Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence Tea Banh is leading a delegation of senior Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) members to an Asian security summit in Singapore.

The 20th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue on June 2-4 is being organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

“The Cambodian delegation is attending the meeting at the invitation of John Chipman, director-general of the IISS,” said a defence ministry press release.

The conference will be an opportunity for military leaders from across the Indo-Pacific region, along with global powers like the US and China.

The ministry explained that plenary sessions will be held on several topics, including Indo-Pacific issues, new partnerships, security development models, cybersecurity, military capacity development and maintaining balance in the region.

Tea Banh will address the 7th plenary session on “Developing models for cooperative security’ on June 4, with a focus on the challenges that can occur as a result of rapid regional military development, as well as the fact that new defence capabilities can also play a role in balancing regional stability.

He will also hold bilateral meetings with the defence ministers of several nations, including Australia, Singapore and China, as well as with dignitaries from across the region.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin will also hold a joint meeting with several ASEAN defence ministers during the summit.

The Shangri-La Dialogue is the only Asia defence summit that brings together regional defence ministers to discuss security challenges, including rising tensions in the region. The summit is an opportunity to hold bilateral talks which aim to develop new approaches to address emerging challenges.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that the summit is an important forum within the regional security sector. “It will bring together leaders and intellectuals from the region and several major powers,” he said.

He added that the forum could play an important role in devising solutions that would assist in meeting the goal of ensuring peace and stability. However, he feared that the summit could also be used as a platform to attack each other and provoke security concerns, which could lead to instability in the region.

“Cambodia has always adopted a pacifist position and wants to see regional and global stability. Small nations like the Kingdom do not want to see competition that could endanger regional security and stability,” he added.

He said competition for influence between China and the US could become a heated topic at the 20th defence summit, especially for Southeast Asian nations.

“In addition, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, certain maritime and territorial claims and non-traditional issues – such as the climate crisis, immigration and terrorism – may also be on the agenda,” he said.