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China calls for crisis management at a high-end dialogue

Updated: 2014-11-21 19:30
By ZHANG YUNBI (chinadaily.com.cn)

China proposed that disputes in the Asia-Pacific region be tackled by "an efficient crisis management and control mechanism" at a major defense policy forum held in Beijing, a move that won widespread acclaim from military chiefs and leading defense specialists in the region.

A liaison system had yet to be put in place to help the economically dynamic area tackle looming geopolitical concerns and the proposal would help resolve this, they said.

In an address to the fifth Xiangshan Forum, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan announced that that China held 2,000 talks or meetings last year with neighbors on boundary issues.

China seeks to further enhance dispute management procedures, boost defense cooperation and "strengthen the regional security architecture", Chang said in a three-point proposal.

Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen endorsed Chang's proposals, and he underscored the necessity of building a "security framework" covering Asia to establish meetings and cool any potential mounting tension.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein voiced support for Chang's proposal, adding that communicating channels are expected to be built between the Southeast Asia members and major countries.

Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the PLA Navy, said the Asia-Pacific region is "the only region in the world that still suffers from the looming wound of the Cold War", and a security mechanism has yet to be established such as what Europe has done.

The forum has provided a platform that "transcends different ideologies and involves all the regional stakeholders", Yin said.

Some Western analysts have long speculated that the China-led dialogue was upgraded from a biennial event to an annual one earlier this year to steal the thunder from the Singapore-based Shangri-La Dialogue.

Yet Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told the Friday plenary session that more opportunities for dialogue should be given to high-ranking military officials in the region, and meetings such as the Xiangshan Forum help keep areas of tension from spiraling out of control.

Zhang Tuosheng, director of the Department of Research under the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said China is a major player in the region, and "such platforms do not conflict with each other because they are working in concert to shape a safer region".

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies said changing mindsets is important and "it may take quite a long time to shape a strong and popular belief of win-win cooperation".

Chang, the defense ministry chief, also dismissed any connection between China's justified defense budget growth and the alleged "growing assertiveness" of China.

Military modernization "serves China's practical need to secure its own borders" as its vast territory has placed the Chinese military under pressure in securing the country and its border areas, Chang said.

Andrei Kokoshin, Director of the Institute for International Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and former secretary of Security Council of Russia, said the modernizing of People's Liberation Army "is playing a positive role in boosting regional security and stability".

Chang reminded the audience that "to defend our own security is a most direct contribution to security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region".


- First held in 2006 and previously held as a biennial event, the forum has been upgraded as an annual one this year.

- Around 300 delegates from 47 countries and four international organizations attend the forum this year.

- The theme this year is "Cooperation and Win-Win, build an Asian Community of Common Destiny".

- The three-day event from Thursday to Saturday discusses regional security, maritime security and anti-terrorism cooperation.

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