SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has called for patience in solving disputes over the South China Sea, following the strong conflicting statements made by the United States and China about the longstanding territorial conflict.
United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter warned that China’s island building in disputed waters was undermining security in the region. He also called for an immediate halt to land reclamation by all claimants.
China and Taiwan, as well as South-east Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines have all laid claim to areas within the sea.
Speaking to media at the Shangri-La Dialgoue on Saturday (May 30), Dr Ng said he was encouraged by the level and tone of dialogue among defence minsters but admitted the “glacial speed” of negotiations.
“We recognise the difficulties but here is my pitch. Let us not get frustrated by the process; let us recognise that it will be difficult. These dispute claims have gone on for long time,” he said. “We ought to be patient about this because the alternative is much worse. We are finding ways forward, not as quick as others want, but at least we are talking.”