Shangri-La Latest: Food, Climate Stir Asia’s Security Concerns
Asia-Pacific countries flagged the threat of rising food prices and climate change at a regional defense forum.
(Bloomberg) -- Asia-Pacific countries flagged the threat of rising food prices and climate change at a regional defense forum, sayings these issues will define diplomacy and security considerations.
Earlier, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an Asia that is free of “aggression and bullying” on Saturday, criticizing China as he laid out America’s vision for the region to security leaders
Both the US and China are using the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue to drum up support for their competing visions for regional stability, even as the war in Ukraine consumes Washington’s attention and Beijing struggles with economic pressures at home.
US and Chinese defense officials said they planned further talks after Austin and his counterpart Wei Fenghe held talks on the sidelines of the conference. The leaders sparred over Taiwan and other regional security issues for almost an hour on Friday.
- US Sees Signs of Asian Nations Examining Future Of Russian Ties
- Austin Urges United Front in Asia to Prevent Repeat of Ukraine
- US, China Defense Chiefs Tout Progress Despite Taiwan Friction
- Japan’s PM Kishida Pledges Expanded Security Role in Asia (1)
- Japan’s Leader Ramps Up Drive to Counter China in Southeast Asia
- Biden Team Sees Path to More Sway in Asia as Xi Moves Stall
(All times Singapore)
Cambodia Won’t Allow a Foreign Military Base (3:30 p.m.)
Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh said Cambodia is “constantly accused” of having given exclusive rights to the foreigners to use Ream naval base, referring to recent reports that China will be building a secret military facility.
It’s a “problematic accusation” and a complete insult to Cambodia’s authority, said Tea Banh, who is also the defense minister. “The development of this space is not a threat to the security of any country or region whether near or far.”
There should be no surprise that Cambodia cooperates with the People’s Liberation Army, Tea Banh said. The Southeast Asian country reserves the right to receive foreign assistance in the form of military equipment, training of its armed force and other aid for self defense, he said.
US Official Sees Asian Countries Examining Ties with Russia (2:57 p.m.)
Southeast Asian nations with long-standing ties with Russia and who have hesitated to pick sides over Ukraine are increasingly questioning the value of that relationship as the war drags on, US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet said.
He said recent talks with Asian leaders have revealed new doubts among nations that officially maintain non-alignment in the war.
Australia Says Climate Change To Drive Key Policies (12:20 p.m.)
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said climate change will now factor in the country’s defense planning and diplomacy.
“People’s lives and livelihoods are increasingly at risk,” said Marles, who is also the minister of defense. “And this in turn, will give rise to new security challenges.
Marles said Australia’s approach to Beijing will be “steady and consistent,” looking for avenues of cooperation where they exist while recognizing China’s growing power and the manner in which that is shaping the region.
“It is reasonable to expect China make clear it does not support the invasion of a sovereign state in violation of the UN Charter to China’s own long standing principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
Singapore Seeks Peaceful Resolution for Sea Territorial Disputes (11:45 a.m.)
Singapore hopes all parties will “exercise restraint and maintain dialogue” on situations in the East China Sea and South China Sea in order to preserve regional peace and stability, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida.
“The issues are complex and unlikely to resolve soon, but they should continue to be managed peacefully in accordance with international law,” he said.
Malaysia Flags Soaring Food Prices as a Security Threat (11:40 a.m.)
Malaysia’s Senior Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said current security threats facing the region are “no longer confined to political factors, they descend to economic considerations.”
The combination of unhappiness from two years of the pandemic and rising food prices have already seen a wave of political instability in countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, he said.
“Food security is critical to peace and stability,” Hishammuddin said, adding there was a window of opportunity now to strengthen regional groups,
France Defends Muted European Presence at Forum (10:43 a.m.)
French defense chief Sebastien Lecornu sought to allay concerns that Europe was too distracted with the war in Ukraine to pay attention to Asia-Pacific developments.
