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CWA # 48, 31 July 2018

Global Politics
FactSheet: Shangri La Dialogue 2018

  Druta Bhatt

Druta Bhatt is a student at the School of Liberal studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University. She was an intern earlier at the NIAS.

The Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) is an inter-governmental security forum held annually by an independent think tank, IISS which is attended by defense ministers, permanent heads of ministries and military chiefs of Asia-Pacific states. The Shangri-La Dialogue was conceived by the current IISS Director-General and Chief Executive Sir John Chipman in 2001 in response to the clear need for a forum where the Asia Pacific defense ministers could engage in dialogue aimed at building confidence and fostering practical security cooperation. During the 36th Munich Conference on Security Policy, Chipman 'noticed Asian officials receiving short shrift' and realized that 'Asia needed its own defense institution at which defense ministers met and spoke'

In June 2018, the IISS held the dialogue in Singapore.

Participating Countries: Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, the United States and Vietnam.



The summit had the following as the main agenda:

  • US leadership and the challenges of Indo-Pacific security
  • De-escalating the North Korean crisis
  • Shaping Asia's evolving security order
  • New dimensions of terrorism and counter-terrorism
  • Raising the bar for regional security cooperation


Key issues discussed

The key issues discussed as part of the agenda focused on traditional and modern security challenges faced by the Asian countries. The main actors in the discussions were US, India, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, France and UK



The United States

  1. Marked the formal inauguration of “Indo – Pacific era”
  2. U.S. believes in the concept of free and open Indo Pacific Strategy (FOIP)
  3. U.S. condemned China’s weaponization of islands in South China Sea through the deployment of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missile, electronic jamming equipment and long-range bombers
  4. US saw a “fundamental disconnect” between China’s maritime activities and the International Law
  5. U.S. Navy’s freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) was defended as an international public good. “America is in the Indo Pacific to stay”. Trump’s isolationist policy will not hold true in the South China Sea.
  6. Indo-Pacific strategy is underpinned by tangible “security, economic, and development investments”, including the replacement of third-generation fighters with fifth-generation aircraft, while augmenting “most capable ships” in the Indo-Pacific Command’s fleet.
  7. There was lack of clarity on the extent of U.S. intervention in stopping Chinese coercion and on specific basis, with allies like Philippines about whether U.S. will come to rescue in times of violent conflict with China on South China Sea


  1. Underlined the importance of South Asian powerhouse
  2. India sees the Indo Pacific as a “natural region” and believes that it should be “free, open, and inclusive”; grounded in “rules and norms… based on the consent of all, not on the power of    the few”; and characterized by the respect for international law, including on the issue of freedom of navigation and overflight.
  3. India promoted a democratic order in the Indo-Pacific with ASEAN at its heart, that allows free access to common spaces and is not limited to a ‘club of limited members’


  1. Indo Pacific is described as the perennial “non-aligned” power at the heart of ASEAN. 
  2. In Jakarta’s view, ASEAN should remain at the heart of the conceptualization, preservation and evolution of the Indo-Pacific theatre. And it is the regional body’s values that should continue to guide the interaction among major powers.
  3. Jakarta’s own version of the Indo-Pacific concept advocated an “open, transparent and inclusive” order that promoted “the habit of dialogue, promoting cooperation and friendship, and upholding the international law”.

France & UK

Accepted their commitment towards maintaining status quo and announced their own FONOPs in the South China Sea.


China’s foreign minister Wang Yi had earlier dismissed the “Indo-Pacific” as an “attention-grabbing idea” that will “dissipate like ocean foam.” He also expressed hope that the Quad was not targeting China.



Conversation on

  • An evolving threat like lone wolfs, sleeper cells, use of social media, increased use of technology, sophisticated method of recruitment and operations
  • Varying counterterrorism responses among states. One of these was government officials reinforcing the need for a more comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to counter the terrorist threat. 
  • Officials highlighted some of the current initiatives and future endeavours in this respect.
  • Challenges in the various approaches were discussed


India believes that "In the coming times, dealing with cyber security and extremism and terrorism will be important areas of our cooperation."


Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, in his remarks at the SLD, characterized this as a “third generation threat” of terrorism and radicalism following the post-Al-Qaeda generation and the post-Islamic State (or Daesh) generation.


Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, touched on the need for responses in various areas including reforming the educational curriculum in Islamic schools, working with the private sector to manage content that could be tied to terrorist attacks, and monitoring the entry of clerics from other countries that might spread the kind of hateful rhetoric that might draw recruits into terrorism.


