Defence chiefs gather in Singapore for Shangri-La Dialogue

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong giving the keynote address. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

SINGAPORE - Defence chiefs from 26 nations are gathering here for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue amid worsening tensions over the South China Sea.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered the keynote address on Friday, at the start of the annual three-day conference hosted by the International Institute for Security Studies (IISS).

This year's meeting has drawn strong interest even from Europe, with the French, Spanish and German defence ministers having confirmed their attendance at the meeting.

China and other claimants urged to halt reclamation in South China Sea

The United States, Japan and Australia called on China and others to clarify their claims in the South China Sea and halt all land reclamation, hours after the US asserted its dominance in Asia with stepped-up strategic ties with major countries in the region and pledging more than half a billion dollars to help build up their maritime capabilities.

"China has reclaimed 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined," US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said yesterday at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). "And China did so only in 18 months. It is unclear how much farther China will go." READ MORE HERE

US hits China over sea reclamation, vows more patrols

The United States on Saturday called for an immediate end to China's intensifying reclamation works in the South China Sea and vowed to continue sending military aircraft and ships to the tense region.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore that Beijing was behaving "out of step" with international norms. READ MORE HERE

Defence ministers reaffirm cooperation to tackle terrorism, human smuggling

SINGAPORE - Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and 22 visiting ministers, who are in Singapore for the 14th Shangri-La Dialogue, stressed the need for the international community to deepen cooperation to curtail the spread of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and tackle the root causes of human smuggling. READ MORE HERE

China is defender of peace; South China Sea issue hyped up, say experts and officials

SINGAPORE - China has always been a defender of world peace and the South China Sea issue has been sensationalised to a certain extent by some nations in and outside of the region, experts and officials said.

Huang Jing, director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the National University of Singapore, said there have been many crises since the Cold War, such as Libya, Egypt, Kosovo and Ukraine, and many issues have also been seen across Asia, including the Korean nuclear issue and the territorial disputes in East China Sea and South China Sea. READ MORE HERE

Indonesia urges peace patrols in South China Sea

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea - including China - should carry out joint peace patrols there to reduce the risk of conflict, Indonesia's defence minister said.

Senior US military officials have recently urged South-east Asian countries to jointly patrol the waters as it seeks to reassure its allies that it will back them against China's assertions to about four-fifths of the sea. But they haven't mentioned China as a potential participant. READ MORE HERE

Japan says China, others must behave responsibly in South China Sea

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Japan's Minister of Defense warned on Saturday that land reclamation projects in the South China Sea risked plunging the region into disorder and urged nations, including China, to behave responsibly.

"If we leave any unlawful situation unattended, order will soon turn to disorder, and peace and stability will collapse," Gen Nakatani said during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. READ MORE HERE

US demands immediate halt to South China Sea reclamations

SINGAPORE (AFP) - The United States on Saturday called for an "immediate and lasting halt" to reclamation works in disputed waters in the South China Sea, saying Beijing's behaviour in the area was "out of step" with international norms.

"First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants," US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told a high-level security conference in Singapore. READ MORE HERE

China would like to grow without having to worry about conflict: PM Lee

CHINA wants to deal with its domestic issues and reforms without having to worry about problems with the rest of the world, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the Shangri-La Dialogue last night.

He made this point in reply to a question from South Korean academic Chung Min Lee, who asked Mr Lee how he foresaw China's rise militarily and how he proposed managing it. READ MORE HERE

19-year-old detained for planning to join ISIS had planned to kill President and PM Lee

The 19-year-old student detained last month for planning to join terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) intended to kill President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong if he could not leave Singapore for Syria, Mr Lee disclosed on Friday. READ MORE HERE

Pentagon chief gets bird's eye view of Malacca Strait

HOURS after slamming China for its reclamation activity in the South China Sea, which he said altered the regional status quo, United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter yesterday boarded a US Marine Corps aircraft to tour the crowded Malacca Strait.

Accompanied by The Straits Times as well as the travelling press from Washington in an Osprey plane, Mr Carter and top US Defence Department officials toured the waterway for an hour after taking off from Paya Lebar Air Base.

The tilt-rotor Osprey, which lifts off like a helicopter but cruises as a turboprop plane, sometimes flew as low as 500 feet over parts of the strait. READ MORE HERE

US and China must not carve up Pacific Ocean into two spheres of influence: PM Lee

Countries in the region read it as a good sign that both the United States and China say that the broad Pacific Ocean is "vast enough" to embrace both powers.

