China must spell out vision for global order: Ng Eng Hen

Mr Ng meeting Madam Fu on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
Mr Ng meeting Madam Fu on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/ FACEBOOK

China is now deeply integrated into the global system and its progress has been good for the region and the world as well, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has said.

And Beijing now plays a critical role in setting new rules, he added, given its leadership role due to its economic and military weight.

"China, too, must now articulate its vision for its desired global order," he told a panel at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. "Its own stability is now dependent on the stability of the overall system."

Dr Ng also said in a Facebook post he was glad that co-panellist Fu Ying, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's National People's Congress, acknowledged that her country was on a steep learning curve and had to better explain itself on international fora.

"If it did not, others would provide alternate narratives and sow suspicion," Dr Ng said in the post.

Singapore will play its part to forge a stable international order with greater cooperation between China and the region, he added.

Madam Fu spoke about China's role and contributions to global governance, and called on the United States and North Korea to make peace rather than resort to military build-ups that increase tensions.

Dr Ng also met several of his counterparts from Europe, Asia and the Middle East at the three-day meet.

In an earlier Facebook post, he noted that the mood at the conference has changed over the years.

"A few years back, it was all about enjoying the 'peace dividend' with the Cold War over. Militaries in almost all European countries focused on downsizing their strength in response to the new and more peaceful normal," he wrote.

"That is no longer the case - now security risks have gone up and are seen as bleak. The crises in Crimea and Ukraine, the terror attacks in France and the flood of refugees into Europe are now in focus.

"Singapore must never take our peace for granted nor let our guard down. Unlike Europe, we have only ourselves to depend on for our safety and security," he added. "Forget that and we risk losing Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'China must spell