MALAYSIA: Hotline for Defense Ministers Established

On 3 November, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein announced the creation of an emergency hotline for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) defense ministers. The hotline will allow Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam to rapidly communicate with each other in times of emergencies, typically on the seas. The hotline was created after a US warship challenged the territorial limits of one of China’s man-made islands. This hotline will likely be used most often regarding the many territorial waters disputes currently in the South China Sea. However, the lack of a Chinese inclusion in the hotline increases the likelihood of active military engagements in the South China Sea following a misunderstanding or accidental violation of territorial waters.