But this is provided that their notion of "vast enough" does not mean the Pacific Ocean can be carved up into two spheres of influence - a scenario which would only "circumscribe options for other countries and increase the risk of rivalry and conflict between the two power blocs," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday. READ MORE HERE

Singapore, Germany to cooperate against terror

MILITARY action is not the only way to thwart activities of extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has said.

There are ways to counter their influence and the impact of their radicalisation by working with community and religious leaders as well as civilian organisations.

Noting that the fight against radical groups will be a "significant challenge", he said yesterday that Singapore will "need the community on our side for this". READ MORE HERE

Defence chiefs gather for Shangri-La Dialogue

Defence chiefs from 26 nations gather here for the annual Shangri-La Dialogue amid worsening tensions over the South China Sea.

They will meet against the backdrop of the strategic bookending of Asia by Japan and India amid the steady progress of the US rebalance towards the region. READ MORE HERE

US calls for halt to land reclamation in S. China Sea

United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter is demanding an immediate halt to Chinese land reclamation in disputed waters in the South China Sea, hitting back at Beijing days after it unveiled a policy document outlining plans to boost military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Speaking at a change-of-command ceremony for the US Pacific Command on Wednesday, Mr Carter made some of the strongest remarks yet in the ongoing war of words between Beijing and Washington over China's actions in the disputed waterway.

"We want a peaceful resolution of all disputes, and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant," he said at the Joint Base Pearl Harbour-Hickam in Hawaii. READ MORE HERE

Commentary: 14 years of giving it a go for regional security

Not many observers of regional affairs will know that it was the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew who gave the much-needed push for the establishment of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual defence summit that will kick off its 14th edition tonight.

In 2001, Dr John Chipman, the director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), had a brainwave - compared to Europe, Asia did not have a defence forum which involved meetings of more than two defence ministers. So he sought the advice of Mr Lee. Mr Lee's curt answer: "Give it a go." READ MORE HERE

Muted response in US to China's new defence paper


Beijing's new policy paper outlining plans to boost China's military presence in Asia landed with a thud in Washington, with administration officials and analysts taking turns to either criticise the document for its messages of expansive powers, dismiss it as nothing new or simply ignore it.

At a White House press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, the Chinese defence White Paper was not mentioned.

Spokesman Josh Earnest, instead, spoke broadly about the US' continued interest in the South China Sea. And while he indicated that President Barack Obama was up to date on the situation in the region, Mr Earnest did not so much as acknowledge the existence of China's new policy document. READ MORE HERE

Admiral leads China's Shangri-La summit team

BEIJING - A Chinese delegation led by Admiral Sun Jianguo, Vice-Chief of Staff of the People's Liberation Army, will take part in the Shangri-La Dialogue held in Singapore later this week, a Defence Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

During the three-day meeting from Friday to Sunday, Adm Sun will elaborate on China's foreign and defence policies.

He will also detail "the Chinese military's international cooperation on global security matters, and its provision of public security products to the global community", spokesman Yang Yujun told a press conference yesterday. READ MORE HERE

New Pentagon chief to make first Asia-Pacific trip


WASHINGTON - US Defence Secretary Ash Carter will travel to Japan and South Korea this week on his first trip to the Asia-Pacific region since becoming Pentagon chief, with the aim of boosting the United States' strategic rebalance to the region, the Department of Defence said on Friday.

The trip, which begins tomorrow, is one of two that Mr Carter plans to make to the region over the next two months. Next month, he will visit Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue, where he will meet partners from South-east Asia, and then travel on to India.

The visits come at a time of tensions in the region as China and its closest neighbours jockey for control of resources in the contested waters, reefs and islands of the South China and East China seas. READ MORE HERE

Four US warships to operate out of Singapore by 2018

Four US warships will be operating out of Singapore by 2018, up from one currently, said a senior US Navy officer yesterday.

Rear-Admiral Charles Williams told Agence France-Presse that there will soon be up to four US Navy littoral combat ships (LCS) in Singapore. These vessels are designed to fight in coastal areas similar to South-east Asian waters.

"We envision four ships here by May 2017 to some time in 2018... but I think what you have is that by 2018, four LCS ships will be rotationally deployed... to Singapore," he said. READ MORE HERE

S'pore doing great things for peace: US


Singapore is "doing great things" in the region and globally to help maintain peace and stability, something the United States is grateful for, said senior Pentagon official David Shear.

The strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and the US is also one bound by a "strong common interest", said Mr Shear, who is Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs.

"It is a good, strong, healthy relationship with very good communication," he told The Straits Times. READ MORE HERE

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