01 June 2019

France and Security in the Indo-Pacific

France and Security in the Indo-Pacific (Paris: Minister for the Armed Forces, May 2019).

Click here to download a cached copy.

This is definitely not Paris’s version of the Washington’s China Military Power report. It is instead a counterpart to the simultaneously-released  Department of Defense Indo-Pacific Strategy Report

In fact, this French document contains only 9 mentions of “China” in total. Where it excels is in outlining France’s Indo-Pacific assets, interests, and determination to safeguard them in cooperation with regional allies and partners. Desperately needed: a British version of this release. More specifically, the map graphics are particularly compelling—a model of how to be taken seriously in an official document, in a format that the United States would do well to emulate!


p. 1

Foreword by the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly:

France pays particular attention to the Indo-Pacific region. Its stability is paramount for international security, as stated in the 2017 Defence and National Security Strategic Review.

In the Indo-Pacific area, North Korea challenges the international community by conducting nuclear trials and ballistic missile tests, thereby breaching the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

The military assertiveness of a growing number of established or emerging powers presents many challenges to multilateralism and increases the instability and unpredictability we are confronted with.

Terrorism, which has severely struck Europe over the last few years, is reshaping and spreading to the Indo-Pacific. This worrying evolution requires a joint mobilisation of the international community.

The maritime domain remains an area of tensions due to the challenging behaviour of some States with regards to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the persistence of acts of piracy.

Finally, the effects of climate change and environmental degradations represent a major issue in the Indo-Pacific, and as far as in the Antarctic, exacerbating security risks.

These major challenges can only be overcome through cooperation. Upholding stability in the Indo-Pacific, which is a source of overall prosperity thanks to its economic dynamism, demographic growth and technological innovation, is essential. This has to be set within the framework of an international order based on dialogue and the respect of multilaterally set rules.

As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a founding member of the European Union and NATO, France plays a specific role on the international stage. With territories and population in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans, France is a nation of the Indo-Pacific region and holds a distinctive place in this part of the world, from the African coastline to the seaboard of Americas. France permanently maintains sovereignty and presence forces in the region to defend its interests and to contribute to the stability of the region alongside its partners, primarily India, Australia, the United States, Japan as well as Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

With the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law, France started an exceptional military build-up to adapt its defence system to evolving security challenges. These challenges also make supporting the capacity building of our partners essential.

The present document is a new edition of “France and security in the Asia-Pacific” published in 2016. It illustrates France’s policy on defence and security in the Indo-Pacific and demonstrates our country’s long-term unwavering commitment to developing strong linkages with the States of the region, in favour of our common security.


p. 2 

France in the Indo-Pacific: Key figures

  • 465 422 km² (including Terre Adélie) in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • Almost 9 million km² of economic exclusive zone (world’s second largest EEZ) in the Indo-Pacific.
  • 6 million French citizens living in French overseas departments and territories.
  • At least 200,000 French Nationals living in the Indo-Pacific States.

In 2018:

  • France exported up to 66.438 billion euros to the Indo-Pacific (defence equipment not included), i.e. 34% of French exports outside European Union (14% overall).
  • France imported up to 95.930 billion euros from the Indo-Pacific (defence equipment not included), i.e. 40% of French imports outside European Union (17% overall).