Minister of National Defence, the Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, participates in the Conference on the South China Sea

News release

November 16, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, delivered a keynote address during the 12th annual Conference on the South China Sea, hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

Through the defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada acknowledges the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to Canadian security and prosperity. Minister Sajjan emphasized Canada’s commitment to being a strong partner and ally, and the important role the Canadian Armed Forces plays through its consistent engagement and strong partnerships in the region. 

The Minister expressed Canada’s support for the important work of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in fostering cooperation and mutual respect between nations, as well as strengthening regional security.

In line with the conference’s theme of maintaining peace and cooperation through a time of turbulence, Minister Sajjan also shared how Canada recognizes that today’s challenges demand an unprecedented level of international cooperation.

Discussions at the conference focused on how critical the world’s oceans and seaways are to our global economy. Approximately 90 percent of world trade travels by sea — with one-third travelling via the South China Sea. To ensure that our global commons remain free and safe, nations must continue to work together to uphold and defend the rules-based international order.


 “Canada will always seek to work with our trusted allies and partners to uphold the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region, including in Southeast Asia. Canada favours a multilateral approach to problem-solving, and supports dialogue and cooperation, based on mutual respect between nations. The Conference on the South China Sea is an important opportunity to foster productive dialogue amongst partners and allies, and bring together diverse and valuable perspectives. ”

Minister of National Defence, Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan

Quick facts

  • HMCS Winnipeg and a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 aircraft are deployed, supporting UN sanctions in the region. The Canadian Armed Forces deploys a Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate with embarked maritime helicopter detachment, and a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora with crew and supporting personnel on a rotational basis. This is the third time the CAF has deployed personnel since Operation NEON was established in 2019.

  • Canada has collaborated with partners in the region for decades through training and capacity building programs. A dozen nations in the Indo-Pacific region are currently participating in Canada’s Military Training Cooperation Programme. To date, more than 3,500 military personnel from the region have received language, staff, peace support operations and military professional development training under the auspices of this program.

  • Canada also has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers with ASEAN members through the Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Programme, which provides counter-terrorism training, equipment, and technical assistance.

  • Organized and hosted by Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, the Conference on the South China Sea is in its 12th year. The conference brings together a wide range of academics and government officials from across the world.

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