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The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

The International Institute for Strategic Studies Arundel House | 6 Temple Place | London | wc2r 2pg | UK

Š August 2017 The International Institute for Strategic Studies Director-General and Chief Executive Dr John Chipman

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or

Editor Dr Tim Huxley

utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now

Contributors Dr Dana Allin, Gullnaz Baig, Nick Childs,

known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in

Dr William Choong, Dr Matthew Cottee, Dr Bastian Giegerich,

any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing

James Hackett, Dr Tim Huxley, Alexander Neill, Sarah Raine,

from the Institute.

Dr Nicholas Redman, Jonathan Stevenson, Jens Wardenaer This publication is also available as an e-book at

Editorial Katherine Carr, Gaynor Roberts, Sam Stocker, Carolyn West Production and Design John Buck, Kelly Verity

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Henry Ling Limited, Dorset.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies is an independent centre for research, information and debate on the problems of conflict, however caused, that have, or potentially have, an important military content. The Council and Staff of the Institute are international and its membership is drawn from over 90 countries. The Institute is independent and it alone decides what activities to conduct. It owes no allegiance to any government, any group of governments or any political or other organisation. The IISS stresses rigorous research with a forward-looking policy orientation and places particular emphasis on bringing new perspectives to the strategic debate.

Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Chapter 1 Keynote address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Chapter 2 First plenary session The United States and Asia-Pacific security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Chapter 3 Second plenary session Upholding the rules-based regional order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Chapter 4 Third plenary session New challenges for crisis management in the Asia-Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Chapter 5 Simultaneous special sessions Session 1 Nuclear dangers in the Asia-Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Session 2 New patterns of security cooperation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Session 3 Defence implications of emerging technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Session 4 Practical measures to avoid conflict at sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

40 42 44 46

Chapter 6 Fourth plenary session Finding common ground on regional security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Chapter 7 Fifth plenary session Global threats and regional security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Chapter 8 The Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Chapter 9 Social media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Chapter 10 Istana Reception and Dinner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Appendices I. I. Selected press coverage of the 2017 IISS Shangri-La Dialogue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 II. II. Selected IISS publications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94


The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

organised the Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme,

organised its 16th annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

which is intended to stimulate thinking and debate security

on 2–4 June 2017. We are delighted to present this report,

questions among a new generation of strategists from the

which summarises the Dialogue’s open proceedings,

region. The 2017 Programme involved 36 Young Leaders,

including all plenary and special sessions. The full tran-

who benefited from an additional sideline that included

scripts of these sessions are available on the IISS website.

meetings with the Australian prime minister and the com-

For the first time, the report also includes a section on the

mander of US Pacific Command.

Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme (SEAYLP).

The substance of the latest IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

The 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue – which opened with a

reflected the security concerns of regional governments,

keynote address from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm

their international interlocutors and the analytical com-

Turnbull – provided participating defence ministers, top-

munity. There was naturally much debate relating to

ranking defence ministry officials, armed forces chiefs and

developments on the Korean Peninsula and in the South

other senior members of national security establishments

China Sea, and about the threat posed by Islamist terrorism

from the Asia-Pacific region with unequalled opportuni-

linked to the Middle East. Uncertainty in the region over

ties to discuss current and emerging security problems in

the commitment and policies of the Trump administration

the region, and to develop their cooperation in response to

in the US also provided an important focus for discussion.

these challenges. This year, 487 delegates participated in

The IISS is grateful to the government of Singapore for

the Dialogue, 48% of them from governments and armed

its continuing generous support, logistical and other, of the

forces. Twenty-eight countries that regularly participate in

Shangri-La Dialogue process under the Memorandum of

the Shangri-La Dialogue sent government delegations, 23 of

Understanding agreed by the IISS and Singapore’s Ministry

which were led by ministers, deputy ministers, permanent

of Defence in 2012. As part of this process, the fifth IISS

secretaries or military chiefs. Thirteen governments that are

Fullerton Forum: Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting was

not regular participants were also represented officially, in

convened successfully in late January 2017 and provided

two cases by full ministers. The Association of Southeast

an important opportunity to explore substantive topics

Asian Nations (ASEAN), the European Union (EU) and

that were developed further at the Dialogue.

NATO also sent high-level delegations, and there was a par-

We also thank the following commercial lead spon-

ticularly strong United States (US) Congressional Delegation

sors for their additional, vital financial support for the

comprising three senators and eight members of the House.

Shangri-La Dialogue: Airbus Group, BAE Systems,

As well as the plenary and special sessions, which

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and to main

involved non-government as well as official delegates and

sponsors the Asahi Shimbun and ST Engineering. The

were covered extensively by both international and regional

Shangri-La Hotel generously sponsored the Dialogue’s

media, government delegates participated in a large number

opening dinner. The IISS looks forward to developing

of private bilateral, trilateral and multilateral meetings with

these partnerships, and forging new ones, in the interest

their counterparts from other participating countries. An

of advancing regional security dialogue and cooperation

important initiative at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue was an

through the Shangri-La Dialogue.

informal meeting between the US Secretary of Defense and the defence ministers of Southeast Asian governments. The

Dr John Chipman CMG,

IISS hosted an opening ministerial reception for national

IISS Director-General and Chief Executive

delegation leaders, and Singapore’s defence minister hosted

Dr Tim Huxley,

two ministerial roundtables. For the second time, the IISS

Executive Director, IISS–Asia




The first Shangri-La Dialogue was convened by the

diversity of participant states, and the broad spec-

IISS in 2002 in response to the evident need for a forum

trum of security challenges evident in the region, the

where the principals of the region’s national defence

IISS has always sought to ensure that the Dialogue’s

establishments – together with their counterparts from

agenda is wide-ranging. There is no confected over-

the United States and other Western countries with

arching theme for each year’s Dialogue; rather the

important security interests in the Asia-Pacific – could

agenda has consistently reflected what the Institute

engage in dialogue aimed at building mutual confi-

sees as the most important contemporary and emerg-

dence and fostering practical cooperation. Since then

ing security concerns in the region. In 2017, there was

it has become, as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm

considerable thematic continuity from the previous

Turnbull said in his keynote address to the 2017 IISS

year’s Shangri-La Dialogue; however, an important

Shangri-La Dialogue, ‘one of the world’s great strate-

new concern arose in the form of many regional states’

gic gatherings’. Originally known as the Asia Security

anxiety over whether the Trump administration would

Summit, it remains the only annual meeting for Asia-

prove to be a reliable security partner.

Pacific defence ministers together with permanent

Discussion at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue mir-

heads of defence ministries and military chiefs; a paral-

rored increasingly acute regional and international

lel meeting convenes intelligence chiefs from selected

concern over the challenge posed by North Korea’s

regional and extra-regional states. The Shangri-La

nuclear-weapon and missile programmes. From the

Dialogue has come to be seen internationally as a

first plenary address by US Secretary of Defense James

vital Asia-Pacific security institution. It provides an

Mattis onwards, ministers underscored the serious-

opportunity for governments not only to explain their

ness with which their countries viewed the Pyongyang

defence and security concerns and to publicise their

regime’s provocative behaviour and the consequent

defence policies, but also to develop their bilateral

rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. However,

and other contacts with each other. The Shangri-La

responding effectively to this problem remained as

Dialogue has helped to cultivate a sense of community

complex and challenging as ever. Although Mattis

among the security establishments of regional coun-

claimed that ‘the era of strategic patience is over’, there

tries and of other powers with significant stakes in the

was little sense of new policy options beyond further

Asia-Pacific. Governments, the expert community and

reinforcing sanctions against North Korea. Moreover,

the media have increasingly viewed the substance and

China and Russia again used the Shangri-La Dialogue

tone of exchanges at the Dialogue as important indica-

as a platform from which to draw attention to their

tors of the state of the region’s security.

unhappiness over the US deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile systems in South Korea.


its relations with the US and other Asia-Pacific secu-

Because of the great geographical extent of the region

rity actors, remained foci for discussion at the 2017

with which the Shangri-La Dialogue is concerned, the

Dialogue. However, there was rather less heat in

The issue of China’s maritime assertiveness, and



General Udomdej Sitabutr, Deputy Minister of Defence, Thailand and Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, Singapore

Professor François Heisbourg, Chairman of the Council, IISS; Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive, IISS and Sylvie Goulard, Minister for Armed Forces, France

the debate over maritime security than at the previ-

waters. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) delegates in

ous several years’ Shangri-La Dialogues. This was

plenary sessions and in the special session concerned

perhaps surprising, given that over the previous 12

with the avoidance of conflict at sea emphasised the

months Beijing’s policies and practice in its maritime

potential of the China–ASEAN Code of Conduct in

littoral had continued on essentially the same trajec-

the South China Sea to help manage tensions, but also

tory – and this despite the July 2016 ruling by the

spoke of the danger that FONOPs might exacerbate

Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague

these same tensions.

overwhelmingly in favour of a case brought by the

The threat posed by the evident connections

Philippines that challenged China’s claims and activi-

between the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS

ties in the South China Sea. However, some Southeast

and ISIL, in the Middle East, and jihadis in the Asia-

Asian countries – notably the Philippines under its

Pacific region (particularly Southeast Asia) was again

new president, Rodrigo Duterte, has inclined towards

the most prominent non-state security challenge dis-

accommodating China’s behaviour, while during

cussed at the Dialogue. The crisis in Marawi in the

early 2017 the new US administration under President

southern Philippines, where local terrorists declaring

Trump appeared to lack a clear strategy for dealing

allegiance to the Islamic State seized control of part

with China’s assertiveness. This changed somewhat

of the city on 23 May, underscored the importance of

shortly before the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue when, in

the topic for the delegations of several Southeast Asian

late May, the US Navy conducted its first Freedom of

countries, as well as their extra-regional partners, and

Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China

it was raised repeatedly in plenary addresses by min-

Sea under the Trump administration. The FONOP

isters. Singapore’s defence minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen,

neatly set the scene for Mattis’s warning to Beijing

emphasised the importance of intelligence cooperation

in his plenary address at the Dialogue that the PCA

and information-sharing in regional and international

ruling was binding and that China should desist from

counter-terrorism efforts.

infringing other states’ interests in the East and South

Since late 2016, a major new concern for govern-

China Seas. In their plenary addresses, other countries’

ments and defence establishments invested in the

defence ministers – including France’s Sylvie Goulard

Asia-Pacific region’s security has been the impact of

and New Zealand’s Mark Mitchell – also emphasised

Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory on

the importance of freedom of navigation in regional

American commitments to allies, security partners


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

and other regional countries. These commitments are widely seen as vital to the maintenance of the rules-based order which has provided the essential framework for the Asia-Pacific’s security and prosperity. Regional anxiety over this matter made itself felt in from the beginning to the end of the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue. US Secretary of Defense Mattis insisted in his plenary speech that the US commitment was ‘enduring’, but not all delegates from the region were reassured. This was evident not only in the discussion that immediately followed Mattis’s address, but also in some ministerial speeches over the subsequent day and a half. In the final plenary session, Singapore’s defence minister, Dr Ng Eng Hen, highlighted the disappointment of his country and others in the region over the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a consequence of its

Major-General Onesy Senesouk, Deputy Minister of National Defence, Laos; Lieutenant-General Nguyen Duc Hai, Director, Institute for Defence Strategic Studies, Ministry of National Defence, Vietnam and Rear Admiral Myint Nwe, Deputy Minister for Defense, Myanmar

‘America First’ doctrine. It has become a tradition that the Shangri-La

need for it to strengthen the regional order by respect-

Dialogue starts with a keynote address at the opening

ing its neighbours’ sovereignty. He also highlighted

dinner delivered by a political leader from a lead-

the challenge for the Association of Southeast Asian

ing participant state. At the inaugural Dialogue in

Nations (ASEAN) of ensuring that it sustained its

2002, Singapore’s then-senior minister Lee Kuan Yew

role ‘in a more complex future’, and promised that

spoke; he was followed in subsequent years by Prime

Australia would be an engaged and constructive part-

Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then-senior minister

ner in facing the region’s challenges.

Goh Chok Tong. In 2009, Kevin Rudd, then-prime

On the Dialogue’s second day, US Secretary

minister of Australia delivered the keynote address,

of Defense James Mattis’s address in the first ple-

followed in 2010 by then-president Lee Myung-bak of

nary session was on the topic of ‘The United States

the Republic of Korea, in 2011 by Prime Minister Dato’

and Asia-Pacific security’. The second plenary, on

Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, in 2012

‘Upholding the rules-based regional order’, featured

by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from

an all-female panel comprising Japanese Minister

Indonesia, in 2013 by then-prime minister Nguyen

of Defense Tomomi Inada, Australian Minister of

Tan Dung of Vietnam, and in 2014 by Prime Minister

Defence Marise Payne, and French Minister for Armed

Shinzo Abe of Japan. In 2015, the 50th anniversary of

Forces Sylvie Goulard. In the third plenary session,

Singapore’s independent statehood, Singapore Prime

Malaysian defence minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin

Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered the keynote

Tun Hussein, Canadian minister of national defence

address, followed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-

Harjit Singh Sajjan, and the Chairman of Pakistan’s

cha of Thailand in 2016.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Zubair

In 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia was the latest in this series of notable leaders to

Mahmood Hayat, discussed ‘New challenges for crisis management in the Asia-Pacific’.

open the Shangri-La Dialogue. In his keynote address,

On the Saturday afternoon, four special sessions

Prime Minister Turnbull emphasised Australia’s view

chaired by IISS directing and senior staff looked in

that a ‘rules-based structure’ for the region was vital

detail at some more specific current and incipient

for continued dynamism. He spoke particularly about

security challenges: ‘Nuclear dangers in the Asia-

China’s increasingly important regional role and the

Pacific’ (this session naturally focusing on the North



Korean challenge); ‘New patterns of security cooperation’; ‘Defence implications of emerging technologies’; and ‘Practical measures to avoid conflict at sea’. A total of 16 panellists, including a deputy minister, defence chiefs, senior officials including a national security adviser, and senior analysts from research institutes, made opening remarks which were followed by frank discussions with participating delegates, both governmental and non-governmental. On







Indonesian Minister of Defense General (Retd) Ryamizard Ryacudu, ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, and General (Retd) Ricardo A David, Jr, the Philippines’ Under Secretary for Defence Policy, spoke in the fourth plenary session on the theme ‘Finding common ground on regional security’. In

Lt General He Lei, Vice President, Academy of Military Science, PLA and Fleur de Villiers, Chair of the Trustees, IISS

the following final plenary, New Zealand’s Minister of Defence, Mark Mitchell, Russian deputy Minister

the diaries of the Asia-Pacific’s defence ministers and

of Defence Lieutenant-General A V Fomin, and

other principals.

Singapore’s Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, discussed ‘Global threats and regional security’.

Such has been the regional and international appeal of the Shangri-La Dialogue that total delegate numbers increased from around 160 in 2002 to 250 in 2006, 330 in 2010, 364 in 2013, 451 in 2014, 490 in 2015,


and a remarkable 602 (45% of whom represented

Since the IISS established the Shangri-La Dialogue,

governments and armed forces) in 2016. These rising

the pressures on the time and attention of defence

delegate numbers resulted from sustained efforts by

ministers, military chiefs and the most senior

the IISS to increase participation by senior officials

national security officials in the Asia-Pacific region

concerned with security matters in foreign ministries

have increased, partly because the substantive chal-

and national security secretariats, and to expand the

lenges to national and regional security have become

numbers of female, media and business delegates.

more complex and demanding, but also as a result of

However, having come to the view that the increas-

the inauguration of other high-level regional defence

ing size of the delegate cohort possibly threatened

forums. These include the ASEAN Defence Ministers’

to impinge on the manageability of the event, in

Meeting (ADMM), its offshoot, the ADMM-Plus

2017 the IISS invited fewer delegates and took even

– involving the defence establishments of eight

greater care than previously in selecting them. As a

ASEAN dialogue partners, as well as those of the

result, there was a total of 487 delegates at the most

ASEAN member-states – and the growing number of

recent Dialogue, 48% of them from governments and

security conferences in the region that are intended

armed forces.

to serve essentially national objectives: these include

Even at the first Shangri-La Dialogue in 2002, the

the Xiangshan Forum organised by China’s PLA, the

defence establishments of many Asia-Pacific coun-

Seoul Defense Dialogue and India’s Raisina Dialogue.

tries were represented at a high level, with defence

It is striking, though, that governments have main-

ministers, deputy ministers or close equivalents par-

tained – and in many cases strengthened – their

ticipating on behalf of 14 countries. In 2017, of the

involvement in the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, which

28 regular participant countries represented at the

has become institutionalised as a recurrent fixture in

Dialogue, 17 sent delegations led by full ministers


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

or, in several cases, their deputies; six others were

importance of the Dialogue and its wish to continue

led by permanent secretaries or armed forces chiefs.

benefiting from the opportunity to explain China’s

As IISS Director-General and Chief Executive Dr

defence policy there, in 2016 Beijing’s representation

John Chipman noted in his remarks before the key-

was (as in 2014 and 2015) at the deputy-chief level,

note address, ‘heavily-charged’ domestic agendas

with Admiral Sun Jianguo leading the PLA delegation.

had kept some defence ministers – including those

In 2017, as Dr Chipman noted in his remarks at the

from Germany, India, the Philippines and the United

Dialogue’s opening dinner, the PLA was in the midst

Kingdom (UK) – ‘busy at home’. Thirteen other coun-

of ‘the most intense and wide-ranging military reform

tries from Europe, the Middle East, Latin America

process in its long history’. Chipman mentioned his

and the South Pacific also sent delegations at the invi-

‘excellent meetings’ in Beijing with senior PLA offic-

tation of the IISS, and two of these were led by full

ers in April and May, when they had told him that

ministers. The countries represented at full ministe-

their preoccupation with the reform process meant

rial or equivalent level were: Australia, Canada, Fiji,

that they could not send a delegation leader of suffi-

France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the

ciently high rank and status to speak in plenary at the

Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Timor-

Dialogue. For that reason, in 2017 the Chinese delega-

Leste, Ukraine and the US. As keynote speaker,

tion – which was led by Lieutenant-General He Lei,

Australia’s prime minister led a strong delegation that

Vice-President of the Academy of Military Science –

also included his country’s defence minister, chief of

expressed China’s positions through speaking roles in

defence force, acting secretary of defence, secretary of

special sessions and interventions in plenary question-

foreign affairs and trade, and the current and desig-

and-answer sessions. However, Chipman also noted

nate commanders of the Malaysian-based five-power

that the PLA had told him that ‘they fully intend in

Integrated Area Defence System. Deputy ministers,

2018 to send … a delegation led by a four-staff officer

high-ranking defence officials or chiefs of defence led

of [Central Military Commission] rank’.

the delegations from the following regular participant






countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China,

Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea,

Germany, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the

Malaysia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and, of

Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UK and

course, Singapore – the host state – have since the

Vietnam. Senior officials also represented or, in some

Dialogue’s early years sent strong delegations usu-

cases, led delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Chile,

ally led by full ministers or their equivalents. Other

Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Tonga, Turkey and the United

governments have strengthened their contingents

Arab Emirates. ASEAN, the European Union (EU)

over time. In 2017, it was notable that Canada, France,

and NATO also sent high-level delegations. The IISS

Indonesia, Switzerland, Thailand and Timor-Leste

was particularly pleased that the ASEAN delegation

all contributed impressively strong government and

was represented by its Secretary-General, who spoke

military delegations. The interest of European gov-

in plenary.

ernments in the Dialogue has continued to grow and

As is always the case, there was intense interest

in 2017 Switzerland – listed as a participating coun-

among other participating governments, the expert

try in its own right for the first time – sent a strong

community and the media regarding the level of partic-

delegation led by its Minister of Defence. Other high-

ipation by China. In keeping with China’s international

level European delegates invited by the IISS included

status, in 2011 General Liang Guanglie, then-minister

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Sweden’s

of national defence, led the PLA delegation to the

Chief of Defence Staff, while Turkey was represented

Shangri-La Dialogue and was the sole speaker in a ple-

by a delegation of senior defence officials. The IISS will

nary session. Regrettably, China has not subsequently

continue to encourage governments not represented at

been represented at the same, appropriate level. While

full ministerial level in 2017 to send stronger delega-

the PLA emphasised its continuing recognition of the

tions to the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018 and beyond.



