Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Image Credits: Sydney Morning Herald
The IISC security summit, also known as the Shangri La Dialogue, is the Track 2 annual security summit held in Singapore since 2002. The forum has derived its name from the Shangri La Hotel, where it was held for its very first edition in 2002. The idea of the summit is to foster a sense of community and belief among the most important players in the defence and security community in the Asian region.
Over the period, the summit has attained a premier status because of Asia’s growing contribution to the growing global economy, smooth exchange of ideas and opinions and development of progressive foreign policy.
The Shangri La Dialogue was back to business after a two-year COVID hiatus. The stage was set and the entire world was watching with keen interest. The summit was expected to be used by the two new centres of the world order, the US and China, to trade blows over everything from Taiwan’s sovereignty to the Russo-Ukrainian war.
The summit concluded last Sunday with some very interesting developments. The major highlight of the Shangri La dialogue was the Russo-Ukrainian war and the growing Chinese aggression.
The US-China bilateral meeting held for the first time since Joe Biden’s presidential term was at the heart of the dialogue and garnered the most attention. The meeting went beyond the scheduled time and showed some positive signs that the two giants of the new world order are committed to restoring communications between both countries at the highest level. But both nations went head to head and sparred with each other on numerous issues, including China's aggression in the south china sea, status of Taiwan, border conflicts with its neighbours, and the Russo-Ukrainian war during the speeches of their defence representatives.
The US accused China of destabilising the region through its aggression and bullying and demanded a region based on the rule of law where every nation, big or small, is free to pursue its interest without intimidation and coercion. This came regarding China’s continuous violation of maritime and fishing laws and their border conflicts with other countries of the region. The US also held China responsible for Russia’s continued aggression in Ukraine. While discussing the issue of Taiwan, the US maintained its position that it does not support Taiwan’s independence struggle but opposed any unilateral changes to the status quo and reiterated that it would continue to provide military and economic aid in order to make Taiwan self-sufficient in terms of defence capabilities. The US defence chief also clarified their intentions about power groupings in the Indo-Pacific and their role to restrict expansionary powers in the region. The US representative Lloyd Austin also gave a lot of emphasis on the Indo-Pacific calling it a region that would shape the trajectory of the 21st century. He also conveyed America’s commitment towards building a safe and open Indo-Pacific.
Image Credits: Twitter
China responded to US criticism in a fiery style. China accused Washington of destabilising the region with its multiple coalitions and was not happy with the intention of targeting a specific country. Beijing was displeased with American efforts to violate the sovereignty of People’s Republic of China by supplying arms and ammunition to Taiwan and made it clear that it would have far-reaching consequences on Sino-American relations. The Chinese representative expressed the desire of peaceful reunification and if attempts are made to secede Taiwan from PRC, there would be blood and China would not hesitate to launch a war and they will fight till the end. The Chinese representative Wei Fenghe also registered China’s opposition to criticism over aggression in the South China sea. Beijing lambasted Washington and said that its actions are important for the nations security as some powers have established navigation hegemony in the name of freedom of navigation
Another important development of the Dialogue was the announcement of Japan’s new security strategy, which will be implemented by the end of the year. Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida expressed his concern over violation of rule based order by Russia and felt that it would set up a precedent for other expansionary powers around the globe. Tokyo also presented its support to Ukraine and called for the International community to impose further sanctions on Russia in order to set an example for other powers. Japan announced that it would increase its defence and deterrence capacities and would push for a substantial increase in its defence budget that is extremely necessary for the nation to survive in the new era.
Australia also made some very important statements. Australia’s defence minister Richard Marles clarified that it values its productive relationship with China and China’s economic growth is beneficial for the region. He clarified that Australia is looking for different avenues of cooperation, but would not tolerate any attempts to malign the region's peace and security. He accepted China’s growing influence in the international sphere but called out China to follow the rule of law and respect agreed rules and norms. The Australian representative also expressed that China’s support of Russian actions in Ukraine and its silence on the violation of the UN charter is a cause of concern for the region given the advancements and investments it is making in the armed forces.
The Russo-Ukrainian war was at the very heart of every bilateral meeting and every session held over the course of three days. In this regard, the online address of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was of utmost importance. The President said that the Russian invasion of his country is not just about Europe and NATO’S expansion but is about globally important things. Russia wants to reject all the advancements in human civilizations, including international law, and return to the life of the 19th century. He asked the World to stand with Ukraine and support them in this time of crisis.
Impact on the Asian order:
China used the platform brilliantly to counter the US and managed to push them back with its ultra aggressive stand. Through this China once again emphasised that it is a centre of the new multi-polar world and will no longer be subdued by the US hegemony.
One crucial aspect was that India remained absent from the Shangri La dialogue, which harms its position as a pole power in the Indo-Pacific and it is more perplexing keeping in mind that India recently signed a major logistics agreement with Vietnam. The dialogue further brought Indo-Pacific to the heart of International order. As the French and American representatives to Shangri la said that Indo-Pacific would shape the 21st century and they consider it their responsibility as well. This probably came in response to India’s Foreign Minister Dr. S Jaishankar’s statement “That Europe's problems were the world's problems but world’s problems were not Europe’s problems.” The statement shows an intent of their commitment towards the Indo Pacific and of an overall peaceful world.
BY ANSH TYAGI