04 June 2014
Perhaps the number “13” is unlucky after all. For, over this weekend, the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD), the premier Asia-Pacific security forum held annually in Singapore, was unfortunately shrouded in a thicket of almost tangible tension.
The first salvo was launched by none other than the increasingly controversial Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. During his keynote speech at SLD opening dinner, Abe made a thinly veiled accusation that China upset the status quo in the East China Sea by threat of force.
Abe talked about the need to change the country’s legal basis, a reference to the amendment of Japan’s pacifist constitution, to enable it to take part in “collective self-defense.” But amiss in Abe’s extensive description of the “new Japanese” concept was any mention of Japan’s militaristic past which still casts a dark pall over many of its victimized neighbors.
The next morning, as if in sync, US secretary of defense Chuck Hagel wasted no time in his keynote speech to directly confront China by accusing the latter of unilaterally altering the status quo in the South China Sea.
… The author is a senior fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / RSIS / Print
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