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Security dialogues – Europeans in Indo-Pacific and Chinese in Mediterranean

MERICS: EU-China Weekly Review

As France and Germany develop their defense cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners, China seeks endorsement from European partners.
What you need to know:
  • On March 31, China’s Minister of Defense, Wei Fenghe, concluded a week-long European tour which took him to Hungary and Greece (EU and NATO member), North Macedonia (NATO member) and Serbia. The tour came in the context of increased French and German military presence in the Indo-Pacific and the EU’s work on a joint strategy towards the region.
  • Upcoming French and German security activity in the Indo-Pacific
    • Starting from April 12, two French warships will lead three-days joint military exercises with Quad partners – Australia, India, Japan and the United States – in the Indo-Pacific. The goal of the exercise dubbed “La Perouse” is to develop greater interoperability in crisis situations in the region.
    • On April 16, German and Japanese foreign affairs and defense ministers are expected to hold their first “2+2 dialogue” to discuss cooperation on a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Quick take:

Beijing is displeased with European engagement with the Quad in the Indo-Pacific that may help the security framework to grow further. Wei’s tour certainly sent that message and it was likely planned to create an impression of disunity among EU member states on the security engagement with the Indo-Pacific and to suggest that China is in a position to engage the Mediterranean similarly as European actors do the Indo-Pacific. In any case, it is highly questionable whether the NATO countries visited by Wei would pursue any actions contradictory with the alliance’s hard objectives.
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