World / Asia-Pacific

Reporter's log: Weather clears for a moment at meeting

By ZHANG YUNBI in Singapore ( Updated: 2016-06-06 00:05

June is already rainy in Singapore, which is bad news for reporters like me who have to commute on foot for 15 minutes between my hotel and the venue for the Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual high-end security forum at the Shangri-La Hotel.

To make things worse, I arrived in the scenic city on Thursday without an umbrella, and the three-day meetings opened on Friday.

What occupied my mind at that time was the potential responses from defense chiefs and experts about the tensions in the South China Sea, a topic that has recently dominated media headlines like a rain cloud.

The first two striking days saw rain for a while, a deeper grey that added fuel to my anxiety about scooping newsworthy details.

A miracle dawned on Sunday, the final day: no rain.

Interestingly, in the hotel ballroom, senior officials of countries directly involved in the South China Sea issue spoke out in a manner milder than expected.

The fact is, sovereignty-related tensions fluctuate, and no policy insiders can say for sure when a standoff will end, any more than a weather forecaster can tell you the exact minute the rain will stop.

Similarly, experts think competition between China and the US may continue to flare this year, but they are not fortunetellers. They can't say what specific actions the US military will take at China's doorstep.

One scene intrigued me greatly on Friday. Admiral Sun Jianguo, who led the Chinese delegation, shook hands with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter at dinner. They spoke with each other briefly.

The handshake stood out because no official meeting was planned between them.

In a similar way, perhaps Beijing and Washington can work on easing the tense atmosphere out there in the sea, just like blowing away the rainy clouds.  

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