VIETNAM WILL turn the spotlight on escalating militarisation in the contested South China Sea this weekend in Singapore as security officials from around the world gather to discuss international cooperation at the Shangri-La Dialogue 2018.
The Vietnamese delegation is led by Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, who will address the third session, focusing on the changing security order in Asia, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reports.
The delegation would express its concern at military operations in the South China Sea and promote a mechanism for cooperation in resolving disputes and regional conflicts by peaceful means on the basis of international law, said a Vietnam delegation official.
Vietnam is among several Asean member states who are at loggerheads with China over territorial disputes in the sea. Hanoi has for years voiced concerns over militarisation in the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands, where China has built fortresses and reportedly installed missiles.
The three-day security and defence conference, held annually at the Shangri-La hotel since 2002, will also focus on nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula, as Singapore prepares to host a summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un on June 12.
The Shangri-La meeting features five sessions: on US leadership and the challenges of Indo-Pacific security; de-escalating the crisis in North Korea; shaping new dimensions of terrorism and counter-terrorism; and raising the bar for regional security co-operation.
The event also features side sessions covering such issues as new strategic technologies and the future of conflict, maritime security enhancement, strategic implications of military capability development in the Asia-Pacific and the management of competition in regional security cooperation.
US Defence Minister James Mattis will join the dialogue to offer his view on global and regional security matters.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, is attending the Shangri-La Dialogue for the first time, as his country seeks to carve a role in Indo-Pacific security arrangements.
New Delhi and Hanoi have forged closer ties in recent years as a balance against the rise of China’s influence in the region.
The Vietnam News Agency hailed the Shangri-La meet as a good opportunity for Hanoi to voice its views on regional security issues relating to “legitimate” national interests, towards achieving peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.