France wants stability – China’s engagement in the Pacific Islands

Valéry Putz. Picture: ATU RASEA

The French Armed Forces considers the Republic of Fiji Military Forces an important counterpart in its bid to maintain stability amid the increasing sphere of Chinese influence in the Pacific.

Head of the French Armed Forces Brigadier General Valéry Putz made the statement when quizzed about his views on the escalating influence of China in the region at a media conference in Suva this week.

Over the past few days, he met with RFMF Commander Major General Jone Kalouniwai, where they discussed ways to further strengthen military relations.

“This regional stability is all what we are discussing about,” Brig-Gen Putz said. “We have seen the Chinese influence is raising questions about that stability and there has been a long time presence of China in the Pacific.” He said even though there were countries in the region who allied with China, the French government would promote dialogue for countries to come together and discuss issues threatening their security. Brig-Gen Putz said along with their counterparts, they were monitoring the recent security deal signed between China and the Solomon Islands.

“The core of all this is to ensure that stability and prosperity is maintained.

“We are more focused on regionalism, a vision of regional development that relies on multilateralism and freedom of navigation.”

He said the pivotal role of the French Armed Forces in the Pacific was protecting French territories which made a population of more than 700,000 living in French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia.

“Our main focus is to protect the French population and to ensure French sovereignty is protected, the EEZ and natural resources of the French population are protected.” Brig-Gen Putz visited the Blackrock Training Camp in Nadi during his visit.

More Stories