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Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen spoke on the US-China relationship, the importance of a rules-based order and the role of ASEAN as a regional security platform at the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD).
In view of the changing circumstances in the South China Sea dispute, "ASEAN has taken a practical approach, to work on the Code of Conduct to constrain, if not bind, behaviour".
Navies from 10 ASEAN countries and China build confidence and trust through joint search-and-rescue (SAR) operations and drills at sea.
"It is essential for our military leaders to build rapport, understanding and confidence through interactions at various levels...to build personal ties which can prove very useful (in) de-escalating tensions and preventing miscalculations."
The ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise is an important milestone in Singapore's efforts to advance regional stability.
With a combined total of 25 million troops across the 10 ASEAN and the eight ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus countries, the grouping accounts for a significant percentage of the world's military forces.
The 10 ASEAN defence ministers have signed off on the world's first multilateral Guidelines for Air Military Encounters (GAME) to improve the operational safety of air lanes.
The new code applies to unplanned encounters between military aircraft over high seas and describes the need for communicating appropriately, maintaining a safe distance and avoiding reckless manoeuvres.
More than 40 participants from the navies of all 10 ASEAN countries and China took part in the Table-Top Exercise (TTX) which focused on the development of plans to conduct joint rescue operations out at sea. The two-day TTX ended on 3 Aug.
The biennial Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) not only presents valuable training opportunities for Singapore but also reaffirms the strong ties among the navies participating in what is the world's largest multilateral maritime exercise.
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