Freedom of navigation

The South China Morning Post reports that “France and Britain will sail warships through the South China Sea to challenge Beijing’s expanding military presence in the disputed waters, their defence ministers said on Sunday.

Good for them. It’s about time someone, other than just Australia, steps up and helps the US with these freedom of navigation exercises.

French armed forces minister Florence Parly said that “although France was not a claimant in the South China Sea disputes, by conducting such exercises “on a regular basis with allies and friends” it was contributing to a rule-based order … [and she added] … “By exercising our freedom of navigation, we also place ourselves in the position of a persistent objector to the creation of any claim to de facto sovereignty on the islands,” … [thus] … Instead of accepting the situation as a fait accompli … France should question it, otherwise it will be established as a right.” She’s exactly right … it is a peaceful, diplomatic exercise designed to register the fact that the straits between all these rocks and shoals are international waters.

Canada should join in this exercise as a friendly gesture to all the nations of the region, including China. It’s time we stood up and did a fair share.

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