Proposed a “Resilience, Response, and Recovery” framework for counterterrorism which epitomizes such a comprehensive approach Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen announced that Singapore would be hosting a Track 1.5 counterterrorism symposium in October and was also working to build a network of experts to counter chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) threats via the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) framework.




  1. Highlighted the importance of “platforms for discussion” so that trust can be built, cooperation can be facilitated and the chance of miscalculation between countries is reduced. There is an inaugural Singapore International Cyber Week, which we will be organized from the 10–12 October this year in Singapore
  2. Aimed for fair and inclusive rules of the road, such as agreeing on how best to manage or govern the internet that is used by everyone in this world. It is a global commons
  3. Singapore plays a facilitating role as the voluntary lead shepherd under the auspices of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime and, on a global front, Singapore hosts the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation


  1. There is a growing awareness in India that international cooperation is very, very important for securing the cyberspace.
  2. India advocates sharing cyber-security best practices, sharing information on malicious threats, attacks and activities through a network of servers around the world, and India is signing a number of agreements in that regard, focusing on research and development (R&D) and cyber-security product development in close cooperation with partner countries
  3. Cooperation in cyber-security capacity-building. India plans to create a pool of 500,000 cyber-security professionals in the country in the next five years to serve as a bulwark for global cyber-security effort
  4. India is also involved in building frameworks of close cooperation between law-enforcement agencies and institutions, including finding better ways to deal with challenges such as accessing and sharing electronic evidence located beyond our territory to address cyber-crime issues…mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) arrangements that cater to this are clearly inadequate, and there is a requirement for tweaking it and using innovative ways to create a system that can provide an effective response to this problem.
  5. At the broader international level, India favours promoting a culture of restraint through building norms of responsible state behaviour and confidence-building measures (CBMs). India has upscaled participation in processes like ICANN, IGF, UN-GGIM.”


  1. First is to secure net users’ rights. Worldwide, the violations of IP and personal privacy have become a social disaster. 
  2. China is willing to work together with the international community to increase financial and technical support for developing countries and to further build up the infrastructure of IT
  3. China respects the rights of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber development, cyber regulation model, cyber public policies. China will not engage in cyber hegemony, will not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs. Cyberspace is the common space of activities for mankind. 

The US

  1. The US proposed towards, “genuine commitment to international law-enforcement assistance, whether under mutual legal assistance treaties or other bilateral and multilateral fora, whether it is Interpol or others
  2. Understands a need for building a security architecture that is transparent, universal and enforceable
  3. No country would voluntarily forgo any offensive cyber capabilities. Rather more practical is to “protect civilians and civilians’ infrastructures rather than looking to prohibit the proliferation of capabilities or the use of those capabilities under any circumstances, particularly because it would be technically so difficult to limit such proliferation
  4. ” Perfect information security is nigh impossible.” A transnational law should be pursued and followed. 


  1. Cyber has rapidly evolved even in just the last few years from becoming a logical threat to a completely physical threat.
  2. The cyber or digital threat is much more difficult to handle than other threats like atomic or chemical because the D – threat has no sovereignty. 



Republic of Korea

Through serious dialogues, the Republic of Korea has taken the first step towards denuclearization”.


The Japanese were happy that 2 concerns that were most bothering it, China in South China Sea and the Korean peninsula crisis were given due importance. But they were disappointed about the non-strict actions without “maximum power” being asserted.




  1. The rule-based order that is formed post world war 2 should not be broken. All countries, despite regional or domestic politics, should uphold the international rules
  2. As the ASEAN and ADMM Chair this year, Singapore has sought to raise the bar on regional security cooperation through counter-terrorism (CT), confidence-building measures, and building chemical, biological, and radiological (CBR) expertise.
  3. ASEAN-China Code of Conduct on the South China Sea as well as the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise, which will take place later this year are key to ASEAN's efforts to strengthen the regional security 


  1. France supported a set of laws for conduct in the South China Sea that would be legally binding, effective and consistent with the international law.
  2. France has begun to send ships in the South China Sea to support the rule-based order.

United Kingdom

  1. Increasingly aggressive threats… infringing regional access, freedoms and security through coercion are threats to the rule-based order.
  2. Following France, British helicopters and ships are also being mobilized at the South China Sea.


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