Munich Security Conference to Feature New Faces from Asia Pacific

One of the world’s most exclusive security conferences kicks off on Friday at the ritzy Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich. Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly will reportedly attend the 60th Munich Security Conference, as will U.S. Vice President  Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and secretaries-general from NATO and the UN.

But it’s the conference’s newer recruits that signal a change in the event’s scope and priorities. Southeast Asia, typically underrepresented in Munich, will have “a hefty presence” this year, according to Politico. On Monday, the conference’s chairman said he was “very proud that we have succeeded in bringing more and more representatives from Asia . . . to Munich."

Singapore’s defence minister, Ng Eng Hen, and the foreign minister of Myanmar’s overthrown democratic government, Zin Mar Aung, will appear at the conference, and more high-profile delegates from the Asia Pacific, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, are expected.

The view from Munich

The forum’s weighty annual report was released on Monday. The document notes the increasingly delicate dance of “multi-alignment” for Indo-Pacific countries caught between Washington and Beijing and argues, for example, that “de-risking semiconductor supply chains” away from China is sensible.

Wars between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas are set to command most of the delegates’ attention, but AUKUS, hostilities in the South China Sea, and tensions around Taiwan will also likely make the agenda.

Packed schedule awaits Joly

In 2022, Joly formally engaged with only one Asia Pacific partner, Singapore, at the conference, alongside ‘bilats’ with Finland, Portugal, the U.K., and others.

At last year’s conference, Joly participated in a panel on Indo-Pacific security, highlighting Canada’s own Indo-Pacific Strategy, and issued a statement with other female foreign ministers from countries including Mongolia, France, and Germany.