An Appeased Neighbourhood: French–Australian Cooperation in the South Pacific Region

  • Paul Soyez
Part of the Studies in Diplomacy and International Relations book series (SID)


The South Pacific region, where both Australia and France are sovereign powers, has played a crucial role in the strategic renewal and mutual empowerment carried out by Canberra and Paris, transforming a suspicious competition into a strong cooperation. Based on important scientific collaboration, used as a continuous link despite political turmoils, French and Australian policy-makers have progressively reassessed their shared interests in the South Pacific in order to merge them and to implement a tangible military partnership for the region’s security. This strategic process has enabled the two Western powers to align their leadership in the face of new regional actors, especially China, whose increasing presence in Oceania is perceived in Canberra and Paris as natural but also threatening. However, in a context of significant aid cuts from Australia, this bilateral partnership has been ambiguously received by the PICs, as Pacific Island nations remain cautious about what they consider as a potential neo-colonialist rapprochement. The concrete collaboration of France and Australia in the South Pacific has generated positive outcomes for both countries’ global ambitions. Australia’s relatively recent support for France’s presence in the South Pacific and for the regional integration of its territories has strengthened France’s power by legitimising its influence in this part of the world, while Paris is currently engaged in the redefinition of its diplomatic narrative in Oceania. French–Australian military cooperation in the South Pacific has inspired the two countries to also collaborate in the Indian Ocean, where France and Australia are keen to defend their shared interests against the rise of new disruptive actors.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Soyez
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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