HANOI, Dec 7 – Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong has just concluded a one-day speaking tour to Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday 5th December 2019 at the invitation of Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP). ASEAN security cooperation and Defence White Paper were discussed.
Liew delivered the opening speech for the 12th CSCAP General Conference themed “Sustaining Peace in Time of Uncertainties: Toward Greater Regional Resilience and Responsiveness” while Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dzung delivered a keynote speech alongside.
In his speech, Liew half-jokingly urged CSCAP to keep its “Asia Pacific” name and not to change it to “Indo Pacific”.
“The role of ASEAN is to bring United States and China back to the middle and to avoid the divide between the superpowers to widen”.
“While ASEAN noted that US has chosen to see China as a strategic competition, ASEAN will need to actively pursue peace, ensure that both superpowers do not miscalculate, and to help China to understand the region better thus not causing anxieties to the small states in the region.”
Defence cooperation between ‘aspiring middle powers’
Liew noted that both Malaysia and Vietnam are “aspiring middle powers” with important missions in 2020: Malaysia hosting Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Vietnam chairing ASEAN, as well as being elected to United Nations Security Council.
“Both Malaysia and Vietnam are littoral states around South China Sea, which should see closer and enhanced foreign and defence cooperation in face of challenges ahead.”
Liew paid a courtesy call to his counterpart Vice Minister of National Defence and Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Phan Văn Giang and congratulated Vietnam for the 75th anniversary of the formation of Vietnam People’s Army.
They exchanged views on the regional security situations.
Defence White Paper discussed
Vietnam published its Defence White Paper on 25th November and Malaysia’s Defence Minister Mat Sabu presented the inaugural Defence White Paper to Parliament on 2nd December.
Liew and General Phan exchanged views about the two White Papers.
Liew also had an engaging session with Vietnam’s defence thinkers at Institute for Defence International Relations (IDIR), Ministry of National Defence.