The dispute over South China Sea involved the dignity and “face” of all nations concerned, that if they are not careful, it could escalate into one of the “deadliest conflict” the world will know. The statement was made by Malaysia’s Minister for Defense Hishammuddin Hussein during the 14th Asia Security Summit IISS Shangri-La Dialogue – 3rd Plenary Session.
“It involves the dignity and ‘face’ of the nations involved. If we are not careful it would escalate into one of the deadliest conflict of our time, if not our history,” Mr Hishammuddin was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.
“Just because a region appears to be peaceful and prosperous doesn’t mean the prospects of conflict do not arise,” he warned.
Mr Hishammuddin called for all nations involved to take responsibility in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
“Inflamed rhetoric and mutual recrimination will do no country any good. It is perhaps too optimistic to believe that we can prevent conflict and its escalation all the time and every time,” he said.
He said that while nations have all the rights to behave in such a manner they deemed fit in their sovereign areas, each nation must be aware of the consequences of their decisions. “This world cannot afford another global conflict. This world cannot afford more uncertainty, instability, death and destruction.”
Dialogue and close cooperation in South China Sea
He said that nations should pursue peaceful resolution through dialogue and cooperation. He said similar disputes in the past were resolved by civil negotiations without any military interventions. He noted that the dispute over the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan between Malaysia and Indonesia was resolved harmoniously in the International Court of Justice. Diplomacy was also key in the resolution of the dispute over Pedra Banca between Malaysia and Singapore, he added.
“This issue requires a solution driven by mutual respect and trust. It will take time, but I am confident with patience, collective wisdom and a lot of courage, we will find a way forward,” Mr Hishammuddin said as quoted by Bernama News.
Mr Hishammuddin said that while nations “must be vigilant against sudden or unexpected incidents in the waters” the nations involved have also the obligation to uphold peace “not just for us in the present day, but for generations to come.”
Also read: World War III Brewing Over South China Sea
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