How does Asia feature in preparations for France’s 2013 Defence White Paper?

200px-Parmesan_Pannacotta_-_Amuse_Bouche_-_Lake_House_Restaurant,_DaylesfordPrior to the release of France’s new White Paper on Defence and National Security (DWP), the General Secretariat for Defence and Security has released an amuse-gueule: “The International and Strategic Evolutions Faced by France“. What does it have to say about Asia?

  • First, it confirms one of the findings of the 2008 DWP, that there is a “progressive shift in the strategic centre of gravity towards Asia”, but notes that this shift has accelerated. Asia “has become the epicenter of the strategic scene”, as a “dynamic hotbed in matters of demographics and innovation” with increasing defence budgets, a concentration of strategic and security risks, nuclear risks and risks of conflicts among states including great powers.
  • Noting maritime tensions in the Eastern and and Southern China seas, “the risk of major conflicts between States remains low in the greater part of the world, it continues to be present, if not magnified, in Asia.”
  • Declares “France is present in the Pacific zone and is developing strong partnerships with Australia and New Zealand.” I guess the former point refers to New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Don’t forget Wallis et Futuna.
  • Observes sharper competition between Asian and European powers for access to Russian gas resources.
  • An environment of tension between Washington and its traditional allies lead some countries to turn towards Asia, in particular towards China.
  • On the US Pivot, “already, the military task forces that are deployed in Europe-Atlantic and Asia-Pacific are almost on a par and the naval resources are a little higher in the Pacific.” The report expresses optimism on American preeminence “in the long term”.
  • Contrasted with Africa, the Middle East and American continent, “in  Asia, the prevalence of a power struggle mind-set, couples with a nationalist propensity, with tensions related to sovereignty issues and with the persistence of territorial disputes, hampers regional integration and, a fortiori, the creation of a security structure.”
  • On the EU’s Common Security & Defence Policy: “The European Defence is currently at a crossroads”. Pooling & cooperation on capabilities and “the search for a shared vision of the role of the Union in maintaining international peace and security” (the latter “still has to be created, in the main”) are “determining factors in the future of European defence”.

And that’s about it.

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