France Proposes Europe Patrol South China Sea

France is proposing that European navies coordinate patrols in the South China Sea as more nations in the region express concern about Beijing’s actions.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday, said the naval patrols would reinforce order if the laws of the sea are not respected. He also indicated they would be used if laws in the Arctic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea are challenged.

“If we want to contain the risk of conflict, we must defend this right, and defend it ourselves,” Mr Le Drian said. The French navy has been deployed three times in the South China Sea so far this year.

Despite recent warnings from the US to curb its efforts to assert claim over disputed islands in the waters of the South China Sea, Beijing has pushed back against Washington and reasserted its sovereignty.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Chinese Admiral Sun Jianguo said his government has “no fear of trouble,” but he added that China would “not bear the consequences, nor will it allow any infringement on its sovereignty and security interest, or stay indifferent to some countries creating chaos in the South China Sea,” according to Reuters.

China would face unspecified U.S. “actions” if it tried to reclaim land at the disputed Scarborough Shoal off the coast of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Saturday.

The issue of territorial claims in the South China Sea was also on the agenda during talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and senior Chinese officials. But it is not the only area upon which the two nations are finding little common ground.

The Wall Street Journal reported that disputes over regulations and trade emerged during discussions held over the weekend, particularly allegations that China is illegally “dumping” steel to the detriment of US steelworkers.

“China and the U.S. are dealing with an array of disputes, from duties on trade, Chinese currency policy and investment hurdles to cybersecurity and China’s new security laws and regulations that restrict foreign nonprofit groups and pressure businesses to transfer technology,” according to the paper.

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