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SIIA Director Nicholas Fang quoted on the challenges in signing a multilateral air code: The Straits Times

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18 Oct SIIA Director Nicholas Fang quoted on the challenges in signing a multilateral air code: The Straits Times

At the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) on 19 October 2018, defence ministers from the ten ASEAN nations agreed on the first multilateral air guidelines on engagement between military planes. At the ADMM+ meeting the following day, major powers such as the United States and China approved of the guidelines in principle, but did not formally come on board. Speaking to The Straits Times on 18 October, before the meeting, SIIA Director of Security and Global Affairs Nicholas Fang comments on the challenges involved in reaching such an agreement.

“It’s not just the calculus for US-China relationships that can have an impact, but also that between India and China, Japan and China, the US and Russia, just to name a few.

“However, the precedent and existing base of CUES for maritime encounters creates a useful basis on which to build a similar arrangement for the air,” said Mr Nicholas Fang, director for security and global affairs at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

A recent near-miss encounter between US and China warships in the South China Sea has also raised questions over the effectiveness of a non-binding naval code such as CUES, but analysts say these voluntary and mutually accepted guidelines are still important.

“(They) may not stop encounters entirely, but they do go some way in reducing the chances of miscalculation or mishap, by providing a baseline of norms to be respected and adhered to,” said Mr Fang.

“At the same time, it’s useful for discussion on such agreements to be carried out between all the stakeholders involved, on multilateral platforms such as the ADMM-Plus, to allow for increased mutual understanding and also the building of confidence among the parties involved.”

Full Article: Asean defence ministers expected to ink world’s first multilateral air code [The Straits Times, 18 Oct 2018]