The importance of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue for the defence and security establishments of Asia-Pacific governments and interested extra-regional powers has been clear from the continued participation of certain national delegations despite domestic political upheavals. In 2015, the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, spoke at the Dialogue although the new British government had been formed less than three weeks earlier. In 2016, Fallon again led the British delegation, despite the imminence of the UK’s crucial referendum on continued membership of the EU. In 2017, French defence minister Sylvie Goulard spoke at the Dialogue despite having been appointed to her role only slightly more than two weeks previously. The Shangri-La Dialogue has consistently provided a platform from which participant countries’ defence

Cirilo José Cristóvão, Minister of Defence, Timor-Leste and Marillyn Hewson, Chief Executive Officer, Lockheed Martin

ministers and other principals have clarified and elaborated their countries’ positions on the most important

of the Dialogue of which it did not have a record. The

regional security topics of the day. However, the

detailed content of such meetings is, naturally, usually

Dialogue has also been a unique venue for proposing

confidential. Nevertheless, governments have some-

and advancing defence initiatives in spheres as diverse

times divulged details of their substance in public

as maritime security cooperation against piracy in the

statements. In 2017, for example, Singapore’s defence

Malacca Strait, the strategic and safety implications of

ministry revealed that the ministerial roundtable that

regional states’ growing submarine capabilities, the

Dr Ng hosted on Saturday 3 June had involved 22 of

regional proliferation of small arms and light weapons,

his counterparts or their representatives. Points agreed

the structure of the regional security architecture, the

by the ministers included the need for greater regional

idea of a ‘no first use of force’ agreement in the South

and international cooperation to prevent terrorists

China Sea, and the enhancement of regional states’

linked to the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in

maritime surveillance and intelligence-sharing capaci-

the region; that the United States’ continued engage-

ties. In 2017, Singapore’s defence minister, Dr Ng Eng

ment in the region was welcome; the importance of

Hen, unveiled a series of initiatives that the city-state

‘healthy and constructive’ relations between China

planned to pursue during its chairmanship of the

and the US; and that North Korea’s provocations

ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting in 2018: a mari-

had grave implications for regional peace and stabil-

time exercise involving ASEAN members and China;

ity. An important innovation at the Dialogue in 2017

the expansion of the Code of Unplanned Encounters

was the informal meeting between the US Secretary

at Sea to all 18 members of the ADMM-Plus grouping;

of Defense and his ten Southeast Asian counterparts

and the establishment of guidelines for encounters

from Southeast Asia.

between ASEAN member-states’ military aircraft. Defence establishments in the region have increasas a venue for private bilateral, trilateral and mul-


tilateral meetings. In 2017, the IISS was – as in the

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue has remained above all a

previous year – aware of almost 90 such meetings in

‘track one’ intergovernmental meeting. Nevertheless,

the Shangri-La Hotel, but recognised that there were

from the first Dialogue onwards participation by non-

almost certainly many other meetings on the sidelines

governmental delegates has animated and enriched

ingly found benefit in using the Shangri-La Dialogue


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, Canada and Mark Mitchell, Minister of Defence, New Zealand

General (Retd) James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, United States; Marise Payne, Minister of Defence, Australia and Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

the proceedings, particularly through the questions

strong defence, security and foreign-affairs interests

that such delegates pose to ministerial and other

and expertise. In 2017, there was a particularly strong

speakers in plenary and special sessions. In 2017, the

CODEL comprising three senators and eight members

IISS sought to alter the balance of the non-govern-

of the House of Representatives. Congressman Mac

mental delegate cohort, placing special emphasis on

Thornberry, Chairman, of the House Armed Services

ensuring a strong Southeast Asian Young Leaders’

Committee spoke from the panel in a special session.

Programme (SEAYLP), even as the overall number of

There were also legislators from Germany, Japan,

non-governmental delegates was reduced. A separate

Malaysia and the UK among the delegates.

chapter in this report provides comprehensive details of the highly successful 2017 SEAYLP. In 2017, the IISS also emphasised the need for a


strong cohort of media delegates, including expert

In his comments at the end of the 2017 IISS Shangri-La

bloggers on regional defence and security as well as

Dialogue, Director-General and Chief Executive Dr

respected newspaper columnists, in the interest of

John Chipman remarked that the IISS was looking

again ensuring strong, international coverage of the

forward to an ‘inclusive, rich defence-minister-led

Dialogue. There was again a diverse selection of pri-

Shangri-La Dialogue which will include all the core

vate-sector delegates. The IISS will in the future seek

participants from the ASEAN Regional Forum coun-

more actively than ever each year to replenish the

tries, but will also allow for that flexible participation

ranks of non-governmental delegates, and to increase

that is sometimes difficult in formal institutions’.

their diversity, with the aim of further expanding

The 17th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue will be held in

awareness of the Shangri-La Dialogue in the wider

Singapore on 1–3 June 2018. In the interim, on 28–30

expert community.

January 2018 the IISS will organise the sixth IISS

Since the first Shangri-La Dialogue in 2002, to

Fullerton Forum: The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa

which then-senator Chuck Hagel led a strong, bipar-

Meeting, which will convene senior defence officials

tisan US Congressional Delegation (CODEL), the

and military officers from participant countries in

IISS has encouraged participation by legislators with

advance of the next Dialogue.




The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue



KEYNOTE ADDRESS Friday 2 June 2017, 20:00 SPEAKER Malcolm Turnbull Prime Minister of Australia

Keynote address In his introductory remarks before the keynote

itself’; he recognised that all states in the region ‘have

address from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm

a vested interest in each other’s security’. Moreover,

Turnbull at the 16th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue’s open-

Lee recognised that peace and stability provided the

ing dinner, IISS Director-General and Chief Executive

‘essential foundation’ for the region’s ‘remarkable

Dr John Chipman noted that Australia shared with

advances in prosperity and freedom’.

other regional states the characteristic of ‘having its

The Australian prime minister highlighted the

most significant economic relationship with China and

rapid economic growth and human advancement

its most important strategic relationship with the US’,

of what he called ‘our region’ over the previous 40

and had an ‘unavoidable, long-term interest in Asian

years. However, the binding economic forces of

security’. Australia, he said, faced the region’s chang-

‘trade, investment and people flows’ had also brought

ing distribution of power ‘with ambivalent sentiment’.

political uncertainty, military capability enhance-

Turnbull started his address by remarking that the

ments and ‘strategic ambition’, he said. Pointing to

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue had ‘grown to become one

the impact of the internet and digital technologies,

of the world’s great strategic gatherings’. Singapore,

Turnbull said that these had ‘connected local aspi-

the location for the Dialogue from its origin 15 years

rations and grievances with global movements’. In

earlier, had been ‘at the very heart of regional strategic

this ‘brave new world’, states could not rely on great

policy thinking’ since independence in 1965. Lee Kuan

powers to protect their interests. They needed to ‘take

Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, ‘keenly under-

responsibility for their own security and prosperity

stood that strategic stability does not just happen by

while recognising we are stronger when sharing the Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

Click to see video


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia and Dr John Chipman, DirectorGeneral and Chief Executive, IISS

Click to see video

burden of collective leadership with trusted partners

States (US). China will succeed by ‘respecting the

and friends’. Growing uncertainty and instability

sovereignty’ of its neighbours, thereby building trust

indicated that all countries needed to play ‘more

and cooperation with them. According to the prime

active roles in protecting and shaping the future of

minister, China had an ‘urgent’ opportunity to build

this region’, according to Turnbull.

trust by taking more effective measures to curb North

‘Australia’s vision’, said the prime minister, was

Korea’s ‘unlawful, reckless and dangerous conduct’.

for ‘a neighbourhood … defined by open markets

‘Consistent US global leadership’ had enabled

and the free flow of goods, services, capital and ideas;

regional peace and stability, and America’s values of

where freedom of navigation goes unchallenged and

freedom, democracy and the rule of law provided this

the rights of small states are untrammelled; … and

leadership with ‘its greatest potency’, said Turnbull.

disagreements are resolved by dialogue in accordance

He argued that US leadership, commitment and

with agreed rules’. Turnbull argued that, in order to

values were ‘more important than ever’. Although the

maintain the region’s dynamism, ‘we must preserve

US had withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

the rules-based structure that has enabled it thus far’.

(TPP) and the Paris climate agreement, ‘we should

But he added that ‘the economic, political and strate-

take care not to rush to interpret an intent to engage

gic currents … are increasingly difficult to navigate’.

on different terms as one not to engage at all’. Indeed,

Turnbull gave special attention to China, empha-

Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson and

sising that it will ‘play a larger role in shaping the

Secretary of Defense Mattis had all made ‘early visits’

region’: it was natural that Beijing should ‘seek strate-

to the region, and President Trump had made a com-

gic influence to match its economic weight’. He added,

mitment to attend the East Asia Summit later in the

though, that China should develop its ‘leadership

year. Turnbull expressed confidence that the Trump

role’ in a way that strengthened ‘the regional order

administration and its successors would recognise that

that has served us all so well’. China had gained the

US national self-interest demanded more, rather than

most from regional peace and harmony, and had the

less, engagement in the Indo-Pacific.

most to lose if these were undermined. Coercion by

The supposed need for Australia ‘to choose between

China would provoke its neighbours’ resentment and

Beijing and Washington’ was, according to the prime

reinforce efforts on their part to bolster their alliances

minister, ‘utterly false’: Australia’s foreign policy

and partnerships with each other and with the United

was ‘determined in Australia’s national interest and

Keynote address


Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, Chinese People’s Liberation Army

Marc Champion, Bloomberg

Australia’s alone’. Its alliance with the US reflected ‘a

of the past can be sustained in a more complex future’.

deep alignment of interests and values’, but it was not

Australia supported a ‘strong, united ASEAN’ that

a ‘straitjacket’ for Australian policymaking. President

would continue to organise and reinforce institutions

Trump’s request for beneficiaries of the United

such as the East Asia Summit. Turnbull said he looked

States’ security commitments to ‘do more militarily

forward to welcoming all ten ASEAN leaders to the

and financially’ was understandable, Turnbull said.

first ASEAN–Australia Special Summit in Sydney in

Australia would ‘pull its weight’ in the region, and

March 2018, and to reinforcing Australia’s strategic

was making its largest-ever peacetime investment in

partnership with the Association.

military capability, with defence spending projected to reach 2% of GDP by 2020.

Concluding, Turnbull argued that ‘the challenges our region faces … should not overawe us’. Such a

Meanwhile, Turnbull noted, Islamist terrorist

dynamic region could solve its own problems ‘so

groups including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, also

long as we are clear about the principles that guide

known as ISIS or ISIL, were ‘very active’ in the region.

us: a region where might is not right, where trans-

Terrorism is a global threat, he said, and is ‘as digi-

parent rules apply to all’, he said, promising that

tal as it is dangerous’. The prime minister said he was

Australia would be ‘an enduring, engaged and con-

‘keenly alert’ to the risk of a ‘mass-casualty attack’

structive partner’.

on Australian victims ‘somewhere in Southeast Asia’. Terrorists returning from Syria and Iraq posed a threat, and transnational collaboration, not least in intelli-


gence-sharing, was needed to combat this challenge.

Following his keynote address, Turnbull responded

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

to questions from delegates in the audience. Senior

(ASEAN) – 50 years old in 2017 – was the region’s

Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo from the Chinese People’s

‘strategic convenor’ and had ‘used its influence over

Liberation Army asked the prime minister about

time to support and maintain the rule of law’. Australia

the nature of ‘the ideal regional security framework,

continued to work ‘assiduously’ to support ASEAN’s

where the bigger fish, the small fish and the shrimps

economic-integration and trade-liberalising agenda.

… can swim freely to make this region peaceful and

The ASEAN–Australia–New Zealand Free Trade

prosperous’. In his answer, Turnbull emphasised the

Agreement was still ASEAN’s most comprehensive

importance of the rule of law and that states should

such arrangement. The challenge for ASEAN, argued

not ‘use their coercive power to intimidate or bully

Turnbull, was ‘to show that the impressive tradecraft

others’. He went on to say that it was ‘vitally impor-


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

tant’ that all powers refrain from unilateral actions that

‘the capacity, the responsibility’ to take up this ‘oppor-

might provoke tensions, such as the ‘militarisation of

tunity for leadership’. Finally, Turnbull was asked if

disputed territories or addressing disputed matters

Australia was likely to mount freedom-of-navigation

other than through peaceful negotiation in accordance

patrols ‘to support the rules-based order and open sea

with the rule of law’. It was vital, he said, for China

lanes of communication’. He replied that Australia

and other powers to ‘to respect the rights of others; the

maintained and exercised freedom of navigation and

big fish respect the little fish and the shrimps’.

overflight throughout the region. Continuing, he said

Marc Champion from Bloomberg asked the prime minister whether he was confident that the US

that countries should ‘work harder’ to ensure that the rule of law prevailed.

administration’s policy towards North Korea would

Closing the session, Chipman offered Turnbull

underpin the ‘rule-of-law system’ about which he had

‘three votes of thanks’: for a speech that set ‘such a

spoken in his address, or whether it might result in

constructive tone’ for the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue;

‘just another transaction’. Turnbull replied that China

for Australia’s ‘tremendous fidelity’ to the Shangri-La

possessed ‘overwhelmingly the greatest leverage over

Dialogue process; and for Australia’s support for

the DPRK’, and the ‘eyes of the world’ were on Beijing

the Dialogue’s Southeast Asian Young Leaders’

in that context. While China experienced ‘frustrations

Programme (SEAYLP) aimed at building ‘the succes-

and difficulties’ in dealing with North Korea, it had

sor generation of strategists in Southeast Asia’.

Keynote address



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 2 The United States and Asia-Pacific security

FIRST PLENARY SESSION Saturday 3 June 2017, 09:00 SPEAKER General (Retd) James Mattis Secretary of Defense, United States


The United States and Asia-Pacific security General (Retd) James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, United States

Click to see video

United States (US) Secretary of Defense James

armed ballistic missiles’ posed direct threats to US

Mattis opened the first full day of the 2017 Shangri-La

allies and partners, and was paralleled by ‘a long

Dialogue with words of reassurance. In the face of

record of murder of diplomats, of kidnapping inno-

openly expressed doubts regarding the Trump admin-

cents, of killing of sailors and other criminal activity’.

istration’s reliability as an ally and partner, Mattis

Mattis repeated a signature declaration of President

insisted that the US was ‘enduring’ in its ‘commit-

Trump: ‘the era of strategic patience is over’. He

ment to the security and prosperity of the region’.

added that the administration has been encouraged

Like Malcolm Turnbull, who had delivered the pre-

by China’s ‘renewed commitment’ to work towards a

vious evening’s keynote address, he argued that a

denuclearised Korean Peninsula and he repeated, by

‘rules-based international order’ had benefited all the

way of US reassurance to Beijing, ‘that our goal is not

region’s countries and should be maintained. That

regime change and we do not want to destabilise the

order, he said, was based on ‘principles that have

Asia-Pacific region’. Mattis emphasised that, in deal-

stood the test of time’ – encompassing ‘equal respect

ing with the Korean crisis, the US ‘will maintain our

for international law (regardless of a nation’s wealth

close coordination and cooperation with the Republic

or size) and freedom of navigation and overflight,

of Korea and Japan’.

including keeping shipping lanes open, for all nations’ commercial benefit’.

The urgency of the North Korean challenge will not detract the US from its other obligations, Mattis

Secretary Mattis listed North Korea as ‘the most

said. Among those is managing the difficult relation-

urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security in

ship between China and the US. China ‘occupies a

the Asia-Pacific’. Its ‘clear intent to acquire nuclear-

legitimate position of influence in the Pacific’ and


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

General (Retd) James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, United States and Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive, IISS

‘conflict is not inevitable’, he said. Yet there is risk

The first is strengthening alliances; in this regard he

of ‘economic and political friction’ between the two

noted forms of enhanced cooperation with Australia,

countries, and the US ‘cannot accept Chinese actions

Japan, the Philippines and Thailand. A second strand

that impinge on the interests of the international

of regional strategy, Mattis said, ‘is to empower

community’ and which undermine the ‘rules-based

countries in the region so they can be even stronger

order’. In this context, he warned against Chinese

contributors to their own peace and stability’. Here

actions that infringe on the rights of other nations


in the East and South China Seas, including ‘mili-

theme, calling upon ‘all countries to contribute sig-

tarising artificial islands and enforcing excessive

nificantly to their own security’. Under the rubric of

maritime claims’. He insisted that last year’s ruling

empowerment, Mattis mentioned partnerships with

on the South China Sea by the Permanent Court of

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Arbitration is binding on all claimants, and asserted

India, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. Finally, Mattis

that the ‘scope and effect’ of ‘China’s construction

noted a strengthening of US military capabilities in

activities’ there are beyond those of other countries in

the region. At present, he said, ‘60% of all US Navy

key aspects, including ‘the nature of its militarisation,

ships, 55% of US Army forces and about two-thirds

China’s disregard for international law, its contempt

of Fleet Marine forces are assigned to the US-Pacific

for other nations’ interests and its efforts to dismiss

command area of responsibility’. These assignments

non-adversarial resolution of issues’.

would soon be supplemented by having ‘60% of our

Mattis also noted the threat to Southeast Asia






overseas tactical aviation assets’ in the theatre.

from ‘violent extremist organisations’, most worryingly, Islamic State militants who during the previous week had attempted to take control of Marawi City


in the southern Philippines. He promised American

Mattis’s presentation in itself was well received;

support against the terrorists and called for unity of

however, there was notable scepticism among del-

effort, ‘strengthened by moral clarity, political will

egates about whether his affirmations were a reliable

and implacable commitment’. Against these and other

guide to Trump administration policy. Dr Michael

challenges, Mattis described three ways that the US

Fullilove, IISS Council Member and Director of the

Department of Defense is pursuing regional stability.

Lowy Institute in Sydney said that he agreed with

First plenary session


Dr Michael Fullilove, IISS Council Member and Director of the Lowy Institute in Sydney

Taro Kono, House of Representatives Member, Japan

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Mattis’s ‘strong remarks’ on rules-based order, but

Responding to these concerns, Mattis acknowledged

added that ‘President Trump appears to be an unbe-

that ‘obviously we have a new president in Washington

liever’. Alluding to Dean Acheson’s famous claim of

DC … and there are going to be fresh approaches

being ‘present at the creation’ of that order, and noting

taken’. But he asked his audience to take the long view,

Trump’s prevarication on NATO and rejection of the

noting that the US had devoted considerable blood

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Paris climate

and treasure to supporting world order and that there

agreement, Fullilove asked, ‘why should we not fret

were recurrent bouts of American frustration ‘that at

that we are present at the destruction of that order?’

times we have carried an inordinate burden’, but that

Other questioners echoed this worry, including Japan

‘engagement with the world’ is still ‘deeply rooted

House of Representatives Member Taro Kono; and

in the American psyche’. He closed by paraphrasing

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the National

Churchill: ‘once we’ve exhausted all possible alterna-

University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of

tives, the Americans will do the right thing’.

Public Policy, who focused his concern on President

egates. Senior Colonel Xu Qiyu of the National

Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP.

Senior Colonel Xu Qiyu, National Defense University’s Strategic Research Institute, China


There were two interventions from Chinese del-

Major-General (Retd) Yao Yunzhu, Director Emeritus, Center on China-America Defense Relations, Academy of Military Science, People’s Liberation Army, China

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Dr Lynn Kuok, Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Centre for International Law

Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor of The Times

Hiroyuki Akita, Nikkei Asian Review

Defense University’s Strategic Research Institute,

Singapore’s Centre for International Law, wondered

asked whether the US Defense Secretary’s mention of

whether the United States’ commitment to defend

defence ties between the US and Taiwan signified ‘some

international rights of navigation in the South China

change with regard to the One China policy’. And

Sea might be sacrificed for greater Chinese cooperation

Major-General (Retd) Yao Yunzhu, Director Emeritus

against Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programme.

of the PLA Academy of Military Science’s Center

Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor of The Times, noting

on China-American Defense Relations, challenged

that Mattis had abjured regime change, nonetheless

Mattis’s assertion of international rules of navigation

asked ‘Does the North Korean government of Kim

by noting that the US is not party to the United Nations

Jong-un have a right to exist?’ Hiroyuki Akita from

Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Mattis

the Nikkei Asian Review asked if the US might attack

in response said there was no change to America’s

North Korea pre-emptively and without warning to

One China policy, and that UNCLOS is not the only

citizens and foreigners in South Korea.

source of rules; ‘there is a tradition in the sea’ of areas

Mattis replied that ‘there is a lot more’ between the

‘that have been used as international waters since time

US and China ‘than just two issues’, and they would

began’ and they ‘should not be unilaterally changed’.

all have to be managed. On the worry that had been

There was also a set of questions regarding Mattis’s

voiced regarding a pre-emptive US strike, he said ‘We

assertions on North Korea. Dr Lynn Kuok, Senior

are working diplomatically, economically. We are

Visiting Research Fellow at the National University of

trying to exhaust all possible alternatives’.

First plenary session



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 3 Upholding the rules-based regional order

SECOND PLENARY SESSION Saturday 3 June 2017, 09:30 SPEAKERS Tomomi Inada Minister of Defense, Japan Marise Payne Minister of Defence, Australia Sylvie Goulard Minister for Armed Forces, France


Upholding the rules-based regional order Tomomi Inada, Minister of Defense, Japan

Click to see video

Tomomi Inada, Japan’s minister of defence, opened

The minister described the United States (US) as

the second plenary session, noting that the rules-based

a long-term Pacific power and characterised the US–

order had delivered a safe, stable, and inclusive world.

Japan alliance as a public good that contributes to

She said it was ‘unwise and counterproductive’ for

regional peace and security. She noted her extensive

countries which, in economic terms, had benefited

collaboration with James Mattis, her US counterpart.

most from this system to undermine it. Rules had to

This cooperation of late has focused particularly on

adapt in order to remain relevant, the minister argued,

North Korea, which flouts international law and United

but this had to be done in an orderly manner and

Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions. Inada said

without recourse to unilateral action. On that theme,

that Japan fully supports the US position that ‘all

she praised the essential role of the Association of

options are on the table’. She called for increased pres-

Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in sustaining the

sure on North Korea to fulfil its obligations.

rules-based international order.

