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French warship patrolled Taiwan Strait during Chinese drills

Taiwan defense ministry confirmed that French frigate Prairial transited Taiwan Strait

Prairial during RIMPAC 2016.

Prairial during RIMPAC 2016. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A French frigate transited through the Taiwan Strait in the midst of military exercises conducted by China around Taiwan.

French magazine Challenges on Tuesday (April 11) reported that the Prairial, a Floréal-class surveillance frigate of the French Navy had steamed through the Taiwan Strait over the weekend. This overlapped with a three-day period of military exercises conducted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) around Taiwan from April 8-10 dubbed "Joint Sword."

When asked to verify the French report during a press conference on Wednesday (April 12), Deputy Intelligence Minister Yen Yu-hsien (顏有賢) confirmed that a French warship had transited through the Taiwan Strait from south to north in recent days. Yen did not present detailed information on the frigate's activities but emphasized that the military was fully aware of its movements.

On his return flight from a three-day state visit to China on-board COTAM Unité, France’s Air Force One, Macron told Politico that Europe needs to lessen its reliance on the U.S. and evade becoming involved in a clash between China and the U.S. over Taiwan. Macron argued that in order to achieve his goal of “strategic autonomy” for Europe, it must avoid getting involved in crises that are "not ours."

He expressed fears that "overcome with panic" over a crisis in the Taiwan Strait, European nations would "believe we are just America's followers." The French president then stressed that the question European countries must grapple with is whether it is in "our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan?"

Despite being lambasted by politicians, scholars, and journalists from various countries for his remarks on Taiwan, Macron on Wednesday at a press conference in Amsterdam said he stood by his previous comments, but also reaffirmed France's policy on maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait, saying "France is for the status quo in Taiwan" and a "peaceful resolution to the situation."