Correction: A previous version misidentified Germany’s defense minister. The minister’s name is Boris Pistorius.
SINGAPORE — The defense ministers of Germany and the United Kingdom have pledged to keep up their respective military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, while also outlining their plans for military deployments, at a regional security summit in Singapore.
Britain’s Ben Wallace and Germany’s Boris Pistorius were speaking at their respective plenaries during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an event organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies that ran June 2-4.
Wallace said that the Royal Navy will deploy another aircraft carrier and an accompanying strike group to the region in 2025, following a deployment of the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the region in 2021.
He also highlighted the permanent deployment of the offshore patrol vessels HMS Tamar and HMS Spey to the Indo-Pacific. Both vessels arrived in the region in 2021 and have since undertaken 16 port visits and 20 regional exercises.
The ships have also engaged in real-world missions such as sanctions monitoring in the East China Sea and disaster relief following a tsunami in Tonga.
Wallace also cited China’s “epoch-defining” rise as the biggest challenge for the region, warning that “none of our most fundamental global issues can be solved without engagement with China.”
“Be they climate change, energy and food security, economic stagnation, tech regulation, nuclear proliferation,” he said, “we must also speak plainly and acknowledge that there are also challenges from that ‘rise’ — illegal fishing, tensions in territorial waters, sovereignty disputes and debt diplomacy.”
For his part, Pistorius confirmed in his speech that Germany will send a frigate and a supply ship to the Indo-Pacific region in 2024. A German frigate made a similar deployment in 2021, while its Eurofighter multirole combat aircraft undertook a deployment to the region last year, taking part in a large-scale air combat exercise in Australia and visiting several other local countries.
He also urged respect of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and backed the principle of freedom of navigation, which “can and should be done via non-military means” to a large extent. As an example, he highlighted Germany’s participation in the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, an international agreement dubbed ReCAAP.
“Germany also stands ready to support all efforts to promote bilateral or multilateral confidence-building measures such as pre-notification of exercises, mutual invitation to participate in exercises, mutual site visits, inspections of military installations or arms control agreements,” Pistorius said, welcoming the Biden administration’s offer to enter into negotiations with Russia and China on nuclear arms control without preconditions.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.