Singapore and China leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen defence relations through bilateral engagements and exercises. Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and his Chinese counterpart General (GEN) Wei Fenghe made this commitment during a formal bilateral meeting at the Singapore Ministry of Defence of Defence (MINDEF) on 29 May.
GEN Wei is in Singapore for an introductory military visit, and to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) – an annual security summit – that will be held from 31 May to 2 Jun.
During the meeting, the two men welcomed the fourth edition of Exercise Cooperation, a bilateral army exercise to be held later this year. They also agreed to hold Exercise Maritime Cooperation between the two countries' navies in 2020.
The two defence leaders are also expected to ink a revised Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) later this year. The ADESC is a bilateral defence agreement between China and Singapore that was first signed on 7 Jan 2008.
The revised ADESC will see the two countries deepen defence ties by boosting frequent high-level dialogues and pave the way for larger-scale bilateral exercises. Also included in the agreement are academic and think-tank interactions between the two sides.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Dr Ng said: "We had a number of ideas on how we wanted to step up and deepen defence ties and we both agreed that this (revised ADESC) would be an appropriate instrument to enhance these interactions."
On China's role in regional security, Dr Ng added that GEN Wei's visit to Singapore showed China's willingness to engage with the region and with the world.
“We both affirmed that we wanted to deepen defence relations and I think (that) - because…of the common goals that both China and Singapore, and indeed all countries share – we are on the same page.”
The Chinese defence minister called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana on 30 May. He will also call on Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on the sidelines of SLD.
As part of his introductory military visit, GEN Wei visited RSS Singapura – Changi Naval Base where he was briefed on the Republic of Singapore Navy's Information Fusion Centre and toured the Archer-class submarine RSS Swordsman and Formidable-class frigate RSS Stalwart.
He will also visit Headquarters, 3rd Singapore Division to preview the Singapore Army's platforms and equipment that will be used at Exercise Cooperation later this year.