SINGAPORE, June 5 (Xinhua) — Dialogue is obviously the consensus when defense chiefs from 27 countries in the Asia- Pacific region and beyond fielded questions on regional security and defense issues here at the multilateral Shangri-La Dialogue on Friday through Sunday.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, as the keynote speaker on the first day, said he believed the way ahead must be built on co- operation and not on confrontation and called on leaders and countries at the dialogue to play their part.
Najib said the world economies are becoming more and more integrated and interdependent, and the production processes are much more dispersed across borders.
“It no longer makes sense for global powers to go to war: they simply have too much to lose,” he said.
The Malaysian prime minister also said that the world should see the rise of China as a cause for optimism rather than concern. He also dismissed China’s growing military capacity as a cause for undue alarm, citing his experience with China.
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said interactions have been ever increasing among different countries.
Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith also said on Saturday that the region must continue to build habits of dialogue which help countries withstand and resolve serious tensions if and when they arise.
Practical military and defense cooperation — in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping training and operations, exercises and training and maritime security — will build habits of mutual respect, trust and cooperation amongst the militaries, he said.
Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie also took part in the informal multilateral conference for the first time this year, delivering a keynote speech on China’s pursuit of international security cooperation.
Liang also fielded questions, including those that bear on speculation about China’s strategy, after setting out the principles China upholds in international security cooperation and the efforts it has made.
Liang said that he was at the multilateral Shangri-La Dialogue to “advance peace, cooperation and harmony” and work with defense leaders from other countries to promote exchanges and mutual trust.
He said he achieved his goals over the past three days, meeting with about a dozen of his counterparts in bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the dialogue, including U.S. Secretary for Defense Robert Gates and Vietnamese Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh.
Liang said at the meeting that China has established consultation and dialogue mechanisms on defense and security with 22 countries, and has military-to-military exchanges with more than 150 countries. There are close to 400 military delegations to and from China each year.
China signed an agreement with Russia in 2009 to notify each other of missile launches. Between the defense ministries of China and the United States, direct phone link has also been set up.
“All these exchanges have helped the international community know better China’s strategic pursuits and (the current condition) of its military forces,” he said. “These efforts also help avoid various misunderstandings and mis-assessments and prevent conflicts and crises.”
Even Gates, who divided Asia into groups of allies and opponents or potential opponents, said the United States is improving its military presence in Asia, agreed that dialogue is important.
Gates reassured allies in the Asia Pacific on Saturday that it will maintain and enhance its strong presence in the region. The U. S. Navy and Air Force are working together to develop a new concept of operations called Air-Sea Battle — a concept that is clearly directed against China.
Nevertheless, he reiterated the principle of resolving conflict without the use of force and also acknowledged that Cold War turbulence has given way to new partnerships and cooperation in Asia.
He said that the United States and China are working together to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship, and that the military-to-military ties have steadily improved in recent months.
There is the security dialogue alongside the China-U.S. strategic and economic dialogue now.
“I think there is an opportunity in the future, I have belief for sometime that expanding this dialogue between us would be quite beneficial to both of us,” he said.