Singapore, China defence ministers reaffirm longstanding ties, cooperation

SINGAPORE – Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe had a video conference on Tuesday (June 8), reaffirming the longstanding, warm and friendly bilateral defence relationship between the two countries that has deepened and grown over the years, said the Ministry of Defence.

During the meeting, the ministers acknowledged that Singapore and China had marked their 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2020 with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force aerobatics team Ba Yi performing at the Singapore Airshow for the first time.

Both countries have also continued regular interactions despite the ongoing Covid-19 situation, said Mindef in its statement.

These include numerous bilateral and multilateral exercises, high-level visits, professional exchanges, port calls, and attendance of courses and seminars.

Dr Ng and General Wei, who is Chinese State Councillor and Minister of National Defence, also talked about regional security developments and how their militaries had supported the fight against the global pandemic.

They discussed practical ways to strengthen Asean-China defence cooperation and the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus framework.

ADMM-Plus involves the 10 Asean members and eight dialogue partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

Posting on Facebook after the meeting, Dr Ng said he had extensive and comprehensive discussions with Gen Wei, who was “very kind” to provide updates on China’s domestic situation as well as regional and international affairs.

Mindef said Dr Ng also thanked Gen Wei for strongly supporting the Shangri-La Dialogue – even though the annual security summit was called off this year for pandemic reasons – and invited him to visit Singapore when circumstances in the region improve.

General Wei Fenghe (left) and Dr Ng Eng Hen and also talked about regional security developments. PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

Both ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen defence cooperation under an enhanced pact signed in 2019.

The agreement caters for frequent dialogues such as the video conference on Tuesday, the institutionalising and scaling up of flagship bilateral army and navy exercises, and regular academic exchanges.

“We were both keen that military-to-military ties be kept warm despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” wrote Dr Ng, adding that both ministers supported planned exercises between the Singapore Armed Forces and PLA continuing this year.

Dr Ng’s video meeting with Gen Wei comes a week after similar phone calls with Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

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