One Among Many: Changing Geostrategic Interests and Challenges for France in the South Pacific
France, which is both an external and resident South Pacific power by virtue of its possessions there, pursues, or simply inherits, multiple strategic benefits. But the strategic context has changed in recent years. China's increased presence; consequent changes in the engagement of the US, Japan and Taiwan; and the involvement of other players in the global search for resources, means that France is one of many more with influence and interests in a region considered by some as a backwater. These shifts in a way heighten the value of France's strategic returns, while impacting on France's capacity to exert influence and pursue its own objectives in the region. At the same time, France is dealing with demands for greater autonomy and even independence from its two most valuable overseas possessions on which its influence is based, New Caledonia and French Polynesia. How it responds to these demands will directly shape the nature of its future regional presence, which is a strategic asset.