Without explicitly naming China, Inada made ref-

During the current premiership of Shinzo Abe,

erence to incursions by the Chinese navy into Japan’s

Japan has become an active proponent of the rules-

territorial waters. She also noted the unilateral efforts

based order, Inada said, and legislative changes

of some countries to change the status quo in the South

adopted in 2016 were intended not only to boost

China Sea. The rules-based order is under threat, the

domestic security but to contribute to peace and sta-

minister concluded, and the solution is contained in

bility internationally. She added that Japan would

three Cs – confidence-building, capacity-building and

continue to act to uphold the international order.

combined effort.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Marise Payne, Minister of Defence, Australia

Click to see video

Marise Payne, Australia’s defence minister, said

Australia will also contribute to put pressure on North

that it was important for the region to be more open

Korea to adhere to the rules-based order, in its case

to the rest of the world as the global economy’s centre

regarding the norms of nuclear non-proliferation,

of gravity shifts to the Indo-Pacific, which is forecast to

the minister said. She welcomed China’s recent criti-

account for one-third of global GDP by 2030. By then,

cism of North Korea and its support for UN Security

ASEAN will have become the world’s fourth-largest

Council sanctions, and expressed the hope that China

market after the China, the European Union (EU) and

would use its unique economic and financial leverage

the US. The absence of major conflict within ASEAN

on Pyongyang to manage this instability. Australia

over the last quarter of a century is the result of con-

seeks to work with China to address this strategic

certed efforts to craft and uphold a rules-based order,

challenge, she added.

the minister said. Upholding that order remains vital.

Australia is further concerned at the risks to regional

Payne warned delegates that it was erroneous to

stability posed by fighters returning home from con-

believe that economic interdependence in the region

flicts in the Middle East. The defeat of the Islamic

would guarantee security. Rather, it was necessary to

State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in Iraq and Syria, to

invest in security cooperation at a level commensurate

which Australia is contributing, could be followed by

with the investment in economic cooperation. She said

the relocation of jihadis to Southeast Asia – a concern

China was the greatest beneficiary of regional order,

that the minister said she had raised at every defence

as half a billion Chinese had been raised out of pov-

ministerial meeting since 2015. Returning fighters

erty, in large part due to China’s integration with the

could be agents of radicalisation, the minister noted.

global economy. That prosperity, she said, had ben-

Recent ISIS-inspired attacks in Indonesia and more

efited many other countries too. Maintaining shared

recently in Marawi were a reminder of the persistent

prosperity required maintenance of the rules.

threat, Payne said. In response, Australia is building

Referring to overlapping territorial claims in the

regional counter-terrorism capabilities and hopes to

South China Sea, Payne called on all countries to act

see the strengthening of regional cooperation mecha-

in accordance with international law, including the

nisms such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN

decision of the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal. She promised

Defence Ministers’ Meetings-Plus (ADMM-Plus).

that Australia would continue to uphold international






law – and to exercise its rights under international

Minister for Armed Forces, said that French President

law, including freedom of navigation and overflight.

Emmanuel Macron was committed to openness,

Second plenary session


Sylvie Goulard, Minister for Armed Forces, France

Click to see video

respecting existing international commitments and

Because one-third of global trade passes through

remaining resolute in upholding international peace

the area, any crisis in the South China Sea would be

and security, including through the use of military

of keen interest to the EU. France’s commitment to

instruments where necessary. In the Asia-Pacific,

upholding compliance with the UN Convention on the

France has 1.6million nationals, vast territories and

Law of the Sea is steadfast, the minister said, and it is

an Exclusive Economic Zone of more than 9m square

committed to maintaining a regular naval presence in

kilometres; thus it is resolved to be a powerful contrib-

the region. It is important that the rules-based order

utor to the region’s peace and stability, which derive

can evolve rather than stagnate, she said, but only

importantly from compliance with international law

within the framework of peaceful, friendly discus-

and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

sions. France rejects unilateral initiatives and ‘survival

All states must fight to uphold the rules-based

of the fittest’.

order, the minister said, and Europe knows well the

Climate change and the unsustainable exploitation

risks of challenges to it. As examples, she noted chal-

of the ecosystem are damaging societies, the minis-

lenges to state borders, cyber-propaganda, and also

ter said, and could trigger migration. Goulard said

the rise of ISIS in the Middle East and most recently

she regretted the US president’s decision to step out-

in Marawi in the southern Philippines. France shared

side the COP21 Paris agreement but was delighted

the concern about the impact of returning fighters on

that other countries had committed to the endeavour,

regional stability. Goulard highlighted three major

including local authorities and other entities in the US.

concerns for the Asia-Pacific region: North Korea, the South China Sea and the threats emanating from climate change. North Korea, she noted, is the only


state to have conducted nuclear tests in the twenty-

In the discussion that followed the three ministers’

first century and it is developing offensive cyber

addresses, Professor Paul Evans of the University of

capabilities. It is also suspected of having offensive

British Columbia asked how far the region could trust

chemical and biological weapon programmes. The

the US to sustain the rules-based order in light of the

minister called on all states scrupulously to uphold

Trump administration’s decisions to withdraw from

UN sanctions and stated France’s determination to

Trans-Pacific Partnership and the COP21 Paris agree-

contribute, if necessary, to new sanctions through the

ment. Payne responded that the US–Australia bilateral

UN and the EU.

relationship had a deep structural quality and that


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Professor Paul Evans, University of British Columbia

Dr Sylvia Yazid, Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia

Senior Captain Zhang Ye, World Naval Research Office, People’s Liberation Army, China

the person-to-person contacts remained very solid.

to help implement such agreements. Senior Captain

Discussion of the rules-based order is a foundational

Zhang Ye of the Chinese PLA’s World Naval Research

issue that binds states together. Dr Sylvia Yazid of

Office invited Minister Inada to assess the frame-

Indonesia’s Parahyangan Catholic University asked

work Code of Conduct (CoC) approved in May 2017

about the contribution of civil society to upholding

by China and the states of ASEAN. Inada answered

the rules-based order. Goulard responded that it was

that Japan welcomes the CoC but that not all parts

important to involve NGOs, companies and all stake-

of it were yet clear. It was important, she added, that

holders as envisaged by the COP 21 Paris agreement.

further dialogue would be conducted on the basis of

These actors’ interests can differ from those of their

international law, non-militarisation and the inter-

governments, she noted, and they had the capability

ested state parties’ self-control.

Second plenary session



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 4 New challenges for crisis management in the AsiaPacific

THIRD PLENARY SESSION Saturday 3 June 2017, 11:30 SPEAKERS Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Minister of Defence, Malaysia Harjit Singh Sajjan Minister of National Defence, Canada General Zubair Mahmood Hayat Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Pakistan Armed Forces


New challenges for crisis management in the Asia-Pacific Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Minister of Defence, Malaysia

Click to see video

Malaysian defence minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin

challenges, he said, the most immediate is the first,

Tun Hussein provided the first of three different per-

with the Asia-Pacific in Daesh’s ‘cross hairs’. This

spectives on crisis management in the Asia-Pacific.

threat, according to the minister, is multidimensional.

Hishammuddin warned that the region is faced with

He referred to the ‘insidious’ nature of radicalisation,

a range of fires, small and big, that regional powers

and he asked whether the response to this challenge is

will have to scramble to put out. He suggested that the

political, socio-economic or theological.

region is in a paradoxical position: at relative peace,

On the Korean Peninsula, Hishammuddin argued

but with underlying tensions and actions by non-

that the worsening situation is not exclusively due to

state actors that threaten regional tranquillity; global

‘the erratic, unpredictable’ nature of the Pyongyang

economics shifting eastwards but with regional econ-

regime. He highlighted controversy over the Terminal

omies fragile; and regional security still predicated

High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, which

upon ‘the whims’ of major powers.

he said makes for a potentially combustible situation,

Hishammuddin identified five key challenges: the

and called for restraint. Regarding the South China

proliferation of the Asia-Pacific ambitions of Islamic

Sea, the minister highlighted progress on the frame-

State, also known as ISIS or ISIL; escalating tensions

work for a code of conduct between China and the

and volatility on the Korean Peninsula; ‘inconsisten-

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

cies in the quest for hegemony in the South China

But he said that he remained guarded, and cautioned

Sea’; democratisation of the information flow, fake

about the risk of a ‘black swan’ event. He said the

news, and cyber security vulnerabilities; and the rise

South China Sea situation must be resolved peace-

of authoritarian and populist nationalism. Of these

fully through multilateral platforms.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, Canada

Click to see video

Hishammuddin argued that governments need to

groupings, pointing to the planned trilateral sea and

understand better the seemingly uncontrolled spread

air patrols in the Sulu Strait. But he also called for the

of information and simultaneous streams of differ-

strengthening of ASEAN’s credibility. He suggested

ing narratives. In terms of the rise of authoritarian,

that the route to greater confidence and trust could

populist nationalism, he argued that this is a global

be through military diplomacy and humanitarian

phenomenon, but that having been on the receiving

assistance and disaster relief. Finally, Hishammuddin

end of lectures on the importance of globalisation, the

emphasised that leadership remains indispensable,

region could become its standard-bearer. However, a

and that this is a time for ‘patience, courage, wisdom,

‘more open and interconnected world’ needs to ‘ben-

sincerity and a stomach of steel’.

efit everyone’ if political turmoil is to be avoided. The

Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit

minister also warned against seeing the management

Singh Sajjan, stressed that Canada is very much a

of world affairs as a zero-sum game and as the weak-

part of the Pacific community, with a 25,000-kilometre

ening of international institutions and processes. He

Pacific coastline, and many of its top trading partners

also pointed to the positive cooperative reaction to

in Asia. But the minister also pointed out that, like

both the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370

himself, 2.3 million Canadians were of Asian origin.

and the shooting down of MH17.

Committing Canada to Asia-Pacific engagement, the

In response to all these challenges, Hishammuddin

minister highlighted the changing nature of modern

proposed five solutions: the championing of modera-

conflicts and crises, including violent extremism,

tion, including across borders; renewed commitments

devastating natural disasters, and territorial and

to regional and international cooperation; building

maritime disputes. He insisted that coordinated and

trust and confidence; making security relevant in the

multilateral approaches to crisis management hold

digital age; and firm but compassionate leadership. He

the key to managing these challenges. Sajjan high-

said the threat of religious extremism cannot be met

lighted Canadian funding of the ASEAN Operation

by one country alone, or just by hard solutions. The

Sunbird counter-terrorism partnership with Interpol,

war of ideas needs to be won through moderation, and

based in Singapore, and continued investment in

he highlighted the inception of the joint King Salman

counter-terrorism capacity-building. The Canadian

Centre for International Peace between Malaysia

defence minister also pointed to Canada’s disaster

and Saudi Arabia. On the future of cooperation,

assistance deployments, as well as its naval deploy-

Hishammuddin focused particularly on subregional

ments in the region.

Third plenary session


General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Pakistan Armed Forces

Click to see video

On regional tensions, the Canadian minister called

tive security mechanisms, deterrence, and diplomacy,

for restraint, notably over tensions in the Korean

but said that traditional approaches are insufficient to

Peninsula. He said Canada is bolstering its support for

address transnational terrorism threats. He indicated

the United Nations (UN), for example, with the supply

the increasing importance of economic interdepend-

of additional personnel and resources for peace opera-

ence and trade promotion, and pointed in particular to

tions, and said that global challenges, including in

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which he said

Asia, are too vast and too complex for one nation or

could dilute the incentives for conflict. On the prac-

one region alone.

tical front at the subregional level, Hayat called for

Speaking for Pakistan, General Zubair Mahmood

improved communication channels, both military and

Hayat, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

political, hotlines and notification measures for mili-

Committee, argued that South Asian challenges on

tary exercises and manoeuvres, and the promotion of

crisis management have increased owing to a lack

arms control arrangements. He also argued in favour

of mutual trust and political will and an absence of

of keeping the Indian Ocean ‘immune’ from Asia-

dialogue and interest from the major powers. The

Pacific contestation, but for South Asian participation

emerging threats of ISIS and maritime terrorism, with

in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He pointed

the increased availability of new technology, affect

to Pakistan’s participation in humanitarian assistance,

regional states in different ways, the General said. He

disaster relief, counter-terrorism, and counter-piracy

also noted the apparent lack of shared threat percep-

operations, and in UN peacekeeping operations.

tions. But he argued that the Pacific and Indian oceans are large enough to accommodate both common and competing interests. The way to manage competing


interests was ‘soft balancing’, he said.

Several questions were directed towards Malaysia’s

Successful crisis management in the Asia-Pacific

defence minister. Senior Colonel Zhou Bo from


China’s Ministry of National Defense asked what

involvement from the major powers, the General

a perfect code of conduct for the South China Sea

said. He added that there is a need for restraint and

would look like. Dr Dana Allin of the IISS asked

the shaping of an environment of trust by reducing

Hishammuddin, in particular, whether President

the scale of military manoeuvres. He called for classic

Trump’s vision is consistent with an appeal to global

approaches to economic cooperation and collabora-

solidarity, and for his view of the chances of not acci-






The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, Ministry of National Defense, China

Dr Dana Allin, IISS

Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor of The Times

Patrick Keller, Konrad Adenauer Foundation

dental or unintended incidents at sea, but intended

initiative, he said that this was intended to show the

ones. Richard Lloyd Parry of The Times queried the

willingness of its members to take action at the subre-

continuing relevance of the Five Power Defence

gional level against a common threat.

Arrangements (FPDA). On the South China Sea,

Patrick Keller of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Hishammuddin responded that he had not said he

asked Canada’s minister about the challenges to the

was pessimistic on the code of conduct, but he was

UN peacekeeping model and the consequent need

guarded out of concern that a ‘black swan’ event,

for reforms. Sajjan replied that the UN headquarters

perhaps involving fishermen or coastguards, could

evidently understood the challenges in terms of train-

spiral out of control. On the FPDA, he said that two

ing, equipment standards, and the consistency of

years ago its relevance might have been questioned,

mandates. Useful discussions were under way, and

but its members had much to contribute in tackling

the UN is looking towards an integrated, comprehen-

terrorism. He added that the situation on the Korean

sive peacekeeping approach, necessary because of the

Peninsula also made the FPDA more important in

type of challenges now faced, including the threat of

terms of balances and checks in the region. On the

radicalisation. Dr John Chipman, as session chair,

Trump administration’s policies, Hishammuddin

pressed General Hayat to elaborate on his reference to

said the region was still trying to understand them.

‘soft balancing’. Hayat said that this covered strategic,

In the meantime, he said, there is nothing to stop

economic, and diplomatic interests, and referred to

regional states working with established United

reconciling differences in these through constructive

States (US) institutions such as Pacific Command.

engagement. The alternative, he said, is hard balanc-

With further reference to the tripartite Sulu Straits

ing and the threat of force.

Third plenary session



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue



SIMULTANEOUS SPECIAL SESSIONS Saturday 3 June 2017 Session 1 Nuclear dangers in the Asia-Pacific Session 2 New patterns of security cooperation Session 3 Defence implications of emerging technologies Session 4 Practical measures to avoid conflict at sea


Nuclear dangers in the Asia-Pacific

Click for transcript and audio

CHAIR The session focused on the growing threat posed by

Mark Fitzpatrick Executive Director, IISS-Americas

North Korea. All four speakers highlighted the rapid progress made by Pyongyang in both nuclear-weapon


and ballistic missile technology in contravention of

Shigeo Yamada

United Nations Security Council Resolutions. These

Cabinet Councillor, National Security Secretariat,

developments have caused concern because of their


destabilising effects, globally as well as in the region.

Jean-Christophe Belliard

Shigeo Yamada from Japan and Jean-Christophe

Deputy Secretary-General, Political Affairs; Political

Belliard from the European Union (EU) also highlighted

Director, European External Action Service

additional fears related to North Korea’s possession of

Major-General (Retd) Yao Yunzhu

chemical and biological weapons, its continued use of

Director Emeritus, Center on China-America Defense

cyber attacks and its persistent human-rights abuses.

Relations, Academy of Military Science, People’s

All four speakers agreed on the need for dialogue.

Liberation Army, China

Engagement with Kim Jong-un’s regime was almost

Major-General (Retd) Ha Jungyul

universally viewed as the only viable option for reduc-

Vice Chairman, Policy Committee, Democratic

ing tensions; however, there was debate as to whether

Party of Korea (DPK); Head of National Defence and

now was the right time for useful engagement. The EU

Security, The Institute for Democracy, DPK

was willing to provide diplomatic assistance should conditions improve, rekindling its crucial function in the negotiation of the Iran nuclear deal.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Shigeo Yamada, Cabinet Councillor, National Security Secretariat, Japan

Jean-Christophe Belliard, Deputy SecretaryGeneral, Political Affairs; Political Director, European External Action Service

Major-General (Retd) Ha Jungyul, Vice Chairman, Policy Committee, Democratic Party of Korea (DPK); Head of National Defence and Security, The Institute for Democracy, DPK

Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, IISS-Americas

Major-General (Retd) Yao Yunzhu, Director Emeritus, Center on China-America Defense Relations, Academy of Military Science, People’s Liberation Army, China

Major-General (Retd) Yao Yunzhu emphasised

amid continued testing of ballistic missiles the only

the importance of Beijing’s role and its desire to re-

viable option at the moment was to increase pressure,

establish dialogue through the framework of the Six

primarily via sanctions.

Party Talks. She emphasised Chinese efforts to seek

There was also detailed discussion of missile

an acceptable first step, such as the proposed freeze

defence technologies, and particularly the United

of North Korean missile tests in exchange for a sus-

States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

pension of the annual US–Republic of Korea military

system and China’s aversion to its deployment in

exercises. Major-General (Retd) Ha Jungyul from the

South Korea. China is concerned about the surveil-

Republic of Korea also agreed that restarting the Six

lance capability offered by THAAD’s radar links to US

Party Talks should be a key objective, but the volatil-

systems deployed elsewhere in the region, which, it

ity of the situation made this difficult. The basis upon

believes, will impact Sino-American strategic stability.

which negotiations could begin, however, was not

The session also heard debate over the credibility of US

identified. Furthermore, there was recognition that

extended deterrence and regional security guarantees.

Special session 1



New patterns of security cooperation

Click for transcript and audio


The session provided a wide-ranging overview of

Dr Tim Huxley

existing structures and developing trends in security

Executive Director, IISS-Asia

cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. It also addressed the global, interconnected and complex nature of the cur-


rent security environment, and how this affects the

Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin

opportunities for cooperation.

Chief of the Defence Force, Australia

Speaking from an Australian perspective, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin highlighted the broad range of

U Thaung Tun National Security Advisor, Union Government of

shared security challenges in the Asia-Pacific, many of


them non-traditional. These included environmental

General Denis Mercier

security threats, organised crime, cyber threats and

Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, North

terrorism. Myanmar’s National Security Advisor U

Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Thaung Tun highlighted ‘unprecedented’ changes in

Lieutenant-General He Lei

the regional security environment. He mentioned pop-

Vice President, Academy of Military Science, People’s

ulist movements, the apparently reduced US security

Liberation Army, China

role in the region, and social media and ‘fake news’ as recent challenges to existing structures. There is a proliferation of security forums, he said, with the result that more coordination on both traditional and nontraditional threats has become necessary.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Chief of the Defence Force, Australia

U Thaung Tun, National Security Advisor, Union Government of Myanmar

Lieutenant-General He Lei, Vice President, Academy of Military Science, People’s Liberation Army, China

Dr Tim Huxley, Executive Director, IISS-Asia





General Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation


a lack of coordination among key players. He men-

Commander Transformation, North Atlantic Treaty

tioned Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal for a

Organisation (NATO), noted that hybrid and cyber

‘New Asian Security Concept’ as one possible solution

threats, from both state and non-state actors, were

to these problems.

impacting the security environment just below the

The session discussed whether the region’s exist-

threshold of conflict, further deepening its complex-

ing institutional framework for such cooperation is

ity. Information- and intelligence-sharing are vital,

adequate, or whether new structures are needed. Most

he said, as is interoperability. Lieutenant-General

participants agreed that concentrating on improving

He Lei, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army del-

current mechanisms would be more fruitful than fur-

egation leader, discussed three challenges to regional

ther dissipating energy across new ones. The recently

security and stability: the nuclear issue on the Korean

agreed framework for a code of conduct in the South

Peninsula; the lack of trust between states (and here he

China Sea was also addressed, with some delegates

stated that actions seen as necessary by one country

expressing hope that the framework would pave the

are sometimes interpreted ‘viciously’ by others); and

way for a swift agreement on the code of conduct itself.

