is becoming one of the key players in this French strategic shift, whose actions are part of the development of Indonesia’s security and transition to a green economy.
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