The US role in Asia-Pacific security and ties between regional superpowers China and India will dominate an annual security conference of defence ministers and top officials this weekend.
The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue—named after the Singapore hotel where it is held each year—begins on Friday, and will bring together delegates from 26 countries, including the US, India, China, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
“The security summit will help to shape the inter-governmental debate between the states of the Asia-Pacific and the major outside powers on the key security issues facing the region,” said a statement by the organizers, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
It has declined to reveal the names of those attending until the meeting starts. Issues to be addressed include US-Asia security relations, the impact of relations between India and China on international stability, nuclear proliferation, the dangers posed by fragile states, reforms in the security sector, progress in counter-terrorism and maritime security, and security cooperation in Asia.
The US has large security interests in the region because of its deep trade ties and billions of dollars worth of investments, and often holds regular military exercises with Asia-Pacific countries.
Defence relations between India and China, who fought a border war in 1962, have improved steadily in recent years.
Earlier this month, they decided to start periodic joint military training exercises even though their dispute over a 129,500sq. km area along their mountainous frontier remains unresolved.
But China’s growing military might and defence spending still worries other countries in the region, and the US.
China announced in March it would boost military spending by 17.8% in 2007 to 350.92 billion yuan ($44.94 billion, or Rs1.75 trillion). But a report by Pentagon estimated that real spending was two-three times higher.
India allocated Rs96,000 crore for defence spending for 2007-08, up from Rs89,000 crore last year.