Regional meeting wraps in Thailand . . .
The annual ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus wrapped up in Bangkok yesterday. The meeting was attended by defence ministers from the U.S., China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. Unlike the ASEAN Regional Forum or the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, ADMM provides a closed-door, media-free venue for defence ministers to constructively consult each other on bilateral and multilateral issues. As highlighted by the Singaporean defence minister, the meeting aims “to build confidence, if not trust.”
Meeting outcomes . . .
The key takeaway of the meeting was the advancement of partnerships among militaries for sustainable security, including increasing military exchanges around counter-terrorism and maritime security. US Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper did some damage control with ASEAN members following the non-attendance of President Trump at the earlier ASEAN Summit, and encouraged the Japan-South Korean defence ministers to renew their military intelligence sharing pact, which is set to expire on Saturday.
Shuffling the security deck . . .
With China, the U.S., Japan (and even Taiwan) all aiming to increase economic and security integration with Southeast Asia, ASEAN is being given new life and is showing signs that its desire to engage major powers on its own terms remains alive and well despite changing geostrategic competitions. The meeting resulted in agreements to mount ASEAN maritime exercises separately with the U.S and China. China is hosting a joint-counter terrorism exercise, which involves 800 personnel and 10 aircraft from ADMM Plus members. With a general dearth of Canadian engagement on Asian regional security issues, the ADMM Plus could serve as an important mechanism for Canada to engage with allied ASEAN members, as well as China.
- Bangkok Post: Government nails down ‘vision’ with US
- The Strait Times: Key to build trust among ADMM-Plus militaries
- Xinhua News: ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting – Plus wraps up in Thailand