Joint effort needed for a stable Asia

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02 Jul 2018 | DIPLOMACY

Joint effort needed for a stable Asia

// STORY Teo Jing Ting 

// PHOTOS PIONEER photographers

English 华文

Tensions between the United States (US) and China, and other challenges to Asia's stability, were some of the topics discussed at this year's Shangri-La Dialogue. 

A rules-based order among countries is crucial for the progress and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

This was a point repeatedly brought up throughout the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue held from 1 to 3 Jun. In his plenary speech on 3 Jun, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen highlighted the need for countries to tackle security and economic challenges together, and resolve disputes by peaceful means.

US-China relationship crucial for Asia

Addressing the growing tension between the US and China, Dr Ng emphasised the need for all countries to uphold a rules-based order, in order for Asia to continue to thrive and prosper.

Both the US and China are "attempting to address perceived inequalities and accepted principles or practices which disadvantage them", and these deviations from global norms challenge the status quo which had brought prosperity and stability to the Asia-Pacific, he noted.

"It would be a lose-lose scenario for the world if the US and China are unwilling to work together for an inclusive system that both large and small states (can) benefit from".

"We hope that enlightened minds and leadership prevail and the US and China avoid a trade war which can only lead to more losers than winners." 

He added that the relationship among the Northeast Asian states is also critical for Asia's stability.

Noting a positive shift in the relations among China, Japan and South Korea, Dr Ng said that it was encouraging that the three countries recently reconvened a trilateral summit at the ministerial level to strengthen dialogue and cooperation.

Concluding the Code of Conduct 

Speaking to media, Dr Ng also highlighted that one of Singapore's focus areas, as ASEAN chair this year, is to progress towards the conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea. 

He said that the COC should address concerns of both claimant and user states. "(Being) able to sail through these waterways…(with) certainty that nothing untoward will happen...(will be) a key confidence-building measure."

He added that all ASEAN countries have agreed to participate in the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise that will be co-led by Singapore and China later this year. 

This year's Dialogue had the largest turnout to date, with nearly 600 delegates including 40 ministers from 51 countries. 

 


 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM SHANGRI-LA DIALOGUE 2018

1 Jun - 7.56am: Dr Ng (right) hosting US Secretary of Defence James Mattis to breakfast, where they discussed key regional security developments and reaffirmed the strong and friendly defence ties between Singapore and US.
1 Jun - 12.56pm: Dr Ng (far right) and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval (second from right) exchanging a new Implementing Agreement (IA) between the Republic of Singapore Navy and the Indian Navy. The exchange was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (second from left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (far left) at the Istana.
1 Jun - 2.37pm: Lieutenant-General He Lei, Vice President of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science (right), greeting Dr Ng on the sidelines of the Dialogue. During their meeting, they welcomed the conduct of the table-top exercise for the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise in August.
2 Jun - 3.55pm: Dr Ng (right) and German Federal Minister of Defence Dr Ursula von der Leyen exchanging an enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between Singapore and Germany. Building on the first DCA signed in 2005, the new Agreement consolidates key areas of existing cooperation and paves the way for future cooperation, particularly in non-conventional security areas such as cyber and hybrid threats.
Besides covering the existing defence relationship andareas of cooperation between the two countries, this inaugural agreement provides a foundation for future cooperation in more specific areas.
3 Jun - 9.04am: "Malaysia will continue its commitment, and wants to maintain, if not improve, (our) defence ties. It was a very good and warm start." - Dr Ng (right) on meeting newly-appointed Malaysian Minister of Defence Mohamad Sabu.
3 Jun - 1.13pm: Dr Ng (second from left) hosting a luncheon for the attending ministers and their delegates.
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