“Sometimes people fear and say that the crisis in Europe and Ukraine might take us away from the Indo-Pacific or might that lead to the French Republic to cut back on some important commitments, even military commitments,” Lecornu said. “This will not be the case.”
Ex-China Envoy to the US Grills Defense Chiefs at Dialogue (10:32 a.m.)
China’s former ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, pushed back on what Beijing sees US-led containment strategy in Asia with a series of pointed questions to defense chiefs.
“We certainly welcome our European friends to join us for regional stability and prosperity,” Cui said. “But are you ready to respect and appreciate the Asian way of solving problems? Is there any attempt to impose on us the NATO way or the European way?”
Cui went on to put a question to Japan, asking whether the country still intended to dump nuclear waste water into the Pacific as this has caused a lot of concern.
Japan Says China-Russia Ties May Deepen Further (10:20 a.m.)
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said ties between Moscow and Beijing may deepen further as Russia is under intense international sanctions. The joint military activities carried out by the two countries are also a cause for concern, he added.
Japan has been a peace loving nation since World War II and played by international laws, Kishi said, However, Japan is now surrounded by “actors possessing nuclear weapons” who are more open in their disregard for international rules.
Indonesia Says War in Ukraine Shows Security Can’t Be Taken for Granted (9:51 a.m.)
Indonesia Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto said the situation in Ukraine has shown the Southeast Asian country cannot take its security and independence for granted, laying the case for strengthening defenses.
He said Indonesia is convinced the leaders of great powers realize they have a “big responsibility” on their shoulders.
“We support a rules-based international order because we are the most affected by any order that just relies on big powers” given the region’s colonial past, he said.
LLoyd Austin Seeks an Asia Free of ‘Bullying’ (8:47 a.m.)
The US Defense Chief said America stands for a world that “respects territorial integrity and political independence,” as well as human rights.
“We feel the headwinds -- from threats and intimidation -- and the obsolete belief in a world carved up into spheres of influence,” he said, according to remarks as prepared for delivery.
Japan’s Pledges Expanded Security Role in Asia (8:30 p.m.)
Kishida vowed his country would expand its security role in Asia, in a speech at an international security forum in Singapore.
“I myself have a strong sense of urgency that ‘Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,’” he said in a keynote address.
He reiterated his view that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait “is also of extreme importance.”
US, China Defense Chiefs Agree to More Talks (6:41 p.m.)
A senior US defense official said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his China counterpart agreed to more talks after discussing Taiwan in a meeting that went on for about an hour.
Austin used his first in-person meeting with China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to renew calls for more measures to keep future crises from escalating into conflict, according to a readout from the Pentagon.
China Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said both sides agreed to keep communicating. Friday’s talk was a “good start” to resuming normal military dialog, he added.
Austin, Wei Finish Meeting at Sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue (6:31 p.m.)
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe met for nearly an hour at the sidelines of the regional security forum. Wei described the meeting as “candid” in response to a shouted question.
Marcos Calls China ‘Strongest Partner’ in Pandemic Recovery (5:37 p.m.)
Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said China is his nation’s “strongest partner” in pandemic recovery, amid renewed tensions in the South China Sea.
The Philippines’ relationship with China is “very important” and “advantageous to both countries,” Marcos said Friday during a livestreamed event. He also pledged to pursue an independent foreign policy, while fostering people-to-people ties with Beijing.
War in Ukraine Should Be ‘Wake Up Call’ for Taiwan, Ex-Minister Says (4:40 p.m.)
The war in Ukraine should provide a “wake up call” for Taipei to develop asymmetric defense capabilities against China, according to Taiwan’s former national defense minister Andrew Yang.
The self-governing island should seek “small, cost effective, agile” systems that can deter and defeat a Chinese invasion, but Taiwan’s military has, for too long, sought to buy “expensive toys” such as fighter jets, submarines and Abrams tanks, Yang said.
Changing will require a great deal of political effort, said Yang, adding that Taiwan’s armed forces have long clung to a “traditional conception of war” which relies on large, expensive weapons systems. “I hope the lessons of Ukraine will be learned,” he said.
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