By Raffaello Pantucci and Alexandros Petersen
First published in the Lowy Institute’s Interpreter 25 June 2012
Central Asia’s magisterial valleys, like the Fergana or the high plateaus of the Pamirs, have long been thought to be the location of the mythical Shangri-La.
This idyllic hidden valley, where peace-loving people age only ever so slowly, not only inspired James Hilton to write his eponymous book but also Southeast Asian billionaire Robert Kuok to found the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore. And the luxury hotel has lent its name to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue, the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Asia Security Summit, regularly attended by defence ministers from the region and the US Secretary of Defense.
For most Asia Pacific powers, the Shangri-La Dialogue is seen as the major security summit of the year. The high-level American attendance reassures regional powers, offering them an opportunity to interact with counterparts from the US and to understand better their interests and activity in the region. Continue reading