While France is recovering from the recent Nice attack that claimed the lives of least 84 individuals, the country is fighting a different battle on the other side of the world, particularly in the South China Sea.
Days after the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague issued the much-awaited decision last July 12, countries all over the world have issued their respective positions on the issue that would affect not only the Philippines and China, but the entire world.
Earlier last month, France announced its plan to carry out the Freedom of Navigation Operations, or FONOPs, in South China Sea, together with other European Union-member states. The EU superpower, being also an Indo-Pacific nation, is a party to navigational issues in the region, the Diplomat reported.
During the Shangri-la Dialogue on June 5, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hinted that the French, along with EU forces, will conduct missions to maintain the presence of EU forces in the region.
But French Ambassador to the Philippines Thierry Mathou said that France is open to the possibility of facilitating a peaceful resolution between the Philippines and China to avoid escalation of the conflict, the Manila Bulletin reported.
Mathou added that all stakeholders should engage in peaceful discussion, because for him, there’s no other way of resolving the issue other than negotiation. He also lauded the decision of the Philippines to study the decision before issuing an official statement. He considered such move from the Philippines as “very wise.”
“We have a very good relation (with China). It’s a global relation like with the Philippines. When you are good friends, you don’t have to fear being straight. It’s the way we are with all our partners,” Mathou was quoted as saying by the Manila Bulletin.