New Caledonia crisis: Does France fear China will dominate Pacific colonies? – by Christine Rovoi (Pacific Media Network – June 7, 2024)

If you think the French Empire – powerful in the 19th and 20th centuries – no longer exists, you may want to think again. Thirteen colonies fly the French flag and speak the French language today. Independence has not yet come to these territories, and New Caledonia is among them.

Located less than 2400km north of Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia has a population of 272,000 (2019 Census) with 40 per cent the Indigenous Kanaks. The Pacific island nation is reeling from political unrest following the 13 May protests, led by pro-independence supporters, in the capital Noumēa last month.

At least seven people, including three young Kanaks, were killed and hundreds injured after the deadly and destructive riots and clashes between the protesters and police in the city. More than 250 people have been arrested by the police.

President Emmanuel Macron sent 3000 soldiers from Paris to quell the unrest and says they will remain in Noumēa until the Olympic Games which France will host from 26 July.

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