COVID-19: June's Shangri-La Dialogue cancelled due to pandemic

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Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue. (PHOTO: Facebook/Ng Eng Hen)
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue. (PHOTO: Facebook/Ng Eng Hen)

SINGAPORE — The 2020 Shangri-La Dialogue has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said organiser International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in a statement on its official website on Friday (27 March).

The defence summit, which has been held annually in Singapore at Shangri-La Hotel since 2002, was scheduled for 5 to 7 June this year.

However, IISS said that in light of the serious challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, it has decided “in close consultation with the Government of Singapore” not to convene the Dialogue.

“Many countries have imposed travel restrictions in response to the pandemic and these may still be in force at the time that this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue would have been convened,” IISS said in the statement.

“Given that the Dialogue draws participation from more than 40 countries, many of which have imposed such restrictions, the IISS has decided that the only sensible course at this point is to notify delegates and other interested parties that the event will not take place this year.”

IISS added that it will begin work on the 2021 Shangri-La Dialogue shortly.

Ng Eng Hen confirms cancellation

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed the Dialogue’s cancellation in a post put up on his Facebook page on Saturday.

“Looking at the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with epicentres now in Europe, the UK and the US, and travel restrictions imposed by many countries, it would be a significant challenge to hold the Shangri-La Dialogue as scheduled in early June,” he wrote in his post.

“Government leaders and delegations from nearly 40 countries attend this premier security dialogue, so it’s important to give advance notice now.”

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