Aims and Ambitions; The Asia-Pacific Roundtable: How it Works; IISS Shangri-La Dialogue; Xiangshan Forum: Defence Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics; Jakarta International Defence Dialogue; Seoul Defense Dialogue: A Forum for Northeast Asia; A New Form of Defence Diplomacy; Security Dialogues and Practical Cooperation; Conclusion

From the perspective of 2017, it seems remarkable that one reason cited in a seminal 1994 article for Asia being at serious risk of war was the absence of multilateral forums, where pressing security issues could be debated and discussed. Today, by contrast, the region has almost a surfeit of regional security dialogues and rather than lamenting a lack of opportunities to talk, the complaints are more likely to be about institutional overload or dialogue fatigue.

Alongside the dense network of inter-governmental institutions, which are largely organised by and as extensions of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) process and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) – the last decade and a half has seen the steady proliferation of a number of regional security dialogues convened outside the ASEAN framework. As well as the oldest ‘Track-2’ dialogue, the Malaysia-based Asia-Pacific Roundtable (APR), which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016, some of the more notable creations include: The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD, first organised in 2002), China’s Xiangshan Forum (2006), the Jakarta International Defence Dialogue (JIDD, 2011), the Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD, 2012) and India’s Raisina Dialogue, which first convened in 2016.

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