EXCLUSIVE: French senator on West PH Sea tensions: China testing the way we react

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — A French senator urged countries in the Indo-Pacific region to continue working together to stop future provocations in the South China Sea.

In an exclusive interview with CNN Philippines, French Senator Olivier Cadic said China's recent actions in the hotly-contested waters is its way of testing the reactions of the Philippines and other allied nations.

"They test you because they think you are weak… We must review the way we act when there is provocation," added Cadic, who is also the vice president of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee of the French Senate.

Cadic has ended his five-day visit to the Philippines, which is part of his trip to Indo-Pacific countries.

The French senator met with Philippine counterparts, including Senate President Migz Zubiri.

"After Ukraine we think about the possibility of escalation, act of intimidation here from China and it's about to listen from some lawmakers to hear what they think about. I want to discuss with them the situation and how do they plan to react in these provocations come back and come back again," he said.

Cadic added that the Philippines should remain firm in asserting its rights in the West Philippine Sea.

"Don't wait to be attacked. We have to think that this kind of pressure is not acceptable. The international court has decided that this [West Philippine Sea] belong to the Philippines and you must stop that because this in violation of sovereignty of the Philippines," he said.

Enhancing PH-France ties

France is willing to support the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to Cadic.

"We have some equipment that we can discuss with the PH; we feel that we are closer and closer," he said.

Cadic added that aside from military ties, France is also exploring other areas of cooperation with the Philippines, including energy, food, and agriculture.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is expected to embark on a state visit to France in June. Top Philippine and French officials are also set to meet next month for the high-level trip.