In his opening speech to national defence chiefs, international security experts from 40 countries, including Vietnam, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there is concern in the region that the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord would lead to Washington retreating from global leadership.
He said the region wants to see China take a more responsible leadership role, adding that Beijing could play a key role in reining in the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear and missile programmes.
On June 3, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis said in his keynote speech that the US can’t accept Chinese actions that impinge on the interests of the international community, undermining the rules-based order that has benefited all countries.
“We oppose countries militarising artificial islands and enforcing excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law. We can not and will not accept unilateral coercive changes to the status quo,” he said.
He affirmed that the US remains committed priority to Asia-Pacific where the country strives to develop ties with allies.
On efforts to counter the DPRK’s nuclear and missile development, he said the US will continue to increase diplomatic and economic pressure until Pyongyang finally and permanently abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
According to him, the Trump administration is encouraged by China’s renewed commitment to work with the international community towards denuclearisation.
About security challenges from the self-claimed Islamic State (IS), the US side remains committed to leading the Defeat ISIS Coalition effort, and partnering with countries in the region, including Malaysia and Indonesia, to improve information sharing.
Defence officials from the US, Japan and Australia shared the view that political and diplomatic engagements and respect to international law are key to ensuring regional security and prosperity.
Regarding the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), they agreed that the bloc holds an important role in the regional security architecture as well as in protecting the rules by law, while committing to work closely with ASEAN member countries in building strong and comprehensive security architecture with ASEAN’s centrality.
Organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the dialogue will be divided into five sessions, focusing on the US and Asia-Pacific security, maintenance of rules-based regional order, new challenges for crisis management in Asia-Pacific, building a common ground on regional security, threats to the global and regional security.