“INTER-STATE relations and the establishment of friendship and cooperation has become of prime importance in a globalised world.”
This was underscored by Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, during his presentation on Regional Maritime Security: Cooperation and Challenges at the ‘Fifth Xiangshan Forum’, which concluded last Saturday. It focused on the prospects of regional security architecture to address the evolving security challenges in the Asia-Pacific while looking into strengthening cooperation in maritime security and countering terrorism.
The deputy minister also reiterated that the policy of cooperative defence and diplomacy has been an important dimension in regional and international relations as both have a common objective in reinforcing the fundamental notion and principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, while upholding peace, security and stability.
The three-day forum opened with a keynote address by General Chang Wanquan, State Councilor, Minister of National Defense, China who shared the three-point proposal for the maintenance of peace in the region. It also featured other prominent speakers including Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Defence Minister of Malaysia; Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Defence Singapore as well as Defence Ministers from Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Tajikistan and Maldives. Also at the forum were chiefs of defence forces, senior defence and military officials as well as renowned experts and academics in the field of defence and security.
The value of cooperation in defence diplomacy and defence cooperation lies in its actual practice of conflict prevention and collaborative efforts in dealing with non-traditional security issues.
Given the importance of the Asia-Pacific maritime area, the safety and security of sea lines of communications is crucial. The deputy minister reiterated Brunei’s recognition of the importance of promoting stability and cooperation in the maritime area through the establishment of direct communications and etiquettes or protocols for unplanned encounters at sea to help reduce tension and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation. In this regard, practical cooperation through the ADMM Plus and informal meeting between Asean-China Defence Ministers is pivotal in driving forward the priority of maritime security cooperation. The Xiangshan Forum established in 2006 is held biennially and organised by the Chinese Association for Military Science (CAMS). It serves as a platform for discussions among Track 2 defence scholars and experts in the Asia-Pacific region.
In recognising the changing security environment in the Asia-Pacific, this year, the forum is elevated into Track 1.5 bringing together defence ninisters, chiefs of defence forces and other senior defence and military officials to discuss regional defence and security issues.