S'pore & China reaffirm 'warm & friendly' defence ties, pledge to strengthen defence cooperation

Both sides acknowledged the "significant progress" made in their bilateral defence relations.

Jean Chien Tay | September 15, 2021, 05:31 PM

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In the recent Singapore-China Defence Policy Dialogue (DPD), Singapore's Permanent Secretary of Defence Chan Heng Kee and China's Deputy Chief of Joint Staff Lieutenant General Shao Yuanming "reaffirmed the warm and friendly defence ties" between Singapore and China, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a press release on Sep. 14.

According to Mindef, the DPD was co-chaired by Chan and Shao, and was held via video conferencing on Sep. 14.

As Singapore and China marked the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations in 2020, they also acknowledged the "significant progress" made in their bilateral defence relationship.

The statement also mentioned the Chinese People's Liberation Army Force "Ba Yi" aerobatics team's inaugural participation at the Singapore Airshow in 2020.

Mutual commitment to strengthen defence cooperation

The Singapore-China DPD was inaugurated in 2008, and serves as a forum for both countries to discuss areas of defence cooperation and exchange views on areas of "mutual interest".

Citing the "enhanced" Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) signed by both countries in 2019, both sides expressed their "commitment to strengthen defence cooperation" under the agreement.

The initiatives include regularising and scaling up bilateral exercises and interactions, such as the flagship bilateral army and naval exercises -- Exercise Cooperation and Exercise Maritime Cooperation, the continuation of high-level exchanges, the establishment of a bilateral hotline and the regular conduct of academic exchanges among military academies and think-tanks.

According to Mindef, both defence establishments have also supported each other during the Covid-19 pandemic, by donating medical supplies, holding dialogues, and exchanging best practices in handling Covid-19.

Discussed about ASEAN-China defence cooperation

Chan and Shao also exchanged views on security developments in the region and globally, and touched on ways to "strengthen cooperation" under the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) framework.

The annual ADMM-Plus meeting represents a platform for Asean and eight countries, including China, to discuss security and defence cooperation for peace, stability, and development in the region.

Asean-China dialogue relations marked its 30th anniversary this year, and cooperation has been "comprehensive and mutually-beneficial", according to Mindef's statement.

The pair further discussed ways to "broaden" Asean-China defence cooperation, in order to "build mutual understanding and confidence among the defence establishments".

Defence Minister "glad" to see initiatives being implemented

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen took to Facebook to welcome the dialogue, and recounted the signing of the "enhanced" ADESC with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe in 2019.

"I am glad to see the ADESC initiatives being implemented to build understanding, dialogue and cooperation", he added.

DPD coincided with Wang Yi's working visit to Singapore

The Singapore-China DPD coincided with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's two-day working visit to Singapore, which was from Sep. 13 to Sep. 14.

Wang called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his visit, and also met with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Three weeks prior, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Singapore for the first time since taking office.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary for Defence Lloyd Austin visited Singapore in July, where both countries reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relations between them.

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Top image via MINDEF website