China’s Expanding Military Power Increases Threat France, EU See Beijing as Full-Fledged Competitor

“Breaking Defense reported on 27 May that France and the European Union are conducting separate strategic review reports. The two countries coincidentally see Beijing as a ‘Systemic’ Rival and are considering how to deal with the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party, which has become a top challenge for the EU. For the EU, this is the first time to launch a strategic review report, which is expected to be published in 2022 under the name of “Strategic Guidance”; for France, as the Chinese Communist Party and Russia’s power rises, Macron’s government recognizes that Europe’s importance is gradually fading, and even Turkey and Iran’s impulsive diplomatic actions threaten European influence.

According to the report, the Macron government is revising the published Strategic Update 2021, following the first French strategic review report four years ago. The report concludes that Europe’s importance in global issues is gradually declining as the power of powers such as Communist China and Russia grows. At the same time, France and its allies are worried about the determination of regional powers such as Turkey and Iran to pursue aggressive diplomacy.

According to Strategy Update 2021, the outbreak of Neoguan pneumonia (Chinese Communist virus pneumonia) has led French leaders to place greater emphasis on the sovereignty element of the defense industry. As the Chinese Communist Party’s military power continues to expand, Strategic Update 2021 directly names it as a full-fledged competitor to Europe.

It is no coincidence that in addition to France’s revision of Strategy Update 2021, the European Union has also launched its first strategic review to consider how to respond to the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party, which has undoubtedly become the EU’s biggest headache. The review is expected to be published in 2022 under the name of “Strategic Guidance”.

As a preparation for the European White Paper, the European Union Council organized an informal meeting of defense ministers at the National Palace in Cluche, Portugal, on the 23rd, which was also attended by French Defense Minister Florence Parly, the report said.

In addition to facilitating the strategic dialogue in the first half of 2021, EU members will also discuss the four cores of the Strategic Guidance, including crisis management, resilience, capabilities and partnerships. Once the document is released and approved by member states, the Strategic Guidance will become the political guiding element of the Common Security and Defense Policy for years to come.

While Beijing’s military growth has focused global attention on the great power rivalry between the United States and the continent, thus making Europe seem to fade in importance; France and European countries are still working on all fronts to increase their own activism and influence in the international arena, with a focus on Africa, the Mediterranean and the Homodes.

The “European-led Maritime Awareness mission in the Strait of Hormuz” (EMASOH) is the most obvious example. EMASOH, which is composed of eight European countries, was established one year ago to promote safety and freedom of navigation for merchant shipping in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.

Under the norms of international law, EMASOH is a naval force of France, Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands, which is equipped by sea and air to reconnoitre the area, reduce tensions and maintain transport security. The mission, of course, includes diplomatic operations in addition to the military approach.

Another example is the Takuba Task Force, which brings together special operations forces from seven European countries to train and assist the Malian army in the fight against terrorism.

In addition, the Macron government has finalized an increase in the defense budget, personnel and equipment until 2025 (at least until 2022) in light of France’s upcoming presidential election. The French military has just announced that it will accelerate the procurement of eight helicopters, with a budget of 300 million euros.

The Caracal helicopter, used by the French Army, Air Force and Special Operations Forces, is the only helicopter in Europe that can refuel in the air. This order will prevent the deterioration of the French aviation industry and provide 960 jobs over three years for Airbus Helicopters, Thales Group, Safran and their suppliers.

In fact, France’s defense budget has continued to increase over the past few years, and its priorities include.

First, the modernization of nuclear and conventional forces as a cornerstone of France’s defense and security policy;

Second, the pursuit of a complete armed forces model to enhance France’s ability to intervene in the face of various threats. In particular, France continues to develop new strategies for cyber, space, artificial intelligence, long-range force projection (related to the new Indo-Pacific strategy), and energy. By investing more resources, France will be able to change the situation in the field and drive technological breakthroughs, ultimately enhancing the strategic autonomy of France and Europe.