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Military and Technical Cooperation with Vietnam Remains out of Reach for France

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It is well known that China, the United States, Russia, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Singapore are considered to be the most active players in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Other nations as, for instance, member-states of the European Union, are rarely mentioned in news items connected to APAC. Still, even they are changing the extent of their interest in this region. As a result, France has been working on strengthening its position in APAC by actively promoting cooperation with Vietnam, which is, at present, one of the leading nations in South East Asia (SEA).

The Strait of Malacca, located between the island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, is in South East Asia within APAC. It is a link between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The strait is one of the most important sea gateways in the world, which enables maritime routes to connect East Asia and SEA with Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Strait of Malacca is used to transport approximately 25% of all the cargo sent by sea on the planet. Economies of the APAC nations as well as those of more distant European countries are all dependent on this sea link.

In recent years, tensions around the Strait of Malacca have been increasing. Territorial disputes between China and the nations in the region are on the rise, because of a number of islands in the South China Sea, which are located fairly close to the strait. The PRC has declared sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines dispute the Chinese claims. In 2014, the PRC began building artificial islands in disputed territories in order to install military equipment there. In 2016, the International Court of Justice in The Hague deemed China’s claims over the disputed territories as unlawful. But the PRC has rejected this decision and stated that it was prepared to fight for ownership by military means. Now that the tensions have risen, all the countries, whose economies are dependent on the Strait of Malacca, are concerned about its........

© New Eastern Outlook