Special session 2



Defence implications of emerging technologies

Click for transcript and audio


Discussion in this session focused on the challenges

Dr Bastian Giegerich

and opportunities posed by emerging technologies

Director, Defence and Military Analysis, IISS

for defence establishments and armed forces. An important sub-theme concerned the increasing pace


of change. Artificial intelligence, said Colonel Zhu

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach

Qichao, ‘will reshape defence capability’. Technology

Chief of the Defence Staff, United Kingdom David Koh Tee Hian

was now, according to Air Chief Marshal Peach, ‘evolving faster than the military procurement pro-

Deputy Secretary (Technology); Deputy Secretary

cess’. This not only required platforms to be better

(Special Projects); Defence Cyber Chief, Ministry of

designed, so that they could evolve over time, but it

Defence, Singapore

also required institutions to adapt. One example was

Congressman Mac Thornberry

the fact that the information environment was evolv-

Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, United

ing faster than the legal environment, a point made by

States House of Representatives

Peach but alluded to by all speakers. Another impor-

Colonel Zhu Qichao

tant point concerned defence bureaucracy: the speed

Professor, National University of Defense Technology,

of technological development was challenging tradi-

People’s Liberation Army, China

tional procurement processes. During the discussion, former US defence secretary William Cohen said that decision-making for the acquisition of new technologies in the US was slowing as technological change


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, Chief of the Defence Staff, United Kingdom

David Koh Tee Hian, Deputy Secretary (Technology); Deputy Secretary (Special Projects); Defence Cyber Chief, Ministry of Defence, Singapore

Colonel Zhu Qichao, Professor, National University of Defense Technology, People’s Liberation Army, China

Dr Bastian Giegerich, Director, Defence and Military Analysis, IISS

Congressman Mac Thornberry, Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, United States House of Representatives

accelerated. Congressman Mac Thornberry acknowl-

capabilities were not the only ones capable of causing

edged some of the problems caused by bureaucratic

harm, which placed greater stress on the need for resil-

processes. He said that the US Congress was attempt-

ience. In response to a question from British journalist

ing to strip away some bureaucratic layers and rigidity

Isabel Oakeshott about whether emerging technolo-

and was trying to use new technologies to increase

gies meant fewer military personnel were needed,

flexibility and transparency. Meanwhile, it was noted

David Koh said that technological advances could

that high-technology developments needed to be

benefit Singapore’s armed forces as they grapple with

understandable to policymakers.

a demographic challenge from declining numbers of

Cohen was also concerned about how to acceler-

people available for military service. The US armed

ate the decision-making process to match technical

forces, Congressman Thornberry noted, could oper-

advances, a point made earlier by Peach, noting that

ate with fewer personnel but would need to invest

decision-making was increasingly challenged by the

more in education. Peach, however, cautioned against

introduction of new technologies. Command and con-

pursuing novel effects at increasing cost if this meant

trol was tested by some new platform developments,

fewer capabilities, with the outcome that ‘all the things

such as hypersonics, as well as technologies for man-

that we identify as trends just get more difficult for us

aging big data. At the same time, high-technology

to counter’.

Special session 3



Practical measures to avoid conflict at sea

Click for transcript and audio


Developments in the South China Sea received less

Nick Childs

attention in the Dialogue’s plenary sessions than

Senior Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security,

in previous years. However, this session offered an


important opportunity to discuss mechanisms for managing the difficulties posed for interested gov-


ernments and armed forces by a regional maritime

Senior Lieutenant-General Professor Dr Bui Van Nam

domain that is increasingly congested and contested.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam

Consideration of the tensions that might precipitate

General Kazuaki Sumida

conflict at sea covered not just state-sponsored activi-

Vice Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, Japan Self-Defense

ties, but also non-state based actions including piracy,


illegal fishing and terrorism. The session looked at the

Rear Admiral Donald D Gabrielson

Asia-Pacific theatre in general, but focused particularly

Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific;

on the South China Sea, where interactions apparently

Commander, Task Force 73; Singapore Area

have the clearest potential to generate tensions, due to

Coordinator, United States Navy

the sheer number and diversity of actors involved.

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo

While Senior Lieutenant-General Professor Dr

Director, Security Cooperation Center, Office for

Bui Van Nam from Vietnam highlighted the impor-

International Military Cooperation, National Defense

tance of international law and the usefulness of

Ministry, China

freedom of navigation operations, General Kazuaki Sumida from Japan drew attention to the impor-


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Senior Lieutenant-General Professor Dr Bui Van Nam, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Public Security, Vietnam

General Kazuaki Sumida, Vice Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, Japan Self-Defense Forces

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, Director, Security Cooperation Center, Office for International Military Cooperation, National Defense Ministry, China

Nick Childs, Senior Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security, IISS

Rear Admiral Donald D Gabrielson, Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific; Commander, Task Force 73; Singapore Area Coordinator, United States Navy

tance of improving maritime domain awareness,

Alongside calls for the final conclusion of a code

noting the work his country’s self-defence forces

of conduct in the South China Sea and the rejection of

were doing on this with partners in the region. Rear-

coercion or unilateral action, there was debate over the

Admiral Donald Gabrielson from the US focused on

desirability of extending the application of the Code for

the role of confidence-building measures and their

Unplanned Encounters at Sea to include national coast-

crucial place in the rules-based order, whilst also

guards as well as the underwater domain. One delegate

highlighting their importance in preventing any ‘tac-

raised the challenge of how to manage vessels that were

tical incidents’ from becoming ‘tragically strategic’.

unclearly marked or had crews whose credentials were

Senior Colonel Zhou Bo from China argued against

unclear. An update was also offered on the utility and

exaggerating the threat to freedom of navigation

effectiveness of the US–China military hotline, with

posed by conflicting sovereignty claims at sea, argu-

delegates hoping for a conclusion to ongoing discus-

ing instead that Freedom of Navigation Operations

sions between China and Japan over the establishment

risked inflaming tensions in the region.

of a maritime hotline between the two countries.

Special session 4



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 6 Finding common ground on regional security

FOURTH PLENARY SESSION Sunday 4 June 2017, 09:30 SPEAKERS General (Retd) Ryamizard Ryacudu Minister of Defense, Indonesia Le Luong Minh Secretary-General, Association of Southeast Asian Nations General (Retd) Ricardo A David Jr Under Secretary for Defense Policy, Philippines


Finding common ground on regional security

General (Retd) Ryamizard Ryacudu, Minister of Defense, Indonesia

Click to see video

General (Retd) Ryamizard Ryacudu, Minister of

the establishment of a Trilateral Arrangement on

Defense, Indonesia, began the first address in the ses-

the Sulu Waters between Indonesia, Malaysia and

sion by stressing the importance of the Shangri-La

the Philippines was a good example of what he had

Dialogue as a defence diplomacy forum in which

in mind. Initially the objective of the Arrangement

participating countries can debate and develop solu-

was limited to fighting piracy, but the scope is being

tions for common challenges to peace and stability in

expanded to include the fight against the Islamic State,

the region. The minister pointed to the broad spec-

also known as ISIS or ISIL, in the region. The minis-

trum of security risks and threats countries had to

ter suggested that the trilateral cooperation could be

address, including terrorism and radicalism, sepa-

extended to include other countries, such as Thailand

ratism and armed uprising, natural disasters, border

and Singapore. Maritime domain awareness and coor-

violations, robbery and theft of natural resources, dis-

dinated patrols would furthermore provide good

ease epidemics, the drug trade and abuse of narcotics.

opportunities for capacity-building programs, possi-

He singled out the terrorist threat as having reached

bly involving countries from outside the region.

unprecedented levels in the region, with the Islamic







State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, operating in the

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),

southern Philippines and elsewhere. This, the minister

began by recalling that on 8 August 1967, the founding

said, underlined the global nature of the challenge.

fathers of ASEAN signed the Bangkok Declaration with

Ryamizard called on governments to estab-

the common understanding that economic growth and

lish more specifics and more concrete platforms for

prosperity could not be achieved unless the region

regional security and defence cooperation. He said

was stable and at peace. It had to be acknowledged,


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General, Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Click to see video

Minh suggested, that both traditional and non-tradi-

maritime disputes, including in the South China Sea,

tional security challenges continued to put this vision

were examples of the latter, David explained, and

at risk. North Korea’s nuclear programme, territorial

different interpretations of international law made it

disputes, transnational crime and international terror-

difficult to move forward. The situation on the Korean

ism were particular concerns.

Peninsula was also characterised by diverging views,

ASEAN has endeavoured to set up cooperative

as North Korea insisted it had a right to possess

mechanisms to help address these challenges, Minh

nuclear weapons whereas other countries in the region

said: complex and multifaceted security challenges

felt their security is put at risk as a result.

compelled countries to work together. Cooperating on

David suggested that cooperation among countries

transnational issues in a collaborative fashion required

should be pursued based on international law, respect

countries to adjust their perspectives. ASEAN-led

for the sovereignty of other states, sustained dialogue

security mechanisms, said the Secretary-General,

and coordination. For this approach to work, govern-

progressed beyond table-top discussions to practical

ments would need to recognise, he argued, that the

activities. For example, the 18 countries involved in the

need for cooperation outweighs competition among

ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meetings-Plus (ADMM-

regional powers. The Under Secretary insisted that

Plus) conduct live exercises on counter-terrorism,

the Philippines see its alliance with the United States

maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and

(US) as a cornerstone of its defence policy. At the same

disaster relief. Minh closed by highlighting competi-

time, he pointed out, the Philippines had recently been

tion between major powers in the region as a growing

able to improve its defence relations with China, and

concern for regional peace and stability.

had also begun working with Russia. The Philippines








Philippines’ Under Secretary for Defense Policy,

was ready to build on existing partnerships as well as explore new ones.

agreed that transnational security challenges were in some cases indeed strong drivers for cooperation. However, he suggested that there were also issues on


which governments in the region had fundamentally

The three statements triggered a lively question-

different views. Piracy, disasters, transnational crime,

and-answer session. Aiko Doden from NHK Japan

cyber security, and terrorism and violent extremism

Broadcasting Cooperation asked whether the panellists

were examples of the former, he said. Territorial and

had thought about ‘soft’ human security challenges

Fourth plenary session


General (Retd) Ricardo A David Jr, Under Secretary for Defense Policy, The Philippines

Click to see video

that might evolve into hard security issues and whether

tion on reported clashes between Vietnamese and

there were disparities of views in the region on such

Indonesian patrol boats around the Natuna Islands.

matters. Ben Bland, South China Correspondent for

Sylvia Yazid from Parahyangan Catholic University,

the Financial Times, asked how concerned the pan-

Indonesia, expressed hope that Indonesia would be

ellists were about radicalism in Indonesia. Lin Liu

a strategic partner for other countries battling inter-

of China’s Academy of Military Science, People’s

national terrorism. Sylvie Kauffmann, Editorial

Liberation Army asked what could be done to enhance

Director, Le Monde, asked whether the panellists could

cooperation between ASEAN and China and whether

speak about the level of coordination among differ-

the Philippines would invite China to join maritime

ent extremist groups and whether there were signs of

patrols of the Sulu Sea. Prashanth Parameswaran from

coordination in the region with foreign fighters from

the Diplomat enquired whether David could expand

the Middle East and Europe.

on the additional opportunities that the Philippines

David responded by explaining that there were

sees for defence cooperation with partners other than

currently no plans for inviting other countries to join

the US. David Shambaugh, Director, China Policy

maritime patrols in the Sulu Sea. He also stressed that

Program, George Washington University, wanted

the Philippines’ defence cooperation efforts were not

to know whether negotiations on the framework

designed to form military blocs. On the threat from

agreement for a code of conduct in the South China

terrorism and violent extremism in the southern

Sea included discussion of caps on military deploy-

Philippines, David suggested that citizens not only

ments and military installations on features there, and

Malaysia and Indonesia, but also of Saudi Arabia,

whether such caps could perhaps be seen as confi-

were among recent perpetrators. These foreign

dence-building measures in what otherwise looks like

fighters were operating alongside locals. Economic,

an increasingly militarised environment. Ekaterina

social and political solutions would be necessary to

Koldunova, Deputy Dean, School of Political Affairs,

remove some of the drivers of violent extremism.

Moscow State Institute of International Relations,

Minh stressed that it was important to evaluate and

asked whether the panel saw any prospects for

monitor the implementation of new measures being

ASEAN–Russia cooperation on counter-terrorism. Jin

taken under ASEAN’s lead – it was important to

Kiat Khoo, Senior Reporter, Defence and Diplomatic

know whether the intended outcomes were being

Affairs, the China Press, Malaysia, asked the Indonesian

achieved. The ‘framework agreement’ for a code of

minister whether he could provide further informa-

conduct in the South China Sea was currently only


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Aiko Doden, NHK Japan Broadcasting Cooperation

Ben Bland, South China Correspondent, the Financial Times

Lin Liu, Academy of Military Science, People’s Liberation Army, China

a draft that needed to be endorsed by ministers, but

minister stressed that the starting point had to be

Minh hoped that it could be the nucleus for a rules-

better cooperation over intelligence. He cited work-

based approach to the issue. Ryamizard stressed that

ing with Singapore to ascertain the passport details

the number of security challenges in the region that

and addresses of extremists as an important element

demanded cooperation was rising and that secur-

in recent efforts to uncover extremist structures and

ing the region was what cooperation in an ASEAN

networks. Governments had to formulate a com-

framework was meant to achieve. However, ASEAN

prehensive response and should work together to

was not a military bloc, he said. Regarding extrem-

develop a shared understanding of how best to coun-

ism and international terrorism, the Indonesian

ter the extremist threat, he said.

Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat

David Shambaugh, Director, China Policy Program, George Washington University

Ekaterina Koldunova, Deputy Dean, School of Political Affairs, Moscow State Institute of International Relations

Fourth plenary session


Jin Kiat Khoo, Senior Reporter, Defence and Diplomatic Affairs, The China Press, Malaysia


Sylvia Yazid, Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Sylvie Kauffmann, Editorial Director, Le Monde


CHAPTER 7 Global threats and regional security

FIFTH PLENARY SESSION Sunday 4 June 2017, 11:30 SPEAKERS Mark Mitchell Minister of Defence, New Zealand Lieutenant-General Alexander Vasilyevich Fomin Deputy Minister of Defence, Russia Dr Ng Eng Hen Minister for Defence, Singapore


Global threats and regional security

Mark Mitchell, Minister of Defence, New Zealand

Click to see video

The final plenary session provided an opportunity

ports freedom of navigation and the United Nations

to connect the threads of previous discussions, and

Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). More

opened with a presentation by New Zealand’s Defence

particularly, as over half of its trade transits the South

Minister, Mark Mitchell. He started by suggesting that

China Sea, New Zealand backs the Association of

multinational efforts optimised responses to global

Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Code of Conduct

threats. He then observed that localised conventional

there. Beyond these formal positions, New Zealand

challenges were no longer the norm, given the rising

had been an active player for 14 years in the Regional

salience of North Korea’s nuclear and missile activity,

Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI)

transnational violent extremism and digital intercon-

under the auspices of the Biketawa Declaration. It

nectedness. Cyber capabilities have made links among

also, with Australia, established the Building Partner

attackers and targets potentially instantaneous, so that

Capacity training mission in Iraq as part of the US-led

even relatively remote countries like New Zealand

Operation Inherent Resolve. Wellington favours con-

are susceptible to attack. Accordingly, New Zealand

structive discussion followed by ‘real action’. It rejects

strongly supports the standing rules-based order and

the view that threats have overwhelmed opportuni-

international norms, as reflected in its co-drafting of

ties and takes an optimistic view of regional affairs,

the widely supported United Nations Security Council

Mitchell said.

Resolution 2286 on the protection of citizens.




As a maritime state – it has the world’s fourth-

Fomin, Russia’s deputy defence minister, said that the

largest Exclusive Economic Zone and 95% of its goods

world was becoming more complicated and harder to

are transported by sea – New Zealand strongly sup-

predict. He also noted that trust and compromise were


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Lieutenant-General Alexander Vasilyevich Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defence, Russia

Click to see video

more difficult to forge, and that conflict, transborder

deployment has only ‘aggravated’ existing problems

crime and proliferation were jeopardising sustainable

on the Korean Peninsula, Fomin said.

development. Pointedly, he added that disregard for

More broadly, Fomin said, the nature of threats has

national traditions and ideologies through interven-

changed rapidly since the end of the Cold War, and

tion was also destabilising. Russia has supported the

this change has challenged the capacity of regional

Assad regime to check the Islamic State, also known

organisations to deal with instability. But balance is

as ISIS or ISIL, which gained strength due to power

still required. While any regional security architecture

vacuums. Following the ‘liberation’ of Aleppo, Russia

must embrace the concept of indivisible security, it

is now providing humanitarian assistance and help in

must also recognise the principle of non-interference

demining and other explosive ordnance disposal. It is

in internal affairs, as ASEAN does. Russia is following

also providing medical assistance, as well as enforcing

the Uniform Code of Conduct in the Asia-Pacific, and

local ceasefires, arranging for humanitarian access and

may provide demining help in Cambodia, based on

facilitating refugees’ voluntary return.

its experience. Russia stresses naval cooperation, and

In Fomin’s view, transnational terrorism remains

the Russian Navy is active in the region, making port

a dangerous threat in the Asia-Pacific, especially

call in many Asia-Pacific countries. Overall, Moscow

because of the threat from indigenous combatants

wants the Asia-Pacific to be a balanced, stable and safe

returning from Middle East conflict zones, as well

region, and considers this a feasible objective and is

as from pre-existing terrorist organisations and

open to working with regional and major powers to

infrastructure. Russia supports the expansion and

achieve it.

consolidation of regional counter-terrorism efforts

The final speaker was Dr Ng Eng Hen, Singapore’s

through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation,

defence minister. Ng asserted Singapore’s commit-



ment to dialogue and the rules-based order, which he

(ADMM-Plus) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)

regarded as conducive to security and prosperity and

counter-terrorism centres. Another major threat is

to the advancement of states of any size. More soberly,

North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile pro-

he noted that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had

grammes. The tensions they have produced needs to

been the first casualty of a Trump administration

be channelled into a negotiation framework. Russia

determined to rethink the rules-based order. TPP 11,

considers that the United States’ Terminal High

which covers countries representing 13% of global

Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence

GDP, was a good alternative, though to an extent over-




Fifth plenary session


Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence, Singapore

Click to see video

shadowed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

maritime exercise to deepen cooperation, and is pro-

initiative, which Singapore – as a strategic node on the

posing that ADMM-Plus meet annually rather than

‘Maritime Silk Road’ – supports. If BRI were achieved,

just biennially.

it would send Asia on a favourable trajectory. Ng elaborated that Singapore’s future was linked inextricably to global trade, as its trade volume is three-and-a-


half times its GDP. He held, echoing Lee Kuan Yew,

The three ministerial presentations stimulated a

that open and free trade prevents major conflict by

range of probing questions. Argentinian Secretary

enabling a multiplicity of nations to prosper. To this

for Foreign Affairs Pedro Villagra Delgado asked

end, ASEAN overall needs to elevate its GDP; TPP 11,

for further comments on the link between trade and

BRI and a possible trade pact between ASEAN and the

security. Christopher Nelson, Fellow for US–Asia

European Union may help.

Relations at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, asked

The minister added that North Korean nuclear

whether TPP 11 had a reasonable chance of success

and missile activity and transnational terrorism could

if the Trump administration remained hostile to it.

profoundly imperil regional stability. Singapore

Nelson raised for discussion the possibility of a dual

favours diplomacy with respect to North Korea. The

freeze dispensation between North Korea and its

terrorism threat is likely to increase as fighters return


to the region from the Middle East. To mitigate this

Senior Fellow William Choong as well as Nelson

problem, intelligence cooperation and information-

– wondered why Russia was so worried about

sharing are vital, and Singapore has made advances in

THAAD. Choong also asked whether Russia’s east-

these areas by providing assistance via its Information

ward turn was in effect a pivot to China. Colonel Zhu

Fusion Centre to the Sulu Sea patrols by initiating

Qichao of China’s National University of Defence

plans (on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue)

Technology elicited views on how Russia might con-

to share terrorist threat information through the Five

tribute to Northeast Asia’s strategic stability and to

Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), and by par-

international cyber security. Malaysian Member of

ticipating in Malacca Straits Patrol and ADMM-Plus

Parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar queried whether the

maritime security and counter-terrorism exercises.

Astana process could lead to peace in Syria. Richard

Singapore is also promoting an ASEAN–China

Lloyd Parry, Asia editor of The Times, inquired


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Several participants – including IISS

Pedro Villagra Delgado, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Argentina

Christopher Nelson, Fellow for US–Asia Relations at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Dr William Choong, Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow, IISS–Asia

whether the FPDA might expand its remit or mem-

priorities. He declined to take sides on South China

bership, while Chilean Under Secretary of Defence

Sea issues, pushing a negotiated code of conduct.

Marcos Robledo Hoecker asked about the prospects

Ng, on his part, stressed the relationship between the

for his country to join the ARF.

recognition of norms and legitimacy, and stated that

In his response, Mitchell said he would welcome

this consideration constrained the expansion of the

American re-engagement on TPP 11 and applauded

FPDA’s remit. But he also noted that the ADMM-Plus

the FPDA’s new focus on counter-terrorism and

framework was more pragmatic and flexible, and that

maritime security. Fomin indicated that Russia con-

its joint exercises could conceivably be enlarged to

sidered THAAD useful for launching offensive as well

include additional nations or regional groups within

as defensive missiles, underlined Russia’s view that

practical limits. In conclusion, Singapore’s defence

non-military, economic inducements should be used

minister suggested that Japan and Australia, among

to draw North Korea into peaceful negotiations, and

other countries, had invested substantial political capi-

suggested that Russia’s support for the Assad regime

tal in the original TPP, which fuelled some optimism

turned on counter-terrorism and regional stability

about TPP 11.

