The 15th Founding Anniversary of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) was commemorated at the 15th ADMM and 8th ADMM-Plus, which was held virtually on 15-16 June 2021.
During the 15th ADMM, nine (9) new initiatives and documents were approved, adopted, and noted by the ASEAN Defense Ministers. Notably, as co-authors, the Philippines and Singapore endorsed the Concept Paper on the ADMM’s External Engagements, which reaffirms the ASEAN Centrality within the ADMM and the ADMM-Plus regarding engagements with ASEAN’s friends and Dialogue Partners. The ADMM Leaders adopted the “Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration in Commemoration of the 15th Anniversary of the ADMM Towards a Future-Ready, Peaceful and Prosperous ASEAN”, which reaffirms the ADMM’s commitment to continue progress in defense and security practical cooperation. Furthermore, the ADMM noted the Post-Implementation Review (PIR) of the Annualization of the ADMM-Plus and agreed to continue the annual conduct of the ADMM-Plus.
At the sidelines of the 15th ADMM, the ASEAN Defense Ministers met with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe during the ASEAN-China Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting on 15 June 2021. The meeting highlighted the 30 years of ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership. The Philippines, as the Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership from 2018 to 2021, expressed its appreciation to China for organizing several important initiatives and proposals during its coordinatorship and looked forward to advancing cooperation with China, particularly in the ADMM-Plus and its Experts’ Working Groups (EWGs). The meeting also welcomed Myanmar as the incoming Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations from 2021-2024.
The 8th ADMM-Plus was convened virtually on 16 June 2021 and attended by the 18 Defense Ministers of the ADMM-Plus and the ASEAN Secretary-General. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ADMM-Plus shared its common regional security challenges such as terrorism, violent extremism, border control, cyber security, maritime security, and climate change. On recent developments on regional and international issues, the ADMM-Plus exchanged views on the military coup in Myanmar, situation in the Korean peninsula, importance of the Indo-Pacific region, and major power competition. On the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea (SCS/WPS), some Plus countries expressed concern on the ambiguous application of the Chinese Coast Guard Law (CGL), while stressing the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight and the early conclusion of a substantive Code of Conduct (COC). Towards the end, the 8th ADMM-Plus also adopted the “Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration of the ADMM-Plus Defence Ministers on Promoting A Future-Ready, Peaceful and Prosperous ASEAN”, which endeavors to strengthen cooperation among the ADMM-Plus Member States and build on the practical cooperation under the ADMM-Plus EWGs to address security challenges for the collective benefit of forging a future-ready ASEAN.
The ADMM is the highest defense consultative and cooperative mechanism among ASEAN defense establishments, while the ADMM-Plus is the ADMM’s platform to meet with the Defense Ministers of eight (8) Plus Countries namely: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea (ROK), Russian Federation, and United States of America (USA).