Embassy of France-RSIS Panel Webinar on “France as an Indo-Pacific Nation: Security and Multilateralism in Challenging Times”
*The panel webinar will be conducted via Zoom.
Please click here to access the webinar on the day of the event.
The return of great power rivalry and the shift of the global economic centre of gravity towards the East has amplified the strategic importance of Asia. The term Indo-Pacific is adopted by a number of actors rather than the previous notion of Asia-Pacific. Far from being a linguistic nuance, the change in nomenclature symbolises the evolving geopolitical environment and the multifaceted challenges facing regional states and those with longstanding interests in the region as the existing global order becomes more uncertain.
France was the first member state of the European Union (EU) to recognise the need to adopt a specific strategy for the Indo-Pacific. Other member states have since formulated their own guidelines, and the EU is now doing the same. France, which will take over the presidency of the Council of the EU in the first semester of 2022, will contribute actively to implement this EU strategy.
By virtue of its overseas territories, some 1.6 million French citizens across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the largest Indo-Pacific Exclusive Economic Zone, France is a resident nation. Published in 2018, France’s Indo-Pacific strategy embodies an approach to maintain stability by upholding a multilateral rules-based order. Permanent military presence and regular deployment of ships, designed to uphold international law and build cooperation through joint exercises, are an integral part of this strategy.
The French Embassy in Singapore and RSIS are presenting this webinar to discuss France’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific, its relevance to ASEAN Centrality, and its actualisation in the field of defence through a presentation by Rear Admiral Jean-Mathieu Rey, French Joint Commander in the Asia-Pacific.
About the Speakers
Geoffrey Till is Emeritus Professor of Maritime Studies at King’s College London and Chairman of the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies. Once Dean of Academic Studies at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College, he is author of nearly 300 books, chapters and articles. Since 2009 he has been a Visiting Professor, Senior Research Fellow and Advisor at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. He now holds the Dudley W. Knox Chair for Naval History and Strategy at the US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. His Understanding Victory: Naval Operations from Trafalgar to the Falklands was published by ABC-Clio in 2014 and he has recently completed a fourth edition of his Seapower: A Guide for the 21st Century (2018) and an edited version of Bo Hu’s Chinese Maritime Power in the 21st Century (2019). His How to Grow a Navy: The Development of Maritime Power is currently being published by Routledge.
Joel Ng is Research Fellow in the Centre for Multilateralism Studies. His research covers regionalism, norms, and integration in the Global South, focusing on ASEAN and the African Union in particular. He has previously worked in the non-profit and private sectors, working on refugee issues and investor relations respectively. He is the author of Contesting Sovereignty: Power and Practice in Africa and Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Joel Ng has a DPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was an Oxford-Swire scholar, and also holds a MA (Distinction) from the University of Sussex, and a BA (Hons) from the University of East Anglia.
Marc Abensour has been the Ambassador of France to Singapore since November 2016. A graduate of the École normale supérieure, he entered the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1994. He served in the Asia and Oceania as well as Strategic Affairs Directorates, and held various postings at the French Embassies in Beijing and Washington and Permanent Representation to NATO. Before coming to Singapore, he was Director of International, Strategic and Technologic Affairs at the General Secretariat for Defense and National Security and then Inspector at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Collin Koh is Research Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies which is a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, based in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has research interests on naval affairs in the Indo-Pacific, focusing on Southeast Asia. Collin has published several op-eds, policy- and academic journal articles as well as chapters for edited volumes covering his research areas. He has also taught at Singapore Armed Forces professional military education and training courses. Besides research and teaching, Collin also contributes his perspectives to various local and international media outlets and participates in activities with geopolitical risks consultancies.
Jean-Mathieu Rey is the French Joint commander of the Asia-Pacific zone (ALPACI) since August 2020. He has a high operational experience on surface warships (air-defense destroyers and aircraft carriers), mainly in the Indo Pacific area and within the naval Special Forces. Detached to the French Foreign Ministry, he was also adviser for security and defence cooperation in Asia and South America. He graduated from the Higher Command and Staff Course in the United Kingdom and French equivalent courses (CHEM and IHEDN).
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong is Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore since November 2014. Concurrently, he is Ambassador-at-Large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, non-resident High Commissioner to Pakistan and non-resident Ambassador to Iran. Mr Ong also serves as Chairman of the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). He was High Commissioner of Singapore to Malaysia from July 2011 to October 2014. He served as Secretary-General of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), based in Jakarta, Indonesia from January 2003 to January 2008.