France’s problem with the Anglosphere? We speak English
The nuclear-powered fallout from the UK’s new defence alliance, from Paris to Beijing
Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2021
Facts4EU.Org looks at ‘the Big French Sulk’, Chinese bellicosity, and the re-emergence of Global Britain
A Facts4EU.Org two-part report
Facts4EU.Org summarises the AUKUS facts
with reports from Paris, London, Washington, Canberra, and Beijing
- PART ONE - French fuming, Brexit bonus, what is ‘AUKUS’?
- PART TWO - the Big French Sulk’, the bellicosity of China, and the re-emergence of Global Britain (this report)
On Friday Facts4EU.Org published a report on how the French had immediately starting fuming after the UK, the US, and Australia had torpedoed their €56bn submarine contract, as part of a new trans-global strategic defence alliance called AUKUS.
In this Sunday edition of Facts4EU.Org we update readers on the increasing petulance of the French, the rise of ‘Global Britain’, and the response of China to the new alliance.
‘La grande bouderie française’ (‘the Big French Sulk’)
Much of the attack from the French government on the new AUKUS alliance has come from the French Foreign Secretary, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and has been focused on the consequent cancellation of the French contract to supply 12 diesel-powered submarines to Australia. President Macron has remained uncharacteristically quiet, perhaps because he has both eyes on being re-elected next year and does not wish to become too associated with this major blow to French prestige.
Readers will be familiar with some of the barely diplomatic language used by Monsieur Le Drian when the news broke: “betrayal”, “stab in the back”, “major breakdown of trust”, “insufferable”, etc.
Since then he has gone further. On Friday (17 Sep 2021) he issued another statement:-
“At the request of the President of the Republic, I am recalling to Paris without delay our ambassadors to the United States and to Australia for consultations. This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcements made on 15th September by Australia and the United States.
“The cancellation of the Attack class submarine program binding Australia and France since 2016, and the announcement of a new partnership with the United States … constitute unacceptable behavior between allies and partners, whose consequences directly affect the vision we have of our alliances, of our partnerships and of the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe.”
- Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (17 September 2021)
Er… pardon? Why no mention of the United Kingdom?
Readers may be puzzled by the lack of any immediate action by France against the UK and also by no mention being made at all of the UK’s integral involvement in the new AUKUS alliance. No recall of the French Ambassador to the Court of St James, nor any recognition whatsoever that this is a tri-lateral alliance involving the United Kingdom.
The pro-EU media in the rest of Europe has reported unattributed French officials describing the UK as a junior partner, barely worthy of mention.
President Macron’s ‘Attack Puppy’
It fell to the young and ambitious Clement Beaune, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the man we have previously described as ‘President Macron’s Attack Puppy’, to deliver some scathing remarks about the British involvement in AUKUS. Yesterday he went on France24, France Info, and on Public Senat (the state-run politics and parliamentary channel) to disparage the UK in his typical, anti-British way.
“Our British friends explained to us they were leaving the EU to create Global Britain. We can see that this is a return into the American lap and a form of accepted vassalisation.... The UK is clearly trying to find its feet, perhaps there was a lack of thought about the strategic future. Today they are hiding in the American fold.”
We comment on this in our ‘Observations’ section below.
China’s reaction to the AUKUS alliance – bellicosity and hypocrisy
There were few surprises in China’s reaction to the news of the alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Here are excerpts from the statement from Zhao Lijian, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, on Thursday 16 Sep 2021:
“The nuclear submarine cooperation between the US, the UK and Australia has seriously undermined regional peace and stability, intensified the arms race and undermined international non-proliferation efforts. The export of highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology to Australia by the US and the UK proves once again that they are using nuclear exports as a tool for geopolitical game and adopting double standards. This is extremely irresponsible.
“As a non-nuclear weapon state under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and a party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, Australia is now introducing nuclear submarine technology of strategic and military value. The international community, including Australia's neighboring countries, has full reason to question whether Australia is serious about fulfilling its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. China will pay close attention to the development of the relevant situation.”
