France and China have inked a military cooperation agreement believed to be a response to China’s military ambitions in the South China Sea. Times of India reported the agreement was signed Saturday between French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The deal is expected to see increased military cooperation between the two countries in the Indian Ocean.
Under the deal, each country will open its naval bases to warships from the other.
"We have a strong maritime power, a big navy with our nuclear submarines," Macron said on Friday.
France is "very active in this region to preserve collective security and for me India is one of the critical partners to preserve stability in the whole region."
China's territorial ambitions in the South China Sea - its move into the vast Indian Ocean stretching from the Suez Canal to the Malacca Strait — worry world powers.
Modi and Macron are particularly anxious as China extended its military presence by opening a naval base in the eastern African nation of Djibouti last year.
However, Beijing denies any territorial motive against India despite its huge investments and military moves. "The two countries are partners in development not rivals," said the foreign ministry in Beijing.