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US Security Policy in Spotlight at Annual Asia Defense Summit

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U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis Arrives to speak at the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 3, 2017.
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SINGAPORE
Questions about the U.S. commitment to the Asian region will be a key focus as the Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis attends the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this weekend.

In recent years, the annual meeting has been an opportunity for typically in countries in the region to voice frustrations and Concerns About China – be it Beijing’s building artificial island in the South China Sea or Territorial Claims. This year, would, however, Washington May be getting most of the attention, Analysts said.

President Donald Trump’s announcement this week That the US should exit to the Paris climate change agreement, along with other campaign trail and policy follow-through, are not only raising Concerns about the environment and free trade agreements, but also Spilli over into the security arena as well.

Mattis seems well-PREPARED to assure allies and others in the region That Washington Will not turn its back on Asia. He is leading a delegation to the robust regional security forum in Singapore and spending Nearly three days in the island nation.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis speaks at the 16th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 3, 2017.
Region looking for CLARITY

His attendance at the meeting is a first for the Trump Administration, and delegates at the meeting will be looking for Clarity and assurances about the U.S. commitment to the Asian Pacific.

“In the Asia Pacific is probably one of the fastest growing regions in terms of military spending and development of military capability we’re not seeing very definitive statements from the new administration in terms of what is on their approach is the defense and security in this part of the world, “said William Choong, a Senior Fellow at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

En route to the meeting, Mattis said he would emphasize the Need for “international order” in the region.

“At the Shangri-La Dialogue, I will emphasize the United States stands with our Asia-Pacific allies and partners, Reinforcing the International Order NECESSARY to secure a peaceful, prosperous and free Asia with the greatest respect for all nations and International Law,” Mattis said .

FILE – Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull comments on a deal with the United States accepting refugees from Australia at Parliament House in Canberra, Jan. 30, 2017.
Questions and Concerns

North Korea is also likely to get its fair share of attention During the meeting a topic Trump has made a key focus. But given the U.S. president’s about-face over the Paris climate change agreement, the Decision to dump the TPP and calls to renegotiate NAFTA, Concerns about Washington’s global leadership are growing.

And Because of That, Mattis has his work cut out for him at the forum, Analysts said.

“Many are looking for the CLARITY Ministers from Washington in terms of how is Washington going to manage the South China Sea issue. We have not heard a lot from Washington at this point, “Choong said.

In an address Late Friday evening, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke about Those Specific Concerns and growing questions.

“Some have been concerns that the withdrawal from the TPP and now from the Paris Herald a climate change agreement Withdraw from the U.S. Global Leadership,” Turnbull said in his opening remarks and keynote address at the Forum.

“While These Decisions are disappointing, we should take care not to rush to interpret an intent to engage a Different terms as one not to engage at all,” he said.

No clear policy in Asia

The Trump Administration has yet to make it clear its policy toward Asia, but it has been sending high-ranking Officials regularly to the region. Trump plans to attend the East Asia Summit later this year.

U.S. Officials have noted the Administration’s desire to be Engaged and active in Asia, to work on free trade issues and the threat of North Korea. What the Trump Administration has said it will not do is Adopt the phrasing used by the previous administration or “Rebalance to Asia.”

Whether That continues under some other name or something BECOMES Entirely Different, Remains To Be Seen, Analysts said.

South China Sea Islands

Over the past few years, China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea has been a key focus of attention at the meeting. While the issue is likely to get less attention this year, it will still come up Whether Beijing likes it or not, said Tim Huxley, executive director at the IISS Asia.

“Clearly it is lower profile, but That does not Mean That The South China Sea is quiet this year,” Huxley said. “I think the Chinese would like us to believe that it is quiet, but Actually all the time they are continuing on their Efforts construction there.