Britain and the four Asian members of the Commonwealth announced efforts to expand and reactivate the Five Powers of Defense (FPDA), a 51-year-old series of mutual aid agreements involving the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the UK Is.
At its core, the agreement commits members to consult with each other in the event or threat of armed attack on any member of the FPDA and to decide what measures should be taken jointly or separately. The military has no specific obligation to intervene.
This agreement was established in 1971 after the termination of the defense guarantee of the United Kingdom, then known as Malaya.
The issue came up during the breakfast meeting of the five power defense ministers’ meeting – the main body of the FPDA – on the sidelines of the three-day Shangri-La talks that concluded in Singapore on Sunday.
Singapore’s Ministry of Defense said, “At the FDMM, the Ministers discussed ways to deepen existing cooperation in traditional domains, as well as ways to enhance cooperation in non-traditional and emerging domains, to ensure that the FPDA is contemporary. Remain relevant in addressing security challenges.” a statement.
“The FDMM also discussed the important role of the FPDA in building trust, promoting a rules-based international order and providing assurance amid an environment of heightened geopolitical tensions,” it said.
Malaysia’s senior defense minister Hishamuddin Hussein told the meeting that his “biggest concern is unforeseen incidents and accidents that could spiral out of control and make it bigger.”
Although he did not name any countries, the most immediate security threats in the region include a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan and an accident involving North Korean nuclear missiles.
“If this platform [such as the FPDA] Were there not to exist, there would be no opportunity to manage incidents that sometimes spiral out of control,” Hussain said.
In addition to Hussein, participants in the meeting included Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Ing Hein, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles, New Zealand’s Defense Minister Penny Henare and British High Commissioner to Singapore Kara Owen. All five reaffirmed their commitment to the FPDA.
“Australia remains fully committed to the FPDA,” Marles told reporters at the venue. “It’s not something we take for granted.”
Marles also said that the FPDA is looking at ways to work together to improve maritime security and counter terrorism, as well as deal with humanitarian issues and protect supply chains.
“These are all areas in which we can work to give modern relevance to the FPDA, which we are really keen to do,” he said.
Renewed interest in the FPDA follows the establishment of the Quad in 2007 – an informal security dialogue involving Australia, India, Japan and the United States – and a 2021 security agreement between AUKUS, the United States, Britain and Australia.
Despite those new arrangements, Marles said the FPDA remains relevant because it is “based on 50 years of history.”
“Ocus and Quad have their roles to play, and we are clearly committed to that architecture as well, but something that is sustainable as an FPDA is really precious to Australia.”
The Defense Ministry of Singapore said that the FPDA will continue to promote regional cooperation and make a constructive contribution to the regional security architecture through regular exercises, dialogues and platforms for professional interaction.
In addition to the Taiwan and North Korean nuclear threat, concerns remain about China’s broad claim to jurisdiction over much of the South China Sea in the region.
“Indeed, the contemporary context of the FPDA leads to the South China Sea, where China is rubbing against Malaysia’s offshore claims, raising the possibility that external aggression and conventional warfare may recur again in Southeast Asia. ,” Euan Graham wrote Shangri-La. Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore.
“As the Powers cast five watchful eyes over the next 50 years, it is not clear that their long-term vision is aligned,” Graham wrote on the Shangri-La Dialogue website.