Security in Asia and the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2023

After 18 years of negotiations, Malaysia and Indonesia signed agreements ending long-standing maritime border disputes. The treaties concern the separation of the territorial seas in parts of the Strait of Malacca and the Celebes Sea. Both countries also pledged to strengthen cooperation against European Union initiatives that limit the use of palm oil – in 2023, and the EU introduced a law banning the import of goods related to deforestation. Other pacts signed relate to improving border crossings and trade, promoting investment, and protecting Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.

Amid growing geopolitical tensions in the Pacific, the Fijian authorities are considering upholding the 2011 security agreement with China. The police cooperation agreement allowed the stationing of Chinese police officers in Fiji, and in 2013 it was extended to include military cooperation. At the same time, Fiji is finalising a defence treaty with New Zealand.

The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Asian Security Forum was held in Singapore. One of the leitmotifs of the meeting was the growing tension between the US and China and the lack of substantive communication between the two sides, which raises concerns in the region. “As many ministers have stated, a war in Europe and Asia simultaneously is a global disaster,” said Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen. In turn, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto presented a favourable Russian peace plan to end the war in Ukraine. Representatives of the EU and Germany immediately criticised it.

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