Thursday (July 29th): Macron in French Polynesia

Emmanuel Macron

Name? Emmanuel Macron

Westphalian identity? French

Age? 43

Why is he in the news? President Emmanuel Macron recently took a trip to Tahiti, a former French colony of the French Polynesian islands. Macron’s trip to French Polynesia focused on the issues of climate change, the growing influence of China in the region, Covid-19, and what dominated much of the airwaves- France’s legacy of nuclear testing on the islands from 1966 to 1996. 

Why do we care? As Macron has adopted a policy of reconciliation with some of its former colonies, notably, Rwanda & Algeria, the French President looks to strengthen its relationships abroad as China’s influence continues to spread. Though reconciliation is important for moving on, it is not an apology; which would be one step closer to paying reparations- perhaps a more meaningful option for French Polynesians. 

Why should you care? Macron pledged the islands a total of $400 million to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and global warming. These funds will help the Polynesian population, but it’s a price France is willing to take to secure its political influence on the islands, therefore you should care 3/10

Who else cares? Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, and Macron met prior to the trip and both emphasized their desire for a “free and open Indo-Pacific”. In short, both Suga and Macron, want to secure their own influence in the region, while removing any possible threat from Beijing. Suga and Macron also hinted that the climate issue may be an open door for business, stating it “is not a constraint but an opportunity for innovation and job creation”.

Any further comments? France conducted 193 tests on the islands in the 30 year period. As a result, ninety percent of Polynesians have been exposed to the radioactive fallout from French tests. For the Polynesians who sought to get compensation from the French government many of them were denied, which Macron has promised to change.