In a written interview with Nikkei Asia, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Paris is “very keen to act to prevent any conflict,” given the importance of the stability of the Taiwan Strait to the security of the Indo-Pacific region.
Le Drain said: “We condemn any attempt to undermine the status quo, any action likely to cause an incident that would lead to an escalation. This is a concern we share with our European partners.”
The French Foreign Minister said France wants to “help affirm and protect” the sovereignty of its partners, at the same time warns about “a world where certain powers are increasing acts of interference and predatory behavior, and making no secret of their hegemonic aims.”
In response to the recent strengthening of European relations with Taiwan and the EU’s consideration of free trade agreements (FTAs) and investment agreements, Le Drian said France would “support any initiative likely to take forward trade relations with Taiwan,” such as expanding market access or removing non-tariff barriers.
Asked whether France was cooperating with the Australia-UK-US trilateral security partnership, or AUKUS, a mechanism set up by the US, UK, and Australia to counter China, Le Drian was negative.
Le Drian said: “The circumstances under which it [AUKUS] was formed were not commensurate with the dialogue and coordination one might expect on such issues”.
However, he said that Paris and Washington are joined “by genuinely similar views” on the Indo-Pacific, notably on countering Chinese military influence in the region.
In October 2021, the European Parliament passed a resolution to strengthen EU-Taiwan relations, highlighting Europe’s rush to distance itself from China and move closer to Taiwan in response to the Chinese government’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
In December 2021, six cross-party lawmakers, including former French National Assembly speaker François de Rugy, traveled to Taiwan to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, even though Paris and Taipei have no formal diplomatic relations.