Speaking Of Asia: When the French go marching in

The French and other Europeans, too, are flagging their worries about China's rise and shifting their security policies accordingly in Asia

This year's edition of the Shangri-La Dialogue deservedly focused much attention on China's Defence Minister, who was putting in an appearance at the premier regional security dialogue after having been represented by lower-ranking delegates the past eight years. Without question, General Wei Fenghe delivered for his country, producing a speech that can only be described as a masterclass in public diplomacy. His plenary address relayed confidence and resolve, and even if a lot of it was meant for his home audience, it did impress the civilian and military defence chiefs, analysts and other security-related people in the hall as well.

Yet, aside from the opening keynote and the US Defence Secretary's plenary address the next morning - the format that the dialogue has fallen into - one speech that probably merited greater attention was delivered by French Defence Minister Florence Parly.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2019, with the headline 'When the French go marching in'. Print Edition | Subscribe