July 14 message: Paris must “re-arm in the Pacific”, says the commander

RNZ Pacific

A senior French military commander has said France should rearm in the Pacific and consider restoring its forces to the level of 30 years ago.

Rear Admiral Jean-Mathieu Rey said Tahiti-info on the eve of July 14, France was to consider becoming better armed ships again with sonars, torpedoes, guns and missiles.

Reacting to alarm in the region over the security pact between China and the Solomon Islands, Rey said France wanted to be a balancing power amid the rivalry between the United States and China.

Rey said that even if nothing had happened yet, there was a risk that China would try to have a military installation in the Solomon Islands, although Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare reassured the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva. this week that would not happen.

Rey said that, if necessary, France opposes China’s illegal actions, but maintains a dialogue with it.

Maintain “a balance”
The commander said that France would continue to maintain a balance by refusing the logic of the two blocks, which could lead to a conflict.

In June, the then French Overseas Minister, Sébastien Lecornu, announced that two new patrol boats would be deployed this year, one in New Caledonia and the other in French Polynesia for what he described such as surveillance and sovereignty missions.

Lecornu also said that this year an exercise would be organized involving Rafale fighter jets and A400 transport planes.

He said that the challenges posed by geopolitical rivalries in a multipolar region could only be met by an inclusive and multilateral response based on respect for the rule of law.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Georges, a Tahitian volunteer in the French armed forces, prepares for the annual July 14 parade in Paris yesterday. Image: Tahiti Info
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