Unsure of U.S., Asia builds new alliances to counter China

Ajustar Comentario Impresión

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that he expects the Trump Administration will realize continued engagement in the Indo-Pacific region is in the interest of the USA, during a speech at an annual regional security summit in Singapore.

Turnbull also urged Beijing to help bring North Korea "to its senses" and exercise its influence over Pyongyang.

"China has gained the most from the peace and harmony in our region, and consequently it has the most to lose if it is threatened", he said.

On his part, Mr Turnbull said earlier in the day after visiting the Botanic Gardens: "The relationships between Australia and Singapore get closer all the time".

The speech has been praised by many in the audience, with Dzirhan Mahadzir, a delegate from Malaysia, telling Defense News he felt that Turnbull "balanced his thoughts pretty well by getting point across without being too provocative, delivering a message to China that working with the worldwide system and respecting the rules would benefit them far greater than their current approach of running roughshod over everyone".

But in a clear nod to U.S. concerns that allies and partners need to do more, Mr Turnbull told the Shangri-La Dialogue that the region needed to "find new sources of leadership to help the United States shape our common good". "It is vitally important that China respects the rule of law and respects the principal that might is not right".

Australia's normally steadfast relationship with the USA suffered a jolt in January when Trump abruptly ended a phone call with Turnbull, telling the prime minister he had spoken to four other global leaders that day and "this was the worst call by far".

Meeting with Turnbull in NY last month, Trump tried to brush the spat aside.

Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) chief David Koh, who signed the agreement with Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Dr Tobias Feakin, said the MOU demonstrates both nation's commitment to work together to build a secure and resilient cyberspace.

"Our alliance is stronger than ever", Turnbull said Thursday. "Visa arrangements that enable us to have more engagement of businesses, Australian businesses operating here, Singaporean businesses operating in Australia", Mr Turnbull added.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is scheduled to speak to the conference Saturday as US allies in the region will be looking for clear signals about America's regional security goals under Trump. It will last for two years.

"We have every confidence in the confidentiality of the intelligence we share", Turnbull said.

As the Philippines military continues to battle the IS-affiliated Maute group in Marawi spurring fears of a developing extremist hub in the region, Turnbull said the threat of extremists is no longer "far away".