With the US increasing its military footprint in Asia to challenge China, some of its European allies are looking to get in on the action. On Monday, a French submarine patrolled the waters of the South China Sea alongside another French Navy ship.
“This extraordinary patrol has just completed a passage in the South China Sea,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter. “A striking proof of the capacity of our French Navy to deploy far away and for a long time together with our Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners.”
Germany and the UK are also planning to deploy ships to the region this year to challenge China’s claims. In an effort to stay relevant, NATO released a report at the end of 2020 that called for the alliance to put more focus on facing Beijing. The report said NATO members should increase cooperation with countries like Australia, Japan, and India.
The French patrol came a day before the US sailed two aircraft carrier strike groups into the South China Sea in a massive show of force. It marked the first time since July that dual US carriers drilled in the waters.
The Biden administration has continued provocations in the South China Sea at a rapid pace. Last week, a US warship sailed within 12 miles of the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands after steaming through the sensitive Taiwan Strait. US warplanes have also been reported flying in the region during the first weeks of Biden’s presidency.