“Relevant countries should abandon the outdated Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical perception, respect the will of the people of regional countries and do more to contribute to regional peace, stability and development. Otherwise, they will only end up shooting themselves in the foot.”
Zhao Lijian, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Thurs 16 Sep 2021
Throughout Chinese media and in official statements, the one-party state that is China has constantly referred to the nuclear element, and always refers to the new submarines as “nuclear”, rather than the correct form which is “nuclear-powered”. The Chinese want their people – and those of Indo-Pacific nations – to believe that Australia will have submarines with nuclear weapons. Not only is this completely untrue, it is also contrary to long-established Australian policy as well as to international non-proliferation treaties.
China now operates outside international law – but no-one will say it has become a ‘rogue state’
The list of China’s transgressions against international law and basic standards of human rights has been growing continuously for many years.
When China first opened up to business, western nations and their businesses were keen to rush in and exploit the massive opportunity this represented. For the majority of countries, however, China has done rather better out of the arrangement. China’s trade surplus with the EU is now the biggest out of all countries which the EU trades with, for example. German industry may have sold a significant proportion of its output there, including German cars, but most of the traffic has been the other way.
In a future report, if readers wish, we will summarise the growing list of China’s unacceptable actions and behaviour. Sadly China will become a topic which is likely to dominate foreign news and we are sure readers will wish to know some basic background facts.
What is it with the French?
It is fair to say that one EU country has stood out ‘tête et épaules’ above all others in making life as difficult as possible for Brexit Britain.
From the bureaucratic imposition of every last obstacle to post-Brexit British exporters getting their goods to the EU, to preventing British fishermen from regaining their rights to UK waters, to escorting thousands of illegal migrants across the English Channel, France has been in the vanguard.
In understanding the extreme French reactions it is important to understand certain things.
Firstly, ‘l’amour-propre”, literally ‘self-love’ or more accurately ‘self-esteem’
Make no mistake about it, the new alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia represents a massive blow to French pride. And French pride should never be underestimated.
The reason that the French have barely been able to mention the UK in this row is because to do so would be to recognise the growing importance of the newly-independent United Kingdom. As the new Foreign Secretary characterised it in her article in the Daily Telegraph today: “Global Britain plants its flag on the world stage.”
It is one thing for the US and Australia to commit this ‘act of betrayal’, but for France to recognise that its closest rival is an integral part of a new trans-global alliance is just too much.
Secondly, the French are ‘frustré’ by their membership of the EU
France has done very well over the decades of EU membership. It successfully persuaded other countries to spend the largest part of the EU budget on agriculture, for example, and the Common Agricultural Policy then directly subsidised French farmers more than those in any other EU country.
France is now the major military power in the EU following the departure of the United Kingdom, and is now the only nuclear power in the bloc. Critically, it is also the only EU country which still has strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific, thanks in part to its reluctance to make its former empire independent.
For some years the French have been at the forefront of the drive to create an ‘EU army’, with full EU control of defence operations. With its military strength, France would of course be a major beneficiary. Already, any look at the EU’s military operations shows that many are taking place in francophone countries.
The problem for France is that even after the departure of the UK, other EU countries have been pushing back against the full ‘European Defence Union’ envisaged in the EU Treaty and wholeheartedly promoted by France. This is currently the source of frustration in Paris – even more so now that the newly-independent United Kingdom is forging new alliances worldwide.
Finally, the China question
Over recent years, China has emerged not only as the world’s second-largest economy, but also as the world’s fastest-growing military power. Its navy is now larger than that of the United States in terms of ships, and very soon it will eclipse the US in terms of its offensive power.
Alongside this, we have seen an expansionist Chinese policy in every aspect of global affairs, from influencing educational establishments worldwide, to funding huge investments in developing nations, to occupying islands beyond its borders and illegally claiming rights to the South China Sea.
If we had the funding we would certainly research and publish facts about China’s activities and plans which readers would reasonably want to know before this issue breaks in a major way, which we believe is inevitable.
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[ Sources: French Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Foreign Ministry of China | French media | ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
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