Colonel Zhu Qichao, National University of Defence Technology, China

Nurul Izzah Anwar, Malaysian Member of Parliament

Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia editor of The Times

Marcos Robledo Hoecker, Under Secretary of Defence, Chile

Fifth plenary session



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 8 The Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme

The Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme Dr William Choong, Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security, IISS–Asia; Dr Tim Huxley, Executive Director, IISS–Asia and Alexander Neill, Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for AsiaPacific Security, IISS with the young leaders

Click to see photos

The Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme

Singapore, the British High Commission in Singapore

(SEAYLP) at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue built and

and two corporate sponsors: OUE Limited and Giti.

expanded on the success of an inaugural event organ-

SEAYLP delegates made their presence felt at the

ised in conjunction with the previous year’s Dialogue,

Shangri-La Dialogue through critical and insightful

convening 36 enthusiastic young leaders, almost half of

interventions during question-and-answer sessions

them female, from ten Southeast Asian and four other

over the course of the summit. Following Prime

countries. Reflecting the diversity of the region, these

Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s keynote address, Dr Lynn

delegates represented key sectors with security inter-

Kuok, Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the National

ests, including government departments and agencies,

University of Singapore’s Centre for International Law

the armed forces, business, research institutes, univer-

questioned Turnbull on the substance of Australia’s

sities and the media. SEAYLP delegates participated

commitment to promoting and maintaining the rule

in an additional series of meetings as well as the full

of law. Nur Asyura Salleh, a Bruneian postgraduate

Shangri-La Dialogue programme. The special SEAYLP

student at the S. Rajaratnam School of International

element of the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue included four

Studies at Nanyang Technological University, asked

dedicated sessions, a reception aboard a warship and

defence ministers during the Second Plenary Session

a seminar the day after the summit. The 2017 SEAYLP

whether their respective countries were willing to

benefited from the generous support of Singapore’s

fill the leadership vacuum left by American with-

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Department

drawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Canadian High

and Paris agreement on climate change. In the final

Commission in Singapore, the Embassy of Japan in

Plenary Session of the Dialogue, Nurul Izzah Anwar,


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia with the Young Leaders

a Malaysian Member of Parliament, asked Russia’s

the SEAYLP delegates focused on Australia’s commit-

Deputy Minister of Defence whether Russia was com-

ment to the rules-based order and the contribution of

mitted to a lasting resolution to the Syrian conflict.

other regional states to maintaining such an order, as well as on specific concerns including freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.


On Sunday morning, the Young Leaders par-

A hallmark of the 2017 SEAYLP cohort was their active

ticipated in two closed-door discussions: a breakfast

engagement in online discussions throughout the

meeting with Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Second

Shangri-La Dialogue and their use of social media –

Minister for Defence, and a meeting with Commander

notably Twitter – for debates amongst themselves and

of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), Admiral

with other Shangri-La Dialogue delegates. For exam-

Harry Harris, Jr. Ong engaged in a lively debate on

ple, Gullnaz Baig, a Singaporean SEAYLP delegate

a wide range of issues including Singapore’s vision

acted as coordinator for the programme and pursued

for its ASEAN chairmanship in 2018 and ASEAN’s

an online discussion with Malaysia’s defence minis-

ability to maintain unity of vision against the back-

ter on the need for stronger regional coordination in

drop of regional tensions. The discussion addressed

counter-terrorism messaging.

the management of the South China Sea dispute, and the regional security implications of disruptive technologies. Ong’s overall prognosis for the region was


optimistic, though, and he noted that Southeast Asia

The first special event on the 2017 SEAYLP agenda

had a history of embracing differences and diversity,

was an exclusive discussion session with Australian

and was able to draw upon strong leadership, and

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held early on the

possessed a younger generation intent on ensuring

Dialogue’s Saturday morning. Announcing that the

that the region does well. Admiral Harris, who – as

Australian government would contribute sponsorship

in 2016 – spoke only from a SEAYLP platform during

to the programme for three years, Turnbull affirmed

the Shangri-La Dialogue, described his own session

Australia’s belief that SEAYLP was ‘integral to form-

as his most gratifying experience of the Shangri-La

ing the foundations of future security’. The meeting,

Dialogue. After opening comments in which he gave

which allowed SEAYLP delegates to engage in a

useful advice on managing the challenges of a career

candid discussion at close quarters with the Prime

as a leader, the PACOM Commander responded to a

Minister, set the tone for the SEALYP agenda. The

range of questions, some of which touched on regional

exchange between the Australian Prime Minister and

security issues of the day.

The Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme


Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Second Minister for Defence with Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme delegates

A highlight of the second day was a reception for

than previously, and that ASEAN had a role to play

SEAYLP delegates aboard the visiting Royal Canadian

in managing this uncertain environment. Boutilier

Navy frigate HMCS Winnipeg at Changi Naval Base.

invited Young Leaders to eschew ‘historical amnesia’,

The SEAYLP delegation was given a private tour of the

and emphasised the importance of a facts-based and

vessel including a visit to the ship’s bridge and heli-

principled approach towards negotiating strategic

copter hangar. The reception was hosted by Canadian

challenges. Dr Maliki and Ambassador Duke reflected

Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance, who

on ASEAN’s varying degrees of success over the previ-

reiterated Canada’s commitment to contribute to secu-

ous 50 years and the potential it held for tackling new

rity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. In her speech at

security challenges. The panellists broadly agreed that

the event, Canadian High Commissioner to Singapore

the international system appeared to have reached a

Lynn McDonald highlighted the importance of the

turning-point and that the next generation of ASEAN

Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme in both

leaders would need to be even more creative than their

building a new generation of peacebuilders and pro-

predecessors in managing strategic and security chal-

moting a network of future leaders of the region.

lenges. In the discussion, SEAYLP delegate Stephanie Martel from the University of British Columbia questioned how ASEAN could preserve its unity despite


the tendency of its member governments to favour

At the SEAYLP luncheon on Sunday, Young Leaders

wider multilateralism and narrower minilateralism

had the opportunity to discuss ASEAN’s role in, and

in responding to challenges. Dr Vannarith Chheang

relevance to, global strategic developments. A panel

from the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and

of speakers, chaired by Dr Tim Huxley, Executive

Peace noted the lack of attention given to the involve-

Director of IISS-Asia, comprised: Singapore’s Senior

ment of major powers in the Mekong region, a contrast

Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Dr

to the focus on the South China Sea. Dr Hoo Chiew

Mohamad Maliki bin Osman; Australian Ambassador

Ping from the National University of Malaysia asked

to ASEAN, Jane Duke; and Special Advisor to

why Southeast Asian governments had failed to focus

Canada’s Department of National Defense, Dr James

on the North Korean challenge, despite international

A Boutilier. The panellists agreed that the current

sanctions against the regime there in response to its

international system harboured greater uncertainty

nuclear-weapons and missile programmes.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Jane Duke, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN and Dr James A Boutilier, Special Advisor to Canada’s Department of National Defence at the SEAYLP luncheon


the potential middle-power coalition suggested by

The Monday of the Young Leaders’ programme

Evans. Kyaw Khant from Myanmar’s Diem Company

featured a seminar discussing ‘Challenges and

suggested that her country’s enthusiasm for the BRI

Prospects for the Future: Negotiating the Asia

was borne of its severe infrastructural deficit, and

Pacific Security Landscape’. Dr Tim Huxley chaired

asked what security challenges this might engender.

a panel comprising: Professor Paul Evans from the

Taylor observed that that the region was sliding into

University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian

crisis but there was a chronic lack of imagination in

Research; Professor Tosh Minohara from Japan’s

conflict resolution. Blake Herzinger of Booze Allen

Kobe University; John Virgoe, Head of the British

Hamilton invited Taylor to consider the implications

Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Southeast

of the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels in

Asia Department; and Dr Brendan Taylor from

Southeast Asian waters. Sharon Awang Sitai from

the Australian National University. The panellists

Brunei’s government raised the question of shortfalls

focused in their opening remarks on the management

in tackling interconnected security crises within the

of the future security landscape, with much atten-

current rules-based order.

tion in the subsequent debate directed towards the

Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellows Alexander

difficult and important question of how to define a

Neill and Dr William Choong jointly chaired the

rules-based international order. Evans suggested that

programme’s final session, during which a number of

the Young Leaders consider a ‘coalition of middle

SEAYLP delegates expressed strong interest in main-

powers’ as the region’s best asset in maintaining a

taining the momentum of their discussions. There was

rules-based order, while Colonel Gaurav Keerthi

broad agreement among the delegates that maintain-

from the Singapore Armed Forces invited panellists

ing a stable and predictably peaceful security order

to consider what a Chinese-led rules-based order

in the Asia-Pacific would depend on strengthening

might involve. Minohara drew parallels between

the region’s relevant institutions. The challenges for

the pre-Second World War and current international

the emerging generation of Southeast Asian security

orders, suggesting that engagement with China and

policymakers would be substantial. Finally, there was

greater certainty from the United States was needed

consensus that the integration into SEAYLP of dele-

to mediate the insecure environment. Jonathan

gates from non-Southeast Asian countries – hopefully,

Miller from the Council on Foreign Relations ques-

including China in the future – not only represented

tioned Minohara on Japan’s view of the TPP, China’s

the real-world reality of Southeast Asia’s security

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Japan’s regional

policymaking environment, as reflected in frame-

leadership role. Virgoe invited delegates to consider

works such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asian

the nexus between security and economic interde-

Summit and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meetings-

pendence in the context of the BRI. Gullnaz Baig

Plus (ADMM-Plus), but also importantly augmented

asked what role the United Kingdom might have in

the substance of SEAYLP debates.

The Southeast Asian Young Leaders’ Programme



The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 9 Social media


Nuclear dangers in the Asia-Pacific

Click to see photos


New patterns of

Click to see photos

security cooperation


Defence implications of

Click to see photos

emerging technologies


Practical measures to avoid conflict at sea


The Shangri-La Dialogue

Click to see photos



TWITTER #SLD17 Follow the conversation from the 2017 conference



IISS experts comment on and discuss the themes from the Shangri-La Dialogue

IISS experts comment on a wide range of global defence and security issues




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An in-depth summary of every Shangri-La Dialogue from 2006

Content from every Shangri-La Dialogue since 2004


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The Shangri-La Dialogue


CHAPTER 10 Istana Reception and Dinner


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The Shangri-La Dialogue

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue



I. Selected press coverage of the 2017 IISS Shangri-La Dialogue II. Selected IISS publications


Selected press coverage of the 2017 IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Asahi Shimbun 2 June 2017

Australian PM urges China to stop ‘reckless’ N. Korea Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Friday it is in China’s best interests to curb the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, with which it shares a border. By doing so, China will bring peace to the region and gain the trust of its neighbors after tensions over its territorial disputes in the South China Sea, he said at a security conference in Singapore. China will “best succeed by respecting the sovereignty of others and in so doing, build a reservoir of trust and cooperation with its neighbors,” Turnbull said. “And it has no better or more urgent opportunity to build that trust than to use its great leverage and the responsibility with which it comes to curb the unlawful, reckless and dangerous conduct of North Korea.” China is North Korea’s closest ally. Beijing has pitted itself against its smaller neighbors in claiming disputed islands, coral reefs and lagoons in the South China Sea. If the tensions persist, countries will decide to distance themselves from China and “look to counterweight Beijing’s power by bolstering alliances and partnerships between themselves, and especially with the United States,” he said. Turnbull was opening the three-day security conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. It is attended by defense ministers and experts from 39 countries, including U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Chinese officials are not scheduled to speak at the conference’s main sessions. Organizers explained that they were keeping a low profile due to reshuffling before October’s Communist Party Congress. Eugene Tan, an associate law professor at the Singapore Management University, said the decision was a “conscious strategy.”


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

“China has been very assertive, at times even aggressive, in the territorial disputes” in recent years, Tan told the AP. “This deliberate (soft) approach this year is not a back down at all. It’s about not putting themselves in the spotlight.” Mattis is to chair a session on the role of the U.S. in Asia-Pacific security on Saturday. He is expected to echo traditional U.S. policy goals, including a strong global order and a peaceful, prosperous and free Asia. The security conference is expected to focus on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and on Islamic extremism, including the fight against the Islamic State group. On Friday, the group claimed one of its supporters carried out an attack on a casino in the Philippines in which 36 people died. The Philippine military has denied it was a terrorist attack. ©Asahi Shimbun Reprinted with permission

Associated Press 2 June 2017

Mattis: North Korea a ‘clear and present danger’ to world SINGAPORE (AP) — North Korea is accelerating its push to acquire a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States and other nations, and the U.S. regards this as a “clear and present danger,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday. Speaking at an international security conference in Singapore, Mattis said the Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to working with the U.S. and others to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons. He also said he thinks China, which is North Korea’s closest ally, ultimately will see it as a liability. China blocked tough new sanctions against North Korea that the United States pushed in the U.N. Security Council on Friday. However, the Security Council did vote unanimously to add 15 individuals and four entities linked

to the North’s nuclear and missile programs to a U.N. sanctions blacklist. In his speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue, sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mattis sought to balance his hopeful comments on China with sharp criticism of what he called Beijing’s disregard for international law by its “indisputable militarization” of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea. “We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo” in the South China Sea, he said. Overall, Mattis’ speech struck a positive, hopeful tone for cooperation and peace in the Asia-Pacific region, where he and his predecessors have made it a priority to nurture and strengthen alliances and partnerships. “While competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable,” he said. “Our two countries can and do cooperate for mutual benefit. We will pledge to work closely with China where we share common cause.” He was, however, unrelentingly critical of North Korea, a politically and economically isolated nation whose leaders have long viewed the United States as a military threat, in part because of periodic U.S. military exercises with South Korea, which the North sees as preparations for attacks aimed at destroying its ruling elite. He called North Korea an “urgent military threat.” In a question-and-answer session with his audience of national security experts from across the globe, Mattis was asked whether the U.S. might attack the North pre-emptively and without warning South Koreans in advance. “We’re working diplomatically, economically, we’re trying to exhaust all possible alternatives to avert this race for a nuclear weapon in violation of ... the United Nations’ restrictions on North Korea’s activities,” he said. “We want to stop this. We consider it urgent,” he added. The U.S. has about 28,500 troops permanently based in South Korea, a defense treaty ally. In his speech, Mattis said the U.S. will stick to its treaty commitments to South Korea. “North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is not new, but the regime has increased the pace and scope of its efforts,” he said, alluding to the North’s series of nuclear device tests in recent years and an accelerated pace of missile tests seemingly aimed at building a missile with enough range to hit the U.S. “While the North Korean regime has a long record of murder of diplomats, of kidnapping, killing of sailors, and criminal activity, its nuclear weapons program is maturing as a threat to all,” Mattis said, adding, “As a matter of national security, the United States regards the threat from North Korea as a clear and present danger.” Mattis noted that last week the Pentagon conducted what it called a successful test of its missile defense system, which is being developed mainly with North Korea in

mind. An interceptor launched from coastal California soared over the Pacific on Tuesday, scoring what officials called a direct hit on a target missile fired from a Pacific test range. It was the first time the system had been tested against a missile of intercontinental range. Mattis used the Shangri-La Dialogue to reiterate his call for international cooperation against violent Islamic extremist groups, such as the Islamic State, sometimes called ISIS, which he said are trying to gain ground in Southeast Asia. In his speech, Mattis made no mention of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement, a move that infuriated allies far and wide. The Pentagon’s position in recent years has been that climate change presents threats to the nation’s security and to global stability. ©Associcated Press Reprinted with permission

The Economist 3 June 2017

James Mattis tries to reassure Asian allies about Donald Trump At the Shangri-La Dialogue, the defence secretary was placed in an unenviable position DONALD TRUMP’S America still stands by allies in Asia and Europe, and “I can give you absolute optimism about this issue,” the Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, told an audience of generals, diplomats and security types at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3rd. His words were stirring, and just what the gathering longed to hear. Perhaps no member of the Trump administration has as much worldwide credibility as Mr Mattis, a former fourstar Marine general with no political background, revered by his peers as a ferocious yet learned “warrior monk”. But deep down the room did not believe him. Mr Mattis is a distinguished man in an unenviable position. His mission here in Singapore is to reassure allies and warn foes that America remains the ultimate guarantor of the rules-based international order that has brought years of nearly uninterrupted peace and prosperity to Asia. But if he does that job too well and insists that America’s global role is unchanged, who will think that he really speaks for President Donald Trump? For all its high-tech staging (to ask a question, members of the audience must scan their ID badges on their microphone) the Shangri-La Dialogue has a distinctly pre-modern feel. It could be a conference in 19th-century Vienna, or perhaps the set of a James Bond film from the Connery era. Vietnamese generals stride past Australian admirals in tropical whites; a giant of a Fijian officer waits

Selected press coverage


near a waif-like Saudi delegate, his gold-edged robe denoting princely rank. The tectonic energies unleashed by a rising China, a wavering West and an anxious Asia rumble beneath every meeting. American defence secretaries are big news at the Shangri-La. Lexington is travelling with Mr Mattis this week on his official military plane, and even an inwardlooking America puts on quite the show. The head of the Pentagon travels the world aboard a doomsday plane, a windowless, radiation-shielded military version of a Boeing 747, filled with the secure communications kit to run a nuclear war from aloft. As soon as the giant plane landed in Singapore and we zipped into the city in a fast motorcade, Mr Mattis was straight into bilateral meetings with prime ministers and ministers of defence, all broadly wanting to ask the same two questions. One, how does Trump’s America see its national security interests in Asia—a question which in June 2017 essentially involves ranking two issues: the urgent threat of North Korea developing a nuclear missile capable of hitting America versus the long-term challenge of a China seemingly intent on becoming a regional hegemon, including by building air bases on contested reefs in the South China Sea? Two, when weighing its interests and values in foreign policy, how much weight does Trump’s America attach to values? Mr Mattis used his formal speech to offer a carefully crafted answer to the first question. The short version of his reply is that America takes North Korea very seriously indeed and wants China to do more to rein in the regime there, but will not trade help in that sphere for concessions in the South China Sea that mock international law and the principle that all countries have equal rights regardless of size. The former general noted sharply that the North Korea regime has a “long record of murder of diplomats, of kidnapping, killing of sailors and criminal activity”. Its attempts to develop nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles are a “clear and present danger,” Mr Mattis added. The Trump administration believes that China will come to see North Korea as a “liability not an asset,” and hopes to see China’s words opposing a nuclear North Korea matched by actions. At the same time, Mr Mattis did not soft-pedal his views on Chinese behaviour in the South China Sea. Accusing China of showing “contempt” for the interests of its neighbours, the defence secretary growled that America opposes “countries militarising artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law. We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo.” Speak to American officials, and they insist that it is a false choice to suppose that Chinese co-operation over North Korea can only be bought with concessions in the South China Sea. To simplify, they suggest that this binary


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

choice must be broadened to take in a wide range of other security interests, such as terrorism or global nuclear non-proliferation. They hint that American resolve in the South China Sea, perhaps involving increased freedom of navigation passages by warships and over-flights by airplanes, may demonstrate that as North Korea’s nuclear programme grows more dangerous, America’s appetite for risk will grow in lockstep. In his public speech on June 3rd, Mr Mattis probably did as good a job as he could of answering that first question about interests. He was limited in what he could do when it came to the second query, about values. There was something almost heartbreaking about the questions posed by the audience to the defence secretary, a lean man with a craggy face, the cropped silver hair of a Marine, and a laconic speaking-style. An Australian delegate noted Mr Trump’s dismissive comments about NATO, and his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a big trade pact, and from the Paris climate accord. Should the region worry that it is seeing the “destruction of the rules-based order”, the Australian asked. A member of the Japanese parliament wondered aloud whether America still shares “common values” with its allies, or just security interests. This being a blog rather than a newspaper article, readers may indulge the author for quoting Mr Mattis’s replies at some length. The defence secretary is not a dissident within the Trump administration. He is a loyal servant of a democratically elected president. But in his defence of the post-war order, he was trying to tell his Asian audience that some principles and instincts are so deeply rooted in the American spirit that they can survive the swings and counter-swings of electoral politics. This, then, is my transcript of Mr Mattis’s unscripted remarks, replying to those questions about the rules-based order. Hear, here, an old-fashioned public servant wrestling with the duty of serving a very different sort of president, but one who won an election promising an “America First” foreign policy. Mr Mattis said: “Obviously, we have a new President in Washington, DC, we’re all aware of that, and there’s going to be fresh approaches taken.” But look at Mr Trump’s first foreign trip to the Middle East, he went on, and the president’s call on Arab allies and international organisations to work together on countering terrorism and bringing stability to the Middle East. Later in his reply, he argued that Mr Trump had visited Brussels to demonstrate that he stands by NATO allies “100%”. He further noted that Mr Trump had sent him to Tokyo and to Seoul on his first foreign trip as defence secretary, to make clear America’s commitment to its allies in Asia. The middle passage of his reply was the interesting part. He said: “I think we have been engaging the world for a long time. Historically, the Americans have been reluctant

to see themselves in that role. We were quite happy keeping between our two oceans, we were happy to stay there, but the 20th century took us out of that. At the same time we recognised, especially the Greatest Generation we called them, coming home from world war two, what a crummy world if we all retreat inside our own borders. How many people deprived of good lives during the Depression, how many tens of millions of people killed in world war two? Like it or not, we are part of the world. That carries through, for all of the frustrations that are felt in America right now with the sense that at times we have carried an inordinate burden. And that is still very deeply rooted in the American psyche, that engagement with the world. To quote a British observer of us from some years ago: bear with us, once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, we Americans will do the right thing.” For all those anxious to see America remain a guarantor of democratic values in Asia, this is a hard moment. For it is the democratic process itself that forces men such as Mr Mattis to twist himself in knots, and to try to convince allies that America stands by certain unvarying principles, even though his commander-in-chief won office by vowing to tear down the status quo. You see, China can murmur to Asian governments now: democracies are unstable and inconstant. Here at the Shangri-La Dialogue, delegates do not hide their relief that America has a principled, clever man as defence secretary. But the Pentagon cannot and should not be the final arbiter of how America balances values and interests in national security and foreign policy. That, ultimately, is the job of the president. And here among the Asian military and security establishment, that thought is not reassuring at all. ©The Economist Reprinted with permission

