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South China Sea issues seen likely to flare up at Asia Security Summit

ROC Central News Agency

2016/06/01 22:35:58

Singapore, June 1 (CNA) Defense ministers and professionals from the Asia-Pacific region are expected to engage in heated debates on South China Sea issues at the 2016 Asia Security Summit that will kick off in Singapore June 3, experts said Wednesday.

Cheng Yu-chin, director of the EU-China Economics and Politics Institute in Prague, Czech Republic, said the summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, has changed from a forum for dialogue into an arena for high-stake players in national and regional security.

China has beefed up its armed forces and integrated its power-projecting capabilities in an attempt to lead the establishment of international order in the South China Sea, Cheng said.

Despite the U.S.' military moves in the area, China has raised its voice in asserting its sovereignty claims over the South China Sea, which has signaled a "powder-keg" ahead of the three-day summit in Singapore, Cheng said.

Rather than retreating from China's aggressive posturing, the U.S. has been helping its allies around the South China Sea to make their sovereignty claims through international arbitration and has been boosting military cooperation with China's rival claimants, he said.

Huang Hui-hua, an assistant research fellow at the Taipei-based Taiwan Brain Trust, said Japan has been seeking to enter into strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian countries to counter China's suspected plan to use its military and economic might to obstruct freedom of passage in the disputed area.

Japan has amended its weapons exports and defense and security laws in an effort to boost military cooperation with the Philippines, Vietnam and India, she noted.

In fact, Japan stepped up its intervention in the South China Sea following a series of China-Philippines conflicts over the Scarborough Shoal, in an evident move to work with China's rivals in the South China Sea to thwart China, said Yang Yu-sheng, a military affairs expert.

The three-day summit in Singapore will discuss, among others topics, "managing military competition in Asia" and "managing South China Sea tensions." The participants will also try to identify "common security interests in the cyber-domain."

(By Huang Tzu-chiang and S.C. Chang)

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