Bigger joint training exercises with China on the cards: Ng Eng Hen

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen signing the guest book on the Chinese navy’s newest missile corvette Fushun on Nov 11, 2014. Bigger and more regular joint war games are on the cards, under Singapore's plan to boost its military ties with
Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen signing the guest book on the Chinese navy’s newest missile corvette Fushun on Nov 11, 2014. Bigger and more regular joint war games are on the cards, under Singapore's plan to boost its military ties with China. -- ST PHOTO: JERMYN CHOW

BEIJING, CHINA - Bigger and more regular joint war games are on the cards, under Singapore's plan to boost its military ties with China.

Visiting defence minister Ng Eng Hen, who will be meeting his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan on Friday, said they will be discussing ways to deepen Sino-Singapore ties to build confidence and trust between the People's Liberation Army and the Singapore Armed Forces.

The two armies had just wrapped up their biggest joint war games to date in Nanjing on Sunday, in an exercise in which which 140 troops from both sides teamed up to fire their weapons and practise battle manoeuvres.

In a speech on Thursday at the People's Liberation Army National Defence University in Beijing, Dr Ng said Asia's prosperity is "intrinsically intertwined with China's and the rest of the world".

Backed by its growing influence and power, China has a crucial role to play in maintaining stability in the Asia, which has seen simmering tensions due to competing claims in the South China Sea as well as the United States' pivot to the region, he added.

Dr Ng said that being a small country with five million people, Singapore, like many countries, can benefit from China, which has "abundant resources, especially manpower and very intelligent minds".

Yet, China still wants to learn from Singapore and sends its government leaders to the Republic's learning institutes, Dr Ng noted.

"For China and Singapore, I believe that our differences complement our relationship, and we can learn from each other because we can share perspectives from different vantage points," he added.

Dr Ng said China and Singapore have each other's well-being in mind, so  "the more honest and open we can be with each other, the more our countries can benefit and grow together".

While Asean countries have benefited under the strategic defence umbrella that the US provided, Dr Ng said China has also grown in influence and power.

"By virtue of its strategic global weight, China has a crucial role to play in maintaining peace and stability in the region, and indeed globally."