Asian Insider May 30: US-China differences in the spotlight at Shangri-La Dialogue; Modi begins second term

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

US-China differences to take centrestage at Shangri-La Dialogue

US and China stepped up airing of their complaints against each other even as their officials and experts made their way to Singapore, for this year’s premier annual defence summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Who said what?: General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Chinese President Xi Jinping of reneging on promises not to militarise the South China Sea, while giving a talk at Brookings Institution in the US.

Also, America's Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who will deliver the opening Plenary at the Dialogue said China remained his top defence priority although threats in the Middle East and North Korea would “consume” his time.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui, meanwhile, added his voice to the ongoing furore over trade tariffs imposed by the US saying Beijing opposed the use of ‘big sticks’ like trade sanctions, tariffs and protectionism and that those provoking trade disputes were indulging in ‘naked economic terrroism’.

China's high-level delegation: Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe is leading the People’s Liberation Army delegation to this year’s Dialogue and will speak on international security cooperation on June 2 and will take questions as well. This is only the second time that a Chinese defence minister will be attending the forum. The last time was in 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the Dialogue.

Further reading:  

Shanahan to meet Chinese counterpart in Singapore: US official

PM Lee to discuss US-China relations, global role of small states at Shangri-La Dialogue

Visit our Shangri-La Dialogue microsite for regular updates.

Pentagon seeks funds to reduce US reliance on China’s rare earth metals

China narrows US lead in 2019 power ranking of the region

Narendra Modi to begin second term

More than 8,000 guests were gathering at the President's House in New Delhi to witness the swearing in ceremony for Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who begins a second term in office. Among them were leading businessmen and Bollywood actors. While a wait begins to see how he will lead the country, his invitation to members of the BIMSTEC alliance has raised concerns about the future of the SAARC grouping.

Bimstec is the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, and counts as its members Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Saarc is the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as its  members.

Umno leaders tussle for control of party

It is one of the oldest parties in the region. And after an unbelievable loss in elections in 2018, that led to members seeking refuge elsewhere, it is slowly getting back into action. But its resurgence has also led to a new leadership tussle.

What to watch out for?: Matters seem set to come to a head at the party's general assembly in November. A key matter that will come up will be decisions on constitutional amendments to disqualify leaders convicted of crimes, from taking up party posts.

Read more:

Fractured opposition finding its feet

More ex-Umno leaders join Mahathir's PPBM

Vietnam a rising Asian powerhouse

Vietnam has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, after it notched up a growth rate of 7.1 per cent last year. Competitive wages, growth in manufacturing and private investments are fuelling its expansion, a new report says. What's more, it could well benefit from the ongoing US-China trade war.

World's largest gaming festival comes to Singapore

Singapore is set to play host to the first Asian edition of the world's largest gaming festival, gamescom from Oct 15 to 18, next year. A two-day industry gaming conference and a three-day trade and public exhibition, will be held simultaneously. This will be the result of two-year long discussions.

Further reading:

Taking Singapore e-sports to the next level

Razer says SEA Games just the first step for growing e-sports in the region

Other developments:

KL nabs a Malaysian, a Bangladeshi and an Indonesian in separate anti-terror swoops

Japan's Narita airport rolls out security robots in run-up to 2020 Olympics

Pakistan races to protect mountain villages from runaway glacier

That’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow. Thanks for reading.