French Defence Minister Florence Parly (C) visits the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier at a maintenance site at Toulon, southern France last summer. Photo: FRANCK PENNANT / AFP
The Charles de Gaulle, currently in the southern French port of Toulon undergoing renovation, should be ready to sail to the Indian Ocean early next year, Defence Minister Florence Parly said.
France “has always stood in the front line in defence of the inalienable right of freedom of navigation in international waters,” Parly told La Provence newspaper.
“Whenever there are infringements of this fundamental principle of international law, as is currently the case in southern China, we shall make a show of our freedom to act and sail in such waters,” she added.
In May, the French helicopter-carrier Dixmude cruised the South China Sea, while a French air squadron flew over the region in August.
Also in May, French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking on a trip to Australia, said no country could be allowed to dominate the region.
France, Australia and India had a responsibility to protect the region from “hegemony” — a veiled reference to Beijing's growing might, he said.
France has a number of island territories in the Pacific Ocean.