France’s president has spoken of the creation of a new South Pacific coastguard network to counter “predatory” behavior, aimed primarily at preventing illegal fishing, without naming China specifically.
Speaking on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said partners, including the US, France, Japan, Australia and New Zealand would step up their activities in the South Pacific amid increasing Chinese assertiveness.
Without mentioning China, Macron said that a South Pacific coastguard network would be launched “to better cope with the predatory logic we are all victims of.” He said that the group would be launched around three main objectives: “information sharing, operational cooperation and training.”
A presidential adviser told Reuters that it is primarily targeting illegal fishing that is “for the most part due to private actors.”In recent years, Chinese fishing fleets which are owned by publicly listed companies, have traveled further afield in search of a better catch.
China has refuted the notion that the actions of Chinese vessels were a cause for concern. In June, Chinese state-run media corporation, the Global Times, ran multiple stories dispelling allegations against China depleting ocean fish stocks.
“There are actually not that many deep-sea fishing vessels in China, if we judge from the size of China’s fishery industry,” Wang Yamin, a professor at Shandong University’s School of Oceanography, told the Global Times.
Beijing has also faced stiff opposition from the US and its allies over maritime claims in the South China Sea. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China’s nine-dash line, which suggests China owns the majority of the disputed waters, is “unlawful.”
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