‘Witnessing new convergence around nearly all aspects of security in Indo-Pacific’: US Defence Secy Austin – Times of India

SINGAPORE: The United States Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin hailed the beginning of a “new convergence” in the Indo-Pacific as the US strengthens security and strategic alliances in the region in the face of growing challenges from Russia and China.
“Today, we are witnessing a new convergence around nearly all aspects of security in the Indo-Pacific,” the US Defence Secretary said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on Saturday.
“This new convergence is producing a stronger, more resilient, and more capable network of partnerships. And that is defining a new era of security in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.
According to Austin, the new convergence is “a set of overlapping and complementary initiatives and institutions, driven by both a shared vision and a shared sense of mutual obligation,” rather than “a single alliance or coalition,” CNN reported.
He claimed that convergence is about shared values and ideas, such as “the peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue – not coercion or conflict,” rather than “imposing one country’s will” or “bullying or coercion.”
The comment seemed to be a veiled attack to China’s military exercises conducted last week surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing claimed was a “severe punishment” for the self-governing island’s “separatist acts,” reported CNN.
Only a few days had passed since Taiwan’s new democratically elected leader, Lai Ching-te, took office and demanded that Beijing stop its intimidation tactics.
According to Austin, the US has made “historic progress” during the last three years thanks to the new convergence.
“We’ve strengthened stability on the Korean Peninsula. We’ve supported the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. And we’ve stood up for the rule of law in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon Chief said.
On Saturday, Austin mentioned the meeting with China’s Minister of National Defense Adm. Dong Jun in his speech, stating they had a “frank discussion.”
“There is no substitute for direct military-to-military talks between senior leaders. And there’s no substitute for open lines of communication to avoid misunderstandings and miscalculations,” he said.
The Shangri La Dialogue kicked off on May 31 and will go on till June 2.
It is a “Track One” inter-governmental security conference held annually in Singapore by an independent think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

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