Defense News 2 June 2017

US Defense Secretary Mattis to deliver ‘punchy’ address at Asia security summit U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has arrived in Asia on the eve of a major regional security summit as Asia-Pacific allies call for the United States to outline its commitment to the region in the face of a myriad security challenges. Mattis will speak June 3 at the morning plenary sessions at this year’s iteration of the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, which will take place June 2-4. The plenary sessions at the event will examine the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific, geopolitical change and defense policy, crisis management in the region, and other topics. There will also be special sessions on nuclear

dangers and emerging technology, with regional and global senior defense officials poised to speak at the event. The dialogue is organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, or IISS, and is currently the largest gathering of defense professionals in the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s event will see more than 500 delegates — representing 32 nations from across the Asia-Pacific and beyond — converge in Singapore to examine the region’s most enduring security challenges. Tim Huxley, executive director of IISS-Asia in Singapore, said he has been told Mattis will deliver a “concise, punchy” speech. Earlier reports indicated the defense secretary will discuss North Korea, pressing for greater regional cooperation to contain the isolated regime’s nuclear and missile program. If this is the case, it will be in contrast to previous years, where the U.S. has tried to focus the spotlight on China’s expansion and assertive behavior in the strategic South China Sea. However, regional allies and partners will be keen for Mattis to outline the Trump administration’s policy in the Asia-Pacific. Huxley and Benjamin Schreer, who heads the Department of Security Studies and Criminology at Australia’s Macquarie University, warned in a recent article for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that failing to do so will fuel “the perception — particularly in Southeast Asia — that the United States is effectively ceding its regional leadership to China,” and this perception “will only become more pervasive and more influential with regard to Asian countries’ policy choices.” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull struck a similar tone in his keynote address at the event, where he expects the Trump administration will “recognize, as its predecessors have, that the United States’ own interests in the Indo-Pacific demand more U.S. engagement, not less,” noting that the “peace and stability of our region has been enabled by consistent U.S. global leadership”.  He also called the United States’ decisions to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Agreement on climate change “disappointing.” But he also urged the audience “not to rush to interpret an intent to engage on different terms as one not to engage at all.” Another issue that will likely come up at the summit will be the Philippines’ ongoing battle with Islamic State group-linked Maute militants in the southern part of the country, where the Army is struggling to take back the central Mindanao town of Marawi, which was overrun following a failed attempt to arrest the group’s leader in the town in late May. ©Defense News Reprinted with permission

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Reuters 2 June 2017

Shangri-La Dialogue: Mattis praises China on North Korea, criticises its ‘contempt’ for other nations in South China Sea Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Saturday that North Korea posed a global threat and praised China’s efforts to influence Pyongyang, while also criticising Beijing over its continued “militarisation” of the South China Sea. The comments by Mattis, during the annual Shangri-La Dialogue forum, show how US President Donald Trump’s administration is looking to balance working with China to restrain North Korea’s advancing missile and nuclear programmes while dealing with Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea. Trump has actively courted support from China’s President Xi Jinping to restrain North Korea, raising concern among Asian allies that Washington might allow China a more free rein elsewhere in the region. Mattis said the danger from North Korea was “clear and present” and that Pyongyang had increased its pace of pursuing nuclear weapons. The United States has struggled to slow North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, which have become a security priority given Pyongyang’s vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland. The Trump administration has been pressing China aggressively to rein in its reclusive neighbour, warning all options are on the table if North Korea persists with its weapons programmes. “The Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community toward denuclearisation,” Mattis said. “Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognise North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset.” The United States would work with countries in the region to put new diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea, he added. The UN Security Council on Friday expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea after its repeated missile tests, adopting the first such resolution agreed by the United States and China since Trump took office. In another sign of increased pressure on North Korea, Japan’s navy and air force began a three-day military exercise with two US aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) on Thursday. Allies around the world have been concerned about the commitment of the United States since Trump took office on January 20 because of his “America First” rhetoric and


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

expectations that he would concentrate on a domestic agenda. Mattis sought to ease concerns for allies in the AsiaPacific, saying the region was a priority and the primary effort was alliance building. He added, however, that countries must “contribute sufficiently to their own security.” Mattis said the United States welcomed China’s economic development, but he anticipated “friction” between the two countries. “While competition between the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, is bound to occur, conflict is not inevitable,” Mattis said. While eager to work with China in dealing with North Korea, Mattis said that the United States did not accept China placing weapons and other military assets on manmade islands in the South China Sea. “The scope and effect of China’s construction activities in the South China Sea differ from those of other countries in several key ways,” Mattis said. “This includes: the nature of its militarisation... China’s disregard for international law ... (and) its contempt for other nations’ interests.” He urged regional nations to seek solutions through mediation. “We are going to have to work together,” Mattis said. “I don’t think there’s room right now to pushing adversarial approaches.” China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Mattis also said “extremist groups” must be defeated not only in Iraq and Syria but also in Southeast Asia and that the United States was working with countries in the region to improve information sharing. The United States was training and advising troops in the south of the Philippines, he added. The United States has a small number of rotational troops in the country. Philippine troops have been battling rebels owing allegiance to Islamic State for more than 10 days in a southern city. ©Reuters Reprinted with permission

Bloomberg 2 June 2017

Australian Leader Warns China Against Trying to Bully Neighbors Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned China against abusing its growing influence in Asia, while attempting to reassure the region’s leaders that the U.S. remained engaged under President Donald Trump.

Turnbull told dozens of defense officials and military leaders at the Shangri-La security forum in Singapore that China shouldn’t bully smaller states into taking its side as its growing might challenges decades of U.S. dominance. The prime minister said China had gained the most from the region’s peace and stability and therefore had the most to lose if it were disrupted. “A coercive China would find its neighbors resenting demands they cede their autonomy and strategic space, and look to counterweight Beijing’s power by bolstering alliances and partnerships, between themselves and especially with the United States,” Turnbull said in a keynote address Friday. He said a secure world was one in which “the big fish respect the little fish and shrimps.” Australia has for decades walked a fine line between preserving economic ties with China, its largest trading partner, and the U.S., its most important ally. The speech -- Turnbull’s most high-profile foreign policy address since becoming prime minister in 2015 -- saw him advocating for smaller Asian countries that might be reluctant to openly criticize China. “This was a very good speech -- very realistic,” Malaysia Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told Bloomberg as delegates filed out of the Shangri-La Hotel. “This needed to be said. Very pragmatic. I told him that after the speech.” The Chinese sent only a low-level delegation to the event, the first time since 2012 the country hadn’t been represented by an officer of at least the rank of a four-star general. Members of the delegation were observed gesticulating and complaining loudly outside the ballroom after the speech. One official member of the delegation expressed surprise at what they saw as Turnbull’s harsh remarks and “sucking up” to the U.S. The official said the remarks were unfair coming so soon after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit in March, during which the two sides announced several trade deals. Turnbull also sought to reassure regional leaders of the U.S.’s commitment to Asia in the “America First” era. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes 11 Pacific Rim nations, and the Paris climate-change accord, had sown doubts among those who had invested in the U.S.-led world order. Watch: Turnbull tells Bloomberg China must rein in North Korea “China believes all countries are equal, the big and small ones, and we adhere to the principle of peaceful coexistence with all the nations by maintaining regional stability,” Lieutenant General He Lei, the head of the Chinese delegation to Shangri-La, told Chinese media after the speech, according to a video of his remarks. While Turnbull called the TPP and Paris decisions “disappointing,” he said nations “should take care not to rush to interpret an intent to engage on different terms as one

not to engage at all.” “The United States’ own interests in the Indo-Pacific demand more U.S. engagement, not less,” he said. Mattis Speech U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis was set to address the Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday, where he is expected to offer reassurance that the U.S. has no intention of giving up its role as a guarantor of regional peace and stability. “We have a good friend and partner in Beijing and a steadfast friend and ally in Washington,” Turnbull said, rejecting the view that Australia had to choose sides. “Our foreign policy is determined in Australia’s national interest and Australia’s alone.” Turnbull’s relationship with Trump got off to a bad start in January, after Trump abruptly ended a phone call with the prime minister that he described as “the worst” among the five world leaders he spoke to that day. They appeared to bury the hatchet last month when they dined aboard the USS Intrepid museum in New York, and Trump said they “would remain friends for a very long time.” Australia is concerned about Beijing’s military build-up in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.  China, whose actions have also worried Southeast Asian nations with competing claims such as Vietnam and the Philippines, has ignored an international arbitration court ruling rejecting its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters. China should not try to take advantage of its growing economic and military might to attempt to marginalize the contribution of other nations in the region “particularly the United States,” Turnbull said. ‘Rules-Based Structure’ “If we are to maintain the dynamism of the region, then we must preserve the rules-based structure that has enabled it thus far,” Turnbull said. “This means cooperation, not unilateral actions to seize or create territory or militarize disputed areas.” Turnbull said one way China could show its good intentions would be to curb North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. “China has gained the most from the peace and harmony in our region, and consequently it has the most to lose if it is threatened.” For some, Turnbull’s criticism of China’s didn’t go far enough. “Very disappointing,” said Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, and a former president of the United Nations Security Council. “He was trying to be diplomatic towards the Chinese, but he should have been more direct.” ©Bloomberg Reprinted with permission

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Sydney Morning Herald 2 June 2017

Malcolm Turnbull reassures US that allies will help, warns China against bullying Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on countries in Asia to buttress United States leadership in the region and warned China that smaller powers will unite against it if it tries to bully neighbours. In a much-anticipated keynote speech to a major security meeting in Singapore on Friday night, Mr Turnbull expressed confidence the US would remain engaged in Asia despite international despondency in the wake of its Paris climate pact withdrawal. But in a clear nod to US concerns that allies and partners need to do more, Mr Turnbull told the Shangri-La Dialogue that the region needed to “find new sources of leadership to help the United States shape our common good”. The Prime Minister said China understandably would play a larger role in the region but warned that if its expression of newfound power meant upsetting the rules and laws that have underpinned stability for decades, China itself would lose out. “China has gained the most from the peace and harmony in our region and it has the most to lose if it is threatened,” Mr Turnbull said. “A coercive China would find its neighbours resenting demands they cede their autonomy and strategic space and look to counterweight Beijing’s power by bolstering alliances and partnerships, between themselves and especially with the United States.” He said it could build up trust by using its leverage to rein in rogue state North Korea. And he issued a clear warning against Beijing’s island-building in the South China Sea, saying the region needed “cooperation, not unilateral actions to seize or create territory or militarise disputed areas”. The high-level meeting is taking place in the shadow of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, a move that - after also pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal - is being widely seen as a major victory for the isolationist voices in his inner circle. This has added to fears the US will back away from its traditional leadership role under Mr Trump’s “America first” philosophy. But Mr Turnbull’s speech appears to be pushing back strongly against the more pessimistic voices, while also signalling to Washington a recognition that it cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of Asian regional stability on its own. This is seen as a key message to avoid vindicat-


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

ing the isolationist voices in Washington. Importantly, US Defence Secretary James Mattis will address the meeting on Saturday with a speech that will be closely watched for indications of the new administration’s Asia policy. Both Mr Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - regarded as traditionalists who want to keep the US engaged in the world - will visit Sydney on Monday for the AUSMIN talks. Mr Turnbull said Australia would not use the US alliance to “abrogate our responsibility for our own destiny”. He also said he was confident that the Trump administration would “recognise that the United States’ own interests in the Indo-Pacific demand more US engagement, not less”. He also urged the region to “reject the de-globalisation impulse” - an apparent reference to US trade protectionist sentiments - and commit to economic integration. ©Sydney Morning Herald Reprinted with permission

Channel News Asia 2 June 2017

Singapore, China reaffirm ‘warm and friendly’ defence ties SINGAPORE: Singapore and China have reaffirmed their “warm and friendly” bilateral defence relationship, during a meeting between Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Vice President of the Chinese army’s Academy of Military Sciences Lieutenant-General He Lei. They met on Friday (Jun 2) on the sidelines of the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue. During the meeting, Dr Ng and Mr He noted that the bilateral defence relationship has “steadily progressed” over the years, said Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) in a news release.  They re-emphasised the value of the Four-Point Consensus agreed in 2014 between Dr Ng and Chinese Minister of National Defence General Chang Wanquan, and agreed to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation. Both countries also acknowledged the importance of China’s role in the Asia Pacific region and in the regional security architecture, said MINDEF. ©Channel News Asia Reprinted with permission

Die Zeit 7 June 2017

Abschied von Asien? Unter Chinas Nachbarn wächst der Zweifel: Ist auf die USA unter Trump noch Verlass? Oder ziehen sie sich zurück und überlassen die Region dem Hegemonieanspruch Pekings? Kein Amerikaner, wo immer auf der Welt er sich befindet, kann in diesen Tagen seinem Präsidenten entkommen. Überall schüttelt man den Kopf über Donald Trump. So auch in Singapur. Trumps wirre Politik war beherrschendes Thema beim diesjährigen Shangri-La-Dialog, der wichtigsten sicherheitspolitischen Konferenz im asiatisch-pazifischen Raum. Drei Tage lang stand über allen Diskussionen des vom Londoner International Institute for Strategic Studies organisierten Forums eine Frage: Ist auf die Vereinigten Staaten noch Verlass? Jim Mattis versuchte es mit Humor. Trumps Verteidigungsminister wird in Washington zu den “Erwachsenen” gezählt, die eine Art Kordon der Vernunft um den Präsidenten zu legen versuchen. Vor über Tausend Zuhörern antwortete er in Singapur auf die süffisante Frage eines Australiers nach der Zukunft der regelbasierten internationalen Ordnung seufzend: “Es ist offenkundig, dass wir einen neuen Präsidenten in Washington D.C. haben. Das ist uns allen klar. Es wird frische Herangehensweisen geben.” Da lachte das Auditorium vergnügt. Zuvor hatte Mattis versichert, die USA würden sich nicht aus der Region verabschieden. “Was für eine trostlose Welt wäre es, wenn wir uns alle hinter die eigenen Grenzen zurückzögen. Wir werden hier bleiben. Wir werden bei Ihnen bleiben.” Und weil Winston Churchill immer geht, zitierte Mattis den britischen Kriegspremier: “Habt Geduld mit uns. Wenn wir alle möglichen Alternativen erschöpft haben, werden die Amerikaner das Richtige tun.” Sein Auftritt sollte eine einzige vertrauensbildende Maßnahme sein. Vergeblich. “Wir vertrauen auf Gott”, fasste ein Zuhörer seine Eindrücke zusammen. “Wir vertrauen auf Jim Mattis. Aber können wir auch den Entscheidungen dieser US-Regierung trauen?” Wieder lachte der Saal. Der Himmel stürzt ein! Man litt förmlich mit, als sich eine achtköpfige Delegation des Repräsentantenhauses der Presse stellte. Ihre Reise, beteuerten die Abgeordneten, sei doch Beweis genug, dass Amerika der Region verpflichtet bleibe. Auch hier bohrende Fragen. Bis es Mac Thornberry, dem Vorsitzenden des Streitkräfteausschusses und Leiter der Delegation, zu viel wurde. Es sei “unangemessen”, immer nur zu sagen: Der Himmel stürzt ein! Der Himmel stürzt ein! Das Minenspiel der Acht aber spiegelte das ganze Elend von Menschen, die nicht aussprechen dürfen, was sie wirklich denken.

Krach in der Nato, Absage an den Freihandel, Schluss mit dem Klimaschutz: Die USA sind drauf und dran, ihre politische Führungsrolle zu verspielen. Wollen sie überhaupt noch eine globale Ordnungsmacht sein? Oder möchten sie diese Verantwortung gleich den Chinesen überlassen? Die Regierung in Peking hatte, anders als in früheren Jahren, keine besonders hochrangige Delegation nach Singapur entsandt. Aber die Generäle und Obersten der Volksbefreiungsarmee in ihren scharf gebügelten grünen Uniformen traten überaus selbstbewusst auf und meldeten sich kundig und kritisch zu Wort – übrigens in glänzendem Englisch. Kishore Mahbubani, Politikwissenschaftler an der Nationaluniversität von Singapur, der in seinen Büchern und Zeitungsartikeln schon seit vielen Jahren den Abstieg des Westens verkündet, glaubt nicht, dass die USA sich aus Asien zurückziehen werden. “Jedenfalls jetzt noch nicht”, sagte er am Rande des Shangri-La-Dialogs lächelnd. “Der langfristige Trend jedoch ist ganz klar: Amerikas Einfluss nimmt ab, Chinas Einfluss nimmt zu.” ©Die Zeit Reprinted with permission

El Pais 3 June 2017

EE UU advierte a Pekín por sus maniobras en el mar de China meridional El secretario de Defensa, James Mattis, presiona a China y reitera el compromiso de Washington con la región ante el temor de que Trump reviente la política hacia Asia de Obama. Presión a China y continuidad de la presencia de Estados Unidos en Asia-Pacífico. Este será el eje de la política de Defensa que mantendrá Washington en la región con mayor crecimiento económico del mundo. O así lo ha expuesto el jefe del Pentágono, James Mattis, para tranquilizar a los aliados en la zona, temerosos de que Donald Trump revierta el llamado giro hacia Asia de su predecesor, Barack Obama. Pero dado el comportamiento de esta Administración en sus primeros cinco meses, y la facilidad con que ha renegado de otros compromisos internacionales, las palabras del militar en el Diálogo Shangri-La en Singapur -el principal foro anual de seguridad en Asia- han sonado, sobre todo, huecas. Frente a más de veinte delegados ministeriales y una docena de jefes de las Fuerzas de Defensa de más de 50 países, el secretario de Defensa arrojó por primera vez algo de luz sobre la postura de EE UU. hacia Asia-Pacífico. La primera economía mundial, advirtió, continuará “fortal-

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eciendo sus capacidades militares en la región, de forma que la diplomacia pueda actuar desde una posición de fortaleza”. Un mensaje esperado por sus socios, entre ellos Corea del Sur, Japón, Australia, Filipinas o el propio anfitrión, Singapur, que insufla algo de oxígeno a una región sofocada por la amenaza norcoreana, la expansión de China en el mar de China Meridional y el aparente incremento del terrorismo yihadista en la zona. Cinco días después de que Corea del Norte efectuara otra prueba de misil balístico, Mattis reiteró que la “era de la paciencia” con el régimen de Kim Jong-un “ha acabado”. Aseguró, no obstante, que EE UU. aboga por “extenuar todas las vías diplomáticas y económicas”, justo cuando el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU acaba de expandir la sanciones contra Pyongyang. Y si Trump, desde su cumbre de abril en Florida, no ha dejado de mostrarse obsequioso con China y el presidente Xi Jinping, Mattis mantuvo una retórica menos transigente hacia la segunda potencia económica del mundo. Aunque elogió el “renovado compromiso de China con trabajar con la comunidad internacional para la desnuclearización” de Corea del Norte, insistió en el llamamiento de Washington para que Pekín haga más por frenar a su vecino norcoreano. El conflicto, dijo, “no se puede resolver si no todos asumimos nuestras responsabilidades”. “Creemos –agregó- que China acabará reconociendo a Corea del Norte como una responsabilidad estratégica, no como un activo”. El trato a China fue especialmente tajante al abordar el mar de China Meridional, en el que el gigante asiático –que se atribuye cerca del 90 por ciento de sus aguas - mantiene disputas territoriales con Filipinas, Malasia, Vietnam, Brunéi y Taiwán. “No podemos y no aceptaremos cambios coercitivos y unilaterales del statu quo”, insistió Mattis. El secretario de Defensa defendió que Estados Unidos no dejará de preservar la libertad de navegación en unas aguas por las que transita el 30 por ciento del volumen del comercio mundial. Precisamente, el 26 de mayo, apenas unos días antes de la celebración de este foro Estados Unidos envió por primera vez en la era Trump un buque de guerra a los alrededores de islas disputadas del mar de sur de China. Un gesto que, a juzgar por las palabras del general, EE.UU piensa repetir. Pero aunque quiso mostrarse categórico, Mattis no lo tuvo fácil a la hora de convencer a los presentes del compromiso de EE. UU. La retirada del pacto comercial TPP, una de las primeras medidas de Trump en la presidencia, ha dolido mucho entre los aliados de la región. La salida del acuerdo de París sobre cambio climático, o la reprimenda del presidente a sus aliados de la OTAN, solo han contribuido a reforzar la imagen de Washington como un socio demasiado volátil. “Me gustaría saber con claridad cuáles son las verdaderas intenciones de la nueva Administración”, afirmó


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

tras el discurso de Mattis el ministro de Defensa malasio, Hishammuddin Hussein. Al secretario de Defensa solo le quedaba recurrir a ejercicios de malabares para tratar de dispersar, sin lograrlo plenamente, las dudas fundamentadas de sus socios sobre las repercusiones del “America First” en la región. “Sé que ha habido muchas decepciones”, tuvo que reconocer el secretario de Defensa, en referencia al TPP. “Pero esto (el abandono del pacto comercial) no quiere decir no vayamos a involucrarnos en otras iniciativas bilaterales o multilaterales” . El escepticismo de los socios quedó patente en la ronda de preguntas. Entre ellas, si Washington ha aparcado su retórica agresiva hacia Pekín para que China a cambio ofrezca más apoyo frente a Corea del Norte. “Hay mucho más que eso entre China y Estados Unidos. Que trabajemos con China por Corea del Norte no quiere decir que vayamos a abandonar nuestra defensa de la libertad de navegación”, respondió Mattis. “La competencia (entre los dos países) está llamada a ocurrir, pero el conflicto no es inevitable”, aseguró. ©El Pais Reprinted with permission

Le Monde 4 June 2017

La menace terroriste alarme les pays d’Asie du Sud-Est Le succès des forces gouvernementales philippines sur l’île de Mindanao face à des combattants islamistes est vu comme crucial par les pays voisins, qui redoutent de voir les groupes terroristes y installer une base. Jamais Londres, sans doute, n’a paru si proche de l’Asie. Au moment où la capitale britannique comptait encore les victimes d’un nouvel attentat, commis dans la nuit du dimanche 4 juin, les ministres de la défense d’Asie du SudEst tiraient le signal d’alarme, à Singapour, sur la montée du terrorisme islamiste dans la région. Le ministre singapourien de la défense, Ng Eng Hen, a qualifié cette menace de « préoccupation sécuritaire la plus importante », à l’issue du Shangri-La Dialogue, forum international sur la défense et la sécurité en Asie, réuni chaque année à Singapour par l’IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies). Pendant deux jours, les ministres de la défense et experts de 38 pays venaient pourtant de débattre d’autres menaces non moins sérieuses, au premier rang desquelles le risque nucléaire émanant de Corée du Nord et l’activisme militaire de Pékin en mer de Chine méridionale. Frappes chirurgicales » sur l’île de Mindanao La conférence s’est tenue cette année sur fond d’offensive

terroriste de grande ampleur aux Philippines, où l’armée tente, depuis bientôt deux semaines, de reprendre la totalité de la ville de Marawi, sur l’île de Mindanao, à quelques centaines de combattants islamistes locaux ayant prêté allégeance au groupe Etat islamique (EI), qui ont attaqué la ville le 23 mai et pris en otages des milliers d’habitants. Retenu par ces opérations, le ministre philippin de la défense Delfin Lorenzana a d’ailleurs annulé son voyage à Singapour au dernier moment et s’est fait représenter par son adjoint, M. Ricardo David. M. David a précisé que l’armée philippine continuait à mener des « frappes chirurgicales », tout en poursuivant les opérations de sauvetage des civils encore bloqués dans Marawi. La loi martiale a été déclarée dans toute l’île de Mindanao. Selon ce responsable, quelque 40 combattants étrangers participant au siège de Marawi ont été identifiés, dont des Indonésiens et des Malaisiens ; certains ont été tués, d’autres arrêtés. Il a estimé le nombre de terroristes étrangers actuellement aux Philippines entre 250 et 400 individus. Pour le ministre indonésien de la défense, Ryamizard Ryacudu, « la menace terroriste dans la région a atteint un niveau d’urgence sans précédent ». Djakarta a d’ailleurs été de nouveau la cible d’attentats-suicides meurtriers en mai. « Ce sont des machines à tuer, a poursuivi le ministre à propos des groupes extrémistes. Leur théâtre d’opérations est désormais mondial. » Selon lui, l’EI compterait environ 1 200 militants aux Philippines. Son collègue malaisien, Hishammuddin Hussein, considère pour sa part la menace du groupe Etat islamique comme à la fois « réelle et multidimensionnelle ». Intensification de la coopération entre groupes radicaux Plus facile à sécuriser que ces archipels, Singapour a jusqu’ici été épargnée par le terrorisme. Ses responsables n’en minimisent pas la réalité de la menace pour autant ; il suffit de voir les mesures de sécurité draconiennes prises autour de la conférence de Shangri-La pour en avoir une idée. Pour M. Ng, le responsable de la défense de la cité-Etat, le danger est d’autant plus grand pour l’Asie du Sud-Est que l’EI a perdu du terrain au Moyen-Orient. Les services de renseignements font état d’une intensification de la coopération entre groupes radicaux des différents pays d’Asie ayant prêté allégeance à l’EI, groupes qu’il estime à une trentaine. « La porosité des frontières et la densité de la jungle offrent un accès facile et un abri sûr pour leurs camps d’entraînement, a expliqué M. Ng. Si nous laissons ces groupes s’ancrer un peu plus dans cette zone, ils lanceront d’autres attaques. » Le succès des forces gouvernementales philippines dans la bataille de Marawi est donc crucial pour l’ensemble des pays de la région, qui redoutent de voir les groupes ter-

roristes y installer une base pour déployer leur « califat d’Asie du Sud-Est » et ont compris qu’il leur fallait coopérer davantage pour contrer cette menace. Contrer les efforts de recrutement Le responsable philippin a insisté sur la cybersécurité afin de contrer les efforts de recrutement de combattants au-delà des frontières nationales. L’Indonésie, la Malaisie et les Philippines ont décidé l’an dernier de mettre à profit leurs opérations maritimes conjointes contre le piratage pour lutter aussi contre le terrorisme ; des patrouilles communes devraient être menées à partir du 19 juin dans ce but en mer de Sulu. Sur l’offensive de Marawi, l’aviation indonésienne est venue prêter assistance aux forces philippines pour surveiller les mouvements des groupes terroristes vers l’Indonésie. Et Singapour a offert la coopération de ses services de renseignement. Le ministre indonésien souhaite cependant que Singapour et la Thaïlande s’impliquent davantage dans cette coopération antiterroriste. Ils ne sont pas les seuls pays concernés. Au Shangri-La Dialogue, l’urgence d’une coopération internationale contre le terrorisme a été soulignée aussi bien par les participants chinois que par le général James Mattis, chef du Pentagone, et le premier ministre australien, Malcolm Turnbull, et jusqu’au ministre adjoint de la défense russe, Alexandre Fomine. La menace terroriste a également fait partie des sujets évoqués par la ministre française des armées, Sylvie Goulard, seule ministre européenne présente à Singapour, dans plusieurs des huit entretiens bilatéraux qu’elle a eus, en marge de la conférence, avec ses homologues de la région et avec le premier ministre singapourien, Lee Hsien-long. ©Le Monde Reprinted with permission

The Manila Times 4 June 2017

How long will Shangri-La calm last?

THE annual Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) which took place early this month in Singapore was billed as a supraregional forum for defense ministers and experts from around and beyond the Asia-Pacific region to congregate and discuss primarily but not exclusively regional security issues. In the many years that I have taken part in one way or the other in the SLD—also known as the IISS Asia Security Summit, held annually under the auspices of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore–I have seen many heated exchanges, not least over the contentious territorial disputes in the South China Sea. There are usually two speeches which are considered the highlights of the SLD every year, and garner the most media attention. One is the opening keynote speech to be delivered by the US Secretary of Defense, who attends the

Selected press coverage


SLD every year and usually lays out the US’ latest broad strategic plan for Asia-Pacific. Various “hotspots” are usually covered in this speech, among which are the US-China strategic relationship, the South China Sea issues, and the seemingly never-ending saga of the Korean Peninsula. The other highlight is typically the first speech delivered the next day (the last day of the meeting) by the chief Chinese representative to SLD, who would similarly spell out the Chinese position on various regional and sometimes global strategic issue, and respond to some of the US contentions that were said the previous day. These two key speeches by the representatives of the two largest superpowers would typically set the tone of the “debates” taking place during a particular year’s SLD. Sometimes they even receive more attention from the participants and the media than the supposedly equally important opening gala dinner speech by a visiting head of government. And the many speeches by other security officials from around the world add to color to the conference. China’s top SLD delegates in past meetings have included the defense minister and deputy chiefs of staff, but this year a vice head of its military science academy was sent to the forum, which thus saw its lowest level of Chinese representations in recent years. Many speculations have been advanced for this curious phenomenon. They range from the observation of the recent undulating relationship between China and Singapore (SLD’s permanent host country), to the “calm” on South China Sea lately, even to China’s desire to promote the Xiangshan Forum, its own version of SLD (which nevertheless is not taking place this year due to the all-important five-yearly party congress scheduled around the same time). And for the first time as far as I can remember, the Chinese representative was not delivering a keynote speech in open session. As such, the heightened suspense and expectations of sharp verbal exchanges, especially between the US and China, as was plainly evident in past SLDs, were reduced to a large degree this year. Instead, all eyes and ears were on the new US secretary of defense, James Mattis, as he attempted to spell out the new Trump administration’s Asia-Pacific strategic policy, which has remained elusive for the past half year since Trump’s inauguration. In fact, some regional countries were starting to wonder if there would ever be such a policy by the Trump administration, as they saw and felt that President Trump’s foreign-policy focus was clearly not on the Asia Pacific. What Mattis eventually put across at the SLD was mostly what perhaps would be best described as a “forced” or “reluctant” version of US Asia-Pacific policy as designed by numerous previous administrations. His assurance of America’s “commitment” to the region – “We will be there for you” – is nothing new, as I have heard the same rather general assurance from at least three of his predecessors – Panetta, Hagel and Carter – at SLD. A so-called


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

“rules-based” international order underwriting stability and security has also been advocated by at least Hagel and Carter, both of whom saw the escalation of the South China Sea disputes during their terms. And Mattis echoed at least Carter in declaring the three US defense priorities in Asia Pacific: strengthening alliances, empowering regional countries’ capabilities, and strengthening the US’ own capabilities in the region. On US-China relations, Mattis reiterated that a conflict between the two superpowers was not inevitable, that there was much more to the relationship than just the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula, and that the US sought to cooperate with China whenever possible, but so said his recent predecessors too. And obligatorily, he had to spell out the US commitment to China’s much-vaunted One-China policy (albeit in the question-and-answer portion), after praising Taiwan’s democratic development. Mattis defended the US deployment of the THAAD missile-defense system to South Korea as a response to real and not imaginary threats. Indeed, the gathering storm over the Korean Peninsula was supposed to be the most prominent issue in this year’s SLD, but even then it did not generate the same degree of fervent interest as did the South China Sea in previous years. This is perhaps because the parties concerned (minus the absent North Korea) are willing to give the new South Korean President some much needed time and space to balance their differing interests and concerns. And with a number of blatant terrorist acts fresh in the mind of SLD participants, Mattis’ call for unifying regional and global counter-terrorism efforts, especially the sharing of vital information, is not new but still timely. What may be considered “new” in Mattis’ speech would be his assertion that although threats from North Korea pose a “clear and present danger,” the US’ goal is not “regime change” in North Korea, which may be interpreted as a positive gesture to the reclusive regime. And as if commiserating with the regional countries’ greatest concern, Mattis assured them that the US will not use relationships with allies as bargaining chips. In response to a question, Mattis also raised the need for a “mediation mechanism” for the South China Sea disputes, although he did not clearly spell out what shape such a mechanism would take. A collective sigh of temporary relief could perhaps be felt across the region after Mattis’ various assurances at the SLD. But how long before that feeling of comfort will once again be taken away by sudden drastic developments remains to be seen. ©The Manila Times Reprinted with permission

Straits Times 1 June 2017

Asia-Pacific defence ministers, military chiefs and scholars gather in Singapore for 16th Shangri-La Dialogue Defence ministers, chiefs of defence forces, senior officials and academics from 39 countries have gathered in Singapore for the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD), under the pall of regional terrorist attacks, North Korea’s belligerence, and tensions in the South China Sea. Organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), this year’s Dialogue will be held from Friday to Sunday (June 2 to 4), with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull giving the keynote speech on Friday evening. US Secretary of Defence James Mattis is scheduled to headline the first plenary session on Saturday, during which he is expected to outline the United States’ role in Asia-Pacific security. His counterparts from Japan, Australia and France will lead another much-anticipated session on upholding a “rules-based” regional order. This year’s dialogue is attended by some 22 ministerial delegates, 12 chiefs of defence force, as well as senior defence officials and scholars from 39 countries. On Sunday, Singapore Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen will speak at the fifth plenary session on “Global Threats and Regional Security”, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Friday. Dr Ng will chair two roundtable discussions for visiting ministers and their representatives on Saturday and Sunday, the ministry said. He will also hold bilateral meetings with ministers and senior officials from several countries on the sidelines of SLD. ©Strait Times Reprinted with permission

Xinhua 3 June 2017

Shangri-La Dialogue kicks off amid challenges in Asia-Pacific The 16th Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) opened here on Friday night as senior military officials, diplomats and experts gathered here to address challenges to Asia-Pacific security. “We must work together through our regional institutions for the common good, reject the de-globalization

impulse with a principled and sustained commitment to greater economic integration, embrace opportunities, and address the vulnerabilities of the digital age,” said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a keynote speech to open the event. He called for sharing of intelligence to fight against terrorism as terrorists’ networks are transnational. The Chinese delegation is led by He Lei, vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Participants of the dialogue will hold discussions on topics such as nuclear issues, security cooperation and measures to avoid conflicts, according to the dialogue agenda. Organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the SLD this year will be held on June 2-4. ©Xinhua Reprinted with permission

Xinhua 4 June 2017

Spotlight: Chinese delegation successfully makes China’s voice heard at Shangri-La Dialogue The 16th Shangri-La Dialogue concluded here on Sunday, and during the three-day forum, the Chinese delegation reaffirmed China’s stances on multiple issues and successfully made China’s voice heard. The issues include U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, navigation in the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the international and regional rules, among others. Lt. Gen. He Lei, vice president of the Academy of Military Science of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said Saturday here at a press briefing that the Chinese government and Chinese people strongly oppose U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. He Lei, who led a PLA delegation to the dialogue, said, “On the Taiwan issue, one should not just mention the Taiwan Relations Act, the three China-U.S. joint communiques should also be mentioned, thus giving a full picture of the issue.” The three joint communiques, namely the Shanghai Communique, the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the August 17 communique, form the political foundation of the China-U.S. relations. Regarding navigation in the South China Sea, the senior Chinese military official said, “I think freedom of navigation can’t equate to close-in surveillance,” highlighting that freedom of navigation has never been a problem in the South China Sea. “China firmly opposes close-in surveillance conducted

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by military aircraft and vessels in the adjacent waters and airspace of the Chinese islands, and such military activities do not fall into the category of freedom of navigation,” He Lei said. On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, He Lei attributed the root cause of the issue to the mutual strategic suspicion between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States. He Lei said, “China has been making active efforts with regard to the issue which also involves China’s interests,” adding that China will continue to work with other regional countries in seeking solution to the issue. The general also reiterated that China will continue to follow its three principles on the issue, namely sticking to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, sticking to peace and stability on the peninsula and sticking to peacefully resolving the issue. On international and regional rules, the senior Chinese military official said China is both the defender and observer of these rules. He Lei said, “It is well-known that the Charter of the United Nations is the most important international rule ... China is one of the initiating countries for drawing the charter and also one of the earliest signatories to the charter.” So far, China has signed more than 23,000 bilateral agreements and more than 400 multilateral agreements with related parties in the world, and China is also a member of all specialized agencies in the United Nations, which demonstrates that China is a country that abides by, supports and defends international and regional rules, He Lei said. “International rules should be the rules that are accepted by most countries, or the ones that represent the interests of most countries in the world. As for regional rules, they should represent the interests of most countries in the region,” he said. He Lei noted that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed by China and ASEAN countries in 2002, and the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which was agreed on recently by China and ASEAN countries, represent regional rules. The three-day dialogue, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, gathered senior military officials, diplomats and experts from nearly 40 countries. ©Xinhua Reprinted with permission


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

South China Morning Post 3 June 2017

Mattis outrages Beijing with explicit commitment to defend Taiwan US remains committed to defence of the island but also abides by the one-China policy, US defence chief says at Shangri-La Dialogue Defence ministers from the US, Japan and Australia also said they opposed China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea and condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear proliferation push. US Secretary of Defence James Mattis, as well as his Japanese and Australian counterparts Tomomi Inada and Marise Payne, all highlighted their support for last year’s ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over large swathes of the South China Sea. They said they opposed China’s “militarisation move” in the disputed waters through land reclamation and weapons deployment on the artificial islands because it has unilaterally changed the security “status quo” in the region. Addressing the Shangri-La ­Dialogue, Mattis said the US would continue to abide by its commitment to Taiwan, the first time the island has been mentioned by a US delegation to the forum since its inception in 2002. “The Department of Defence remains steadfastly committed to working with Taiwan and with its democratic government to provide it the defence articles necessary, consistent with the obligations set out in the Taiwan Relations Act, because we stand for the peaceful resolution of any issues in a manner acceptable to the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mattis said, adding later that the US was committed to the one-China policy. Lieutenant General He Lei, vice-president of the PLA Academy of Military Science and the head of the Chinese delegation, said the US should not play up the Taiwan Relations Act. “Mattis should not only mention the Taiwan Relations Act, but should also touch on the Three Joint Communiqués [with Beijing],” He said on the sidelines of the forum. He also underlined Beijing’s opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan and o ­ fficial contact with Taipei. Enacted in 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act requires the US to go to Taiwan’s defence if the island comes under military threat from the mainland. Washington and Beijing also signed three statements between 1972 and 1982, with the US acknowledging that there is “one China” across the Taiwan Strait. Another member of the Chinese delegation, Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, said Mattis sent a wrong message to Taiwan’s pro-independence groups during an ebb in cross-strait ties. “[Mattis’ remark] will encourage the independence-leaning movement in Taiwan, which will harm

the peaceful development of the cross-strait relationship,” he said. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been strained since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power last year and refused to recognise the “1992 consensus”, an understanding that there is only “one China”, but each side has its own interpretation of what constitutes “China”. Taiwanese delegate and former defence minister Andrew Yang Nien-Dzu, said Mattis’ remark had been a strong message to both Beijing and Taipei. “Washington wants to make clear that its commitment to maintain the stability of the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening alliance partnerships shouldn’t exclude Taiwan,” Yang said, stressing that the Taiwan issue is also a key part of the Sino-US relationship under the “one-China framework”. But he also said “Tsai’s administration should avoid over-interpreting Mattis’ remark … to [avoid] causing a misunderstanding that Washington and Taipei had colluded to put Beijing in an awkward position”. Mattis also said the US was ­encouraged by China’s efforts to restrain North Korea but the US would not accept Beijing’s militarisation of islands in the South China Sea. “The Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community towards denuclearisation,” Mattis said. “Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognise North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset.” ©South China Morning Post Reprinted with permission

Asia Times 5 June 2017

US defense chief takes new hard aim at China James Mattis, the chief architect of America’s emerging Asia policy, fired yet another shot across Beijing’s bow at a summit of top regional defense officials. In what increasingly appears to be a deliberate strategy of mixed messaging, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis openly challenged China’s position in the contested South China Sea and offered new strategic reassurance to America’s erstwhile regional strategic allies. “The United States will continue to adapt and continue to expand its ability to work with others to secure a peaceful, prosperous and free Asia, with respect for all nations upholding international law,” said Mattis during his highly anticipated speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore over the weekend. Given the diminished role of the US State Department, which is grappling with a massive 30% budget cut under

US president Donald Trump’s proposed budget, Mattis is increasingly seen as the primary actor shaping American defense and foreign policy in Asia. Since assuming the Pentagon’s leadership, Mattis has bid to reassure key allies in Western Europe and Northeast Asia about the Trump administration’s commitment to existing alliances. His speech in Singapore was part of the Pentagon’s latest effort to push back against lingering fears of American disengagement from the region. The summit, which brought together 23 defense ministers and hundreds of security experts from across the world, quickly became a litmus test for Washington’s ability to reassure the region about its continued leadership and strategic commitment. No less than the event’s keynote speaker Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull implicitly criticized the Trump administration by calling upon America to uphold a “rule-based” regional order, which it almost singlehandedly created and preserved since the end of World War II. “Because we recognize no nation is an island, isolated from others, we stand with our allies, partners and the international community to address pressing security challenges together,” claimed Mattis in a subtle rejection of Trump’s neo-isolationist rhetoric. The Trump administration’s controversial withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and its self-centric “America First” pronouncements have dramatically changed perceptions of America and its role in the world. In Asia, regional states have been specifically perturbed by Trump’s abrupt withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade agreement, just as China launched a myriad of ambitious economic initiatives, ranging from the One Belt, One Road initiatives to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. “Bear with us, once we’ve exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing,” Mattis replied amid a flurry of questions over Washington’s ability to formulate a new comprehensive strategy for the region “We will still be there. We will be there with you.” ©Asia Times Reprinted with permission

Nikkei Asian Review 4 June 2017

Shangri-La Dialogue focuses on terrorism in SE Asia In the wake of the Manchester and London attacks, pipe bombs in Bangkok, suicide bombings in Jakarta, and a besieged city in the southern Philippines, Southeast Asian nations harbor few doubts about the likelihood of more terrorism ahead. The fight against extremist groups, many with connec-

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tions to Islamic State which is at war in the Middle East, was one of the main topics discussed by defense ministers attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this weekend -- the 16th Asia Security Summit organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank. On Sunday morning, defense ministers and other representatives of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met with James Mattis, the U.S. defense secretary, to discuss the situation in Marawi, a besieged Muslim majority city on Mindanao, the southernmost of three main islands in the Philippines. “U.S., Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia offered assistance to the Philippines to deal with the terrorist situation,” Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen of Singapore tweeted soon after the meeting. On Saturday, Mattis affirmed the U.S. commitment to counter-terrorism. “We are exploring new ways to address ... the growing threat posed by the spread of terrorism in Southeast Asia,” he said. “We must defeat extremist organizations wherever they attempt to establish root, not just in Iraq and Syria but also here in Southeast Asia.” Trilateral response Disturbed by the penetration of extremist ideologies, ASEAN ministers called for regional cooperation in the war on terrorism during the three-day meeting. Later this month, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are expected to begin trilateral maritime patrols in the waters of the Sulu archipelago off Mindanao near the conflict area. Tightening security in the area was originally intended to combat piracy, but will now attempt to control the movement of militants around Marawi. Parts of Marawi were overrun last month by the Maute group, an anti-government force aligned with Islamic State that is now using civilian hostages trapped inside the city as human shields. As of Friday, over 170 people had been killed in the clashes: 38 government troops, 19 civilians, and 120 militants. The latter include foreign fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Middle East. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana skipped the Shangri-La Dialogue because of the crisis. Magnet for jihadists Ng said at least 31 terrorist groups in Southeast Asia are known to have allied themselves with Islamic State. Singapore’s defense minister expects the terror threat to rise if extremists arrive from the Middle East, where they have been losing ground. He said Southeast Asia is a risk of being a “pulling ground for would-be jihadists”. Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein of Malaysia said AsiaPacific is now in the “crosshairs” of Islamic State. ©Nikkei Asian Review Reprinted with permission


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Wall Street Journal 3 June 2017

Mattis Urges China to Help Persuade North Korea to Halt Its Weapons Program U.S. defense secretary criticizes China for its actions in South China Sea U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday urged China to help the international community to isolate North Korea and persuade it to halt its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, but didn’t spare criticism of China for its own behavior, in the South China Sea. North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs must be stopped and the era of “strategic patience,” a buzzword for the approach taken during the Obama years, is over, Mr. Mattis said during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference here. “While the North Korean regime has a long record of murder of diplomats, of kidnapping, killing of sailors and criminal activity, its nuclear-weapons program is a threat to all,” Mr. Mattis told a full room of international military officials, senior lawmakers from around the globe, experts and others in an auditorium at the Shangri-La Hotel. But the U.S. has few viable military options when it comes to North Korea, U.S. officials say, and Washington’s primary strategy for now is to influence North Korea through economic and diplomatic means. And on those counts, it has pushed Beijing, a major aid donor and trading partner of North Korea, to help the international community to stop Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs. “Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognize North Korea as a strategic liability, not an asset—a liability inciting increased disharmony and causing peace-loving populations in the region to increase defense spending,” he said. Mr. Mattis, cited Chinese President Xi Jinping’s own words earlier this year. “Only if all sides live up to their responsibilities and come together from different directions can the nuclear issues on the peninsula be resolved as quickly as possible,” Mr. Mattis said. “I agree with President Xi’s words on this point, and those words must be followed by actions,” Mr. Mattis said. “Because we recognize no nation is an island, isolated from others, we stand with our allies, partners and the international community to address pressing security challenges together.” Mr. Mattis’ remarks prompted a pointed response from one of China’s top experts on nuclear strategy, retired Maj. Gen. Yao Yunzhu, who said the U.S. had itself contributed to tensions on the Korean Peninsula by continuing to provide the South with nuclear deterrence guarantees.

That, and labeling Pyongyang as part of an “axis of evil” in 2002, had given the North Koreans a “deep sense of insecurity” and convinced them that “only nuclear weapons could be the ultimate guarantee,” she said during a panel discussion later in the day. She defended China’s record in trying to bring about a negotiated solution, and reiterated Beijing’s recent proposal that North Korea should suspend its nuclear tests in exchange for a halt to joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea. U.S. and South Korean officials have rejected that proposal. “If you are not going to accept or even consider China’s proposal, what else can you counter-propose?” she said. “China is open to ideas.” The U.S. has for the past few years used this annual conference to scold China for its claiming of artificial islands in the South China Sea and for its territorial claims in other islands there, known as the Spratlys. This year, however, North Korea has emerged as the primary security concern in the region after a series of missile launches and nuclear tests. But if there was any question if Mr. Mattis would let China off the hook because the U.S. needs it to help it with North Korea, he made clear the U.S. would cut no deals. During the speech, Mr. Mattis didn’t hold back in his own criticism of China, which has asserted territorial claims in the South China Sea against international laws. China claims sovereignty over all South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters and says U.S. military activities there are destabilizing the region. “Artificial island construction and indisputable militarization of facilities on features in international waters undermine regional stability,” Mr. Mattis said. “The scope and effect of China’s construction activities in the South China Sea differ from those of other countries in several key ways,” he said. That includes the nature of Beijing’s militarization of some of the islands in the South China Sea, and China’s “blatant disregard” for international law in so doing, Mr. Mattis said. “We oppose countries militarizing artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law,” he said. “We cannot and will not accept unilateral, coercive changes to the status quo.” China sees things much differently. Speaking on a panel Saturday evening at the forum, Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the Center for International Security Cooperation in China’s Ministry of National Defense, fired back at those U.S. officials who question China’s maritime claims. He said about 100,000 ships transit through the South China Sea each year and that no countries have complained that their merchant fleets face problems with freedom of navigation. So it is “ludicrous” to make an issue of the matter, he said.

Instead, talk of China’s militarization of South China Sea islands is only intended “to smear” the country’s reputation, he said, adding that China’s land-reclamation work in the area was part of its “legitimate self-defense.” The U.S. continues to send ships and conduct regular reconnaissance flights in the region, he noted. “Aren’t these militarization?” ©Wall Street Journal Reprinted with permission

Yonhap 2 June 2017

N. Korea, Trump’s Asia policy to top agenda in Shangri-La Dialogue Singapore prepared Friday to greet top defense officials from South Korea, the United States and two dozen other countries for Asia’s most high-profile security forum. The three-day Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, is slated to kick off at night with a special address by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Security guards, armed with rifles, were deployed around the venue, the Shangri-La Hotel in this city state. This year’s session comes amid North Korea’s unrelenting provocations highlighted by a series of ballistic missile launches. “The North Korea issue is traditionally a top agenda item of the annual conference,” South Korea’s Ambassador to Singapore Lee Sang-deok said, although the communist country has been absent from the forum launched in 2002. Keen attention will also be paid to the Donald Trump administration’s policy on Asia. China has been stepping up efforts to improve relations with Southeast Asian countries after an era of Washington’s “Asia rebalancing” or “Asia pivot” strategy under the Obama administration. “Just as Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia is a spot for deep diplomatic rivalry between the U.S. and China,” Lee pointed out. The U.S. will be represented by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, with China sending a military general as its chief delegate. China is expected to maintain a relatively low-key approach on the South China Sea issue at this year’s session. South Korean Defense Minster Han Min-koo is also among participants. He is scheduled to arrive here in the afternoon and soon start official activities with bilateral meetings with his Australian and Indonesian counterparts. On Saturday, Han plans to meet bilaterally with the U.S. secretary to discuss pending alliance issues, apparently including the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude

Selected press coverage


Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea. Organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a British think tank, the Shangri-La Dialogue draws defense ministers, military chiefs and other representatives from Asia, Europe and America. It involves defense ministers, military chiefs and other representatives from Asia, Europe and America. More than 30 countries participated in last year’s meeting. ©Yonhap Reprinted with permission

Financial Times 4 June 2017

US allies in Asia dismayed by ‘America First’ Some partners fear a Trump retreat from US security leadership in the region Allies and partners of the US have expressed dismay about the strategic consequences of President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, with predictions of a US retreat from leadership in Asia taking centre stage at an annual security forum this weekend. James Mattis, US defence secretary, insisted the US would continue to expand its engagement in the Pacific — where 60 per cent of US Navy ships and a slim majority of US Army forces are deployed — “to secure a peaceful, prosperous and free Asia”. As Mr Mattis addressed the forum, two US aircraft carriers were taking part in exercises with Japan’s navy and air forces in the Sea of Japan, the first time two US warships of that scale have operated jointly off the Korean peninsula since the 1990s.But he faced sceptical questions from the floor of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Asia defence forum in Singapore, where friendly nations openly voiced doubts. Malaysia’s defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein told the meeting he was “still trying to figure out” US strategy in Asia. “I would like to know very clearly what are the true intentions of the new administration,” Mr Hishammuddin said. France’s defence minister Sylvie Goulard regretted the US decision to quit the Paris climate accord. “This decision is one with heavy consequences,” Ms Goulard said, emphasising the security implications of climate change. Allies’ confidence has been shaken by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris deal, and from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal that was a signature initiative of his predecessor Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia. On Mr Trump’s trip to Europe last week, he scolded allies for “chronic underfunding” of Nato and declined to affirm the alliance’s commitment to mutual defence. Ben Schreer, an Asia expert at Macquarie University in


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Sydney, said: “America First is incompatible with a leadership model that allies and partners can follow.” “If the United States, the president, continues to primarily see [relationships with] allies as transactional, that’s going to put stress on these relationships.” After Mr Mattis addressed the forum, he was asked by a security expert whether the world faced the “destruction” of the global order the US has traditionally maintained. “Bear with us, once we’ve exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing,” Mr Mattis said in response. Anxiety over America’s commitment to the Pacific, combined with a low-profile Chinese delegation this year, meant the focus of debate shifted away from China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea — a customary target for criticism by the US and its Asian partners at the Singapore forum. China has also benefited from warmer relations with Southeast Asian nations. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations ended a summit in Manila this year with a statement noting improved co-operation with China over the South China Sea, and skirting any mention of controversial issues such as Beijing’s militarisation of atolls and reefs and the airbases it has constructed on them. China’s growing power nevertheless remained a key subject at this year’s meeting. The US and others appealed to Beijing to take a leading role in curbing North Korea, which conducted its latest ballistic missile test earlier in the week. “Ultimately, we believe China will come to recognise North Korea as a strategic liability not an asset,” Mr Mattis said. US partners in the region are anxious that the North Korean crisis is overshadowing other concerns for Washington, reducing the attention given to the South China Sea. However, Mr Mattis insisted the US would not accept China placing weapons on artificial islands in the contested waterway, and said Washington would continue to maintain an “operational presence” in the South China Sea. “It’s not a binary option,” Mr Mattis said. “We don’t have to walk away from our values on freedom of navigation because we have to work with China on North Korea.” ©Financial Times Reprinted with permission

Selected press coverage



Selected IISS publications

The Adelphi series is the Institute’s principal contribution to policy-relevant, original academic research. Books published since 2009 include:

Le Mière, Christian and Raine, Sarah, Regional Disorder: The South China Sea Disputes. Adelphi 436–437. Routledge for the IISS, 2013.

Inkster, Nigel, China’s Cyber Power. Adelphi 456. Routledge for the IISS, 2016.

Dodge, Toby, Iraq: From War to a New Authoritarianism. Adelphi 434–435. Routledge for the IISS, 2012.

Fitzpatrick, Mark, Asia’s Latent Nuclear Powers: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Adelphi 455. Routledge for the IISS, 2016.

Till, Geoffrey, Asia’s naval expansion: An arms race in the making?. Adelphi 432–433. Routledge for the IISS, 2012.

Parello-Plesner, Jonas and Duchâtel, Mathieu, China’s Strong Arm: Protecting Citizens and Assets Abroad. Adelphi 451. Routledge for the IISS, 2015.

Pollack, Jonathan D, No Exit: North Korea, Nuclear Weapons and International Security. Adelphi 418–419. Routledge for the IISS, 2011.

Lewis, Jeffrey, Paper Tigers: China’s Nuclear Posture. Adelphi 446. Routledge for the IISS, 2014.

Holslag, Jonathan, Trapped Giant: China’s Military Rise. Adelphi 416. Routledge for the IISS, 2011.

Friedberg, Aaron L., Beyond Air-Sea Battle: The debate over US Military Strategy in Asia. Adelphi 444. Routledge for the IISS, 2014.

Taylor, Brendan, Sanctions as Grand Strategy. Adelphi 411. Routledge for the IISS, 2010.

Barthwal-Datta, Monika, Food Security in Asia: Challenges, Policies and Implications. Adelphi 441–442. Routledge for the IISS, 2014. Hokayem, Emile, Syria’s Uprising and the Fracturing of the Levant. Adelphi 438. Routledge for the IISS, 2013.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

Cortright, David and Väyrynen, Raimo, Towards Nuclear Zero. Adelphi 410. Routledge for the IISS, 2010. Bisley, Nick, Building Asia’s Security. Adelphi 408. Routledge for the IISS, 2009. Raine, Sarah, China’s African Challenges. Adelphi 404–405. Routledge for the IISS, 2009.

The IISS Strategic Dossier series harnesses the Institute’s technical expertise to present detailed information on key strategic issues. Recent publications include: Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2017: Key developments and trends. IISS, 2017. Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2016: Key developments and trends. IISS, 2016. Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2015: Key developments and trends. IISS, 2015. Regional Security Assessment 2014: Key developments and trends in Asia-Pacific security. IISS, 2014. North Korean Security Challenges: A net assessment. IISS, 2011. The FARC Files: Venezuela, Ecuador and the Secret Archive of ‘Raúl Reyes’. IISS, 2011. Iran’s Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Capabilities: A net assessment. IISS, 2011. Iran’s Ballistic Missile Capabilities: A net assessment. IISS, 2010. Preventing Nuclear Dangers in Southeast Asia and Australasia. IISS, 2009. Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the shadow of Iran. IISS, 2008.

Strategic Comments is the Institute’s online source of analysis of international security and politicomilitary issues. Articles focused on South, Southeast and Northeast Asia published between December 2015 and June 2017 include: ‘US–China dialogue and the tenuous bilateral relationship’. Strategic Comments, vol. 23, no. 21, June 2017. ‘South Korea’s presidential transition and strategic challenges’. Strategic Comments, vol. 23, no. 19, June 2017. ‘China–North Korea relations and the 19th Party Congress’. Strategic Comments, vol. 23, no. 12, April 2017. ‘The Islamic State and Southeast Asia’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 36, November 2016. ‘China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 34, November 2016. ‘North Korea: US and allied military options’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 33, November 2016. ‘The Philippines: Duterte’s wilful start’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 31, October 2016. ‘North Korea’s fifth nuclear test’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 29, October 2016. ‘Turbulence in the Taiwan Strait’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 23, August 2016.

‘Pakistan: a more positive trajectory’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 20, July 2016.’ ‘China’s shaky trade figures and their ramifications’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 10, May 2016. ‘China’s energy policy: new technology and civil nuclear expansion’. Strategic Comments, vol. 22, no. 3, March 2016. ‘Myanmar: the challenges of power’. Strategic Comments, vol. 21, no. 38, December 2015. ‘India’s new maritime strategy’. Strategic Comments, vol. 21, no. 37, December 2015.

The Military Balance is the Institute’s annual assessment of military capabilities and defence economics worldwide. Region-by-region analyses cover the major military and economic trends and developments affecting security policy and the trade in weapons and other military equipment. Comprehensive tables portray key data on weapons and defence economics. Defence expenditure trends over a ten-year period are also shown. The Military Balance 2017. Routledge for the IISS, 2017.

Armed Conflict Survey is the Institute’s annual review of political, military and humanitarian trends in current conflicts. Armed Conflict Survey 2017. Routledge for the IISS, 2017

Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, the Institute’s bi-monthly journal, is a leading forum for analysis and debate of international and strategic affairs. Recent articles of interest include: Tim Huxley and Benjamin Schreer, ‘Trump’s Missing Asia Strategy’, Survival, vol. 59, no. 3, June–July 2017, pp. 81–89. Robert Ayson and Manjeet S. Pardesi, ‘Asia’s Diplomacy of Violence: China–US Coercion and Regional Order’, Survival, vol. 59, no. 2, April–May 2017, pp. 85–124. Samuel Charap, John Drennan and Pierre Noël, ‘Russia and China: A New Model of Great-Power Relations’, Survival, vol. 59, no. 1, February–March 2017, pp. 25–42. William Choong, ‘Trump and the Asia-Pacific: Managing Contradictions’, Survival, vol. 59, no. 1, February–March 2017, pp. 181–187. Lora Saalman, ‘Little Grey Men: China and the Ukraine Crisis’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 6, December 2016–January 2017, pp. 135–156. Shashank Joshi, ‘Raiders in Kashmir: India’s Pakistan Problem’, Survival, vol. 58. No. 6, December 2016–January 2017, pp. 195–208.

Selected press coverage


David C. Gompert and Bruce H. Stover, ‘Creating a Sino-US Energy Relationship’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 4, August– September 2016, pp. 63–69. Lanxin Xiang, ‘Xi’s Dream and China’s Future’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 53–62. Christian Dargnat, ‘China’s Shifting Geo-economic Strategy’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 63–76. Andrea Berger, ‘Disrupting North Korea’s Military Markets’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 101–130. Denny Roy, ‘Preparing for a North Korean Missile’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 131–154. Sarah Percy, ‘Maritime Crime and Naval Response’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 155–186. Ryan D. Martinson, ‘Shepherds of the South Seas’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 187–212. Brian G. Carlson, ‘China–Russia Relations and the Inertia of History’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 3, June–July 2016, pp. 213–222. Jonathan D. Caverley and Ethan B. Kapstein, ‘Who’s Arming Asia?’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 2, April–May 2016, pp. 167–187. Nigel Inkster, ‘Coming to Terms with Chinese Power’, Survival, vol. 58, no. 1, February–March 2016, pp. 209–216. Tim Huxley and Benjamin Schreer, ‘Standing up to China’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 6, December 2015–January 2016, pp. 127–144. Nien-chung Chang Liao and Dalton Kuen-da Lin, ‘Rebalancing Taiwan–US Relations’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 6, December 2015–January 2016, pp. 145–158. Bill Emmott, ‘China: It’s the Politics, Stupid’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 6, December 2015–January 2016, pp. 221–228. David C. Gompert and Martin Libicki, ‘ Waging Cyber War the American Way’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 4, August–September 2015, pp. 7–28. Aaron L. Friedberg, ‘The Debate Over US China Strategy’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 3, June–July 2015, pp. 89–110.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue

William Choong, ‘Defence and Japan’s Constitutional Debate’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 2, April–May 2015, pp. 173–192. Charlotte Kennedy, ‘Politics and Gender in Modern Australia’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 1, February–March 2015, pp. 189–196. Robert Ayson and Desmond Ball, ‘Can a Sino-Japanese War Be Controlled?’, Survival, vol. 56, no. 6, December 2014– January 2015, pp. 135–166. David C. Gompert and Martin Libicki, ‘Cyber Warfare and Sino-American Crisis Instability’, Survival, vol. 56, no. 4, August–September 2014, pp. 7–22. Yogesh Joshi and Frank O’Donnell, ‘India’s Submarine Deterrent and Asian Nuclear Proliferation’, Survival, vol. 56, no. 4, August–September 2014, pp. 157–174.

Strategic Survey is the Institute’s annual review of strategic developments throughout the world. Recent sections of interest include: ‘India’s troubled relationships with Pakistan and China’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Minimal returns on Indian regional policy’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Shifts in Pakistani foreign policy’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Uncertainty in Beijing’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘China’s developing great-power diplomacy’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Energetic Japanese diplomacy’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Pyongyang undermines strategic patience’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Southeast Asia and the South China Sea challenge’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘ISIS and Southeast Asia’, Strategic Survey 2016. ‘Australia’s ambiguous policies on Asian security’, Strategic Survey 2016.


The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Since the inception of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in 2002, this unique experiment in multilateral defence diplomacy has involved, at one point or other, defence ministers, deputy ministers, chiefs of defence staff, national security advisers, permanent undersecretaries, intelligence chiefs and other national security and defence officials from: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, European Union, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Myanmar, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. The result has been the growth of the Shangri-La Dialogue into the richest collection of defence professionals in the Asia-Pacific. The goal of the IISS is to ensure that the Shangri-La Dialogue will continue to serve as the best available vehicle in the Asia-Pacific for developing and channelling astute and effective public policy on defence and security. The IISS, a registered charity with offices in London, Washington, Manama and Singapore, is the world’s leading authority on political–military conflict. It is the primary independent source of accurate, objective information on international strategic issues. Publications include The Military Balance, an annual reference work on each nation’s defence capabilities; Strategic Survey, an annual review of world affairs; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, a bi‑monthly journal on international affairs; Strategic Comments, offering online analysis of topical issues in international affairs; and the Adelphi book series, the institute’s principal contribution to policy-relevant, original academic research. The range of IISS publications, its convening power, and the institute’s strong international policy perspective make the IISS a key actor in the global strategic and economic debate.

“The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue is one of the world’s great strategic gatherings.” Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia “The IISS always proves itself a strategic asset when it is time for rigorous thinking.” James Mattis, US Secretary of Defense “This annual Dialogue has emerged as a premier forum for exchange of views from strategic thinkers, policymakers and practitioners interested in the Asia-Pacific defence and security issues.” Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State for Defence, India “This very important conference, [a] conference at which the security of half of the global population is discussed.” Dr Ursula von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence, Germany

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IISS Shangri la dialogue 2017  
IISS Shangri la dialogue 2017  

International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) IISS 16th Asia Security Summit, The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Singapore, 2–4 June 201...