A British frigate ended a visit to Vietnam on Monday and left some turbulence in its wake – an unlikely social media feud between Britain and France.
The acrimony between Britain and France was fueled by Brexit and the new AUKUS (Australia-UK-US) security pact that led Australia to cancel a large submarine contract with France in favor of American and British technologies.
These tensions surfaced when HMS Richmond, part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier strike group, arrived in central Vietnam last Friday for a four-day visit.
The British Embassy in Vietnam posted a photo of the frigate moored at Cam Ranh Bay on its Twitter page, saying the visit “demonstrates the UK’s commitment to a continued and reliable presence in the Indo- Peaceful”.
A few hours later, the official account of the French Embassy in Vietnam (@FranceauVietnam) replied in the same post: âNice ship @UKinVietnam (British Embassy account)! Ours seems a bit bigger though. It was also at Cam Ranh last spring.
He also retweeted a few photos from April when French Navy helicopter carrier Tonnerre and frigate Surcouf visited Cam Ranh. The two ships were participating in the Navy’s Jeanne D’arc 2021 mission aimed at reaffirming France’s commitment and interest in the Indo-Pacific.
The Tonnerre (Tonnerre) is a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship with a displacement of 21,500 tonnes and capable of carrying 16 heavy helicopters. HMS Richmond carries a helicopter, a Wildcat HMA.2 and has a displacement of 4,900 tonnes.
The post from the French Embassy caused a stir on social media with hundreds of Twitter users, some calling it âsillyâ and âchildishâ.
A commentary says in French: “We have a bigger one!” And nanaereâ¦ â(â We have a bigger one! Nah nah nahâ¦ â)
Another comment, presumably from a UK user: âThat’s nice, someone who always thinks size matters. “
Another commentator, who calls himself Danny Smith: âOur aircraft carriers are a little bigger than yours. No, sorry; they are much bigger and we have 2 of them!
But the bonhomie exchange seemed to intensify with remarks such as: âI expect better from the embassy of a country which gave us Descartes, Voltaire and Sartre, besides many other great thinkers.
Hannah Neumann, German Member of the European Parliament, or MEP, obviously disagreed: âIf it were plastic boats in the pool, that would be funny.
And one American reader summed it up: “As an American, I have to say it’s fun to see you go there.”
Last month, Canberra canceled a $ 27.5 billion submarine contract with France and announced that Australia would build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with technology provided by the United States and the United Kingdom.
Paris called the move a “stab in the back” and recalled its ambassadors from the United States and Australia, but resented the French envoy to Washington two weeks later. French Defense Minister Florence Parly has also canceled talks with her British counterpart.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened by telling France to “take back control” and give Britain’s allies a break. His schoolboy ‘Frenglish’ would not have been very well received by the French media. Johnson is also the leader who sailed the UK’s acrimonious exit from the European Union in 2020.
A round of trade talks between Australia and the European Union, which was due to start on October 12, has been postponed until next month.
HMS Richmond ended its visit to Vietnam on Monday with a PASSEX exercise (passing exercise) with Vietnamese partners at the exit.
The visit came amid the biggest reshuffle ever in the leadership of the Vietnamese Coast Guard, as the force commander, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Song, was sacked for mismanagement and corruption. Eight other senior officials were also dismissed from the Communist Party and were punished.
Prior to HMS Richmond’s arrival in Vietnam, the frigate angered China during its passage through the Taiwan Strait, prompting Beijing to condemn what it called the Kingdom’s “insidious intent”. -United.