Why China should tread carefully around French interests in Africa and the Pacific – by Emanuele Scimia (South China Morning Post – August 8, 2023)


At a China-France dialogue in Beijing last month, Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng expressed hope that France “will stabilise the tone of friendly cooperation” with the European Union. This comes as French President Emmanuel Macron tries to promote Europe’s strategic autonomy amid the great power contest between the US and China.

Beijing’s promise of increased economic cooperation suggests it wants help from Paris to repair its deteriorating ties with the EU. But the manoeuvre could fail if China crosses the line in two geopolitical chessboards that France considers strategic and are currently in the spotlight – francophone Africa and the South Pacific.

As China’s influence grows in Africa, France will surely monitor the Chinese position towards the recent military coup in Niger, once a French colony. The French government, along with the European Union, has condemned the coup and emphasised its support for the democratically elected government of President Mohamed Bazoum.

Some observers say China could gain ground in the Sahel region to the detriment of the West, specifically France, given that Beijing does not shy away from dealing with military juntas like that led by Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tiani.

For the rest of this column: https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3230091/why-china-should-tread-carefully-around-french-interests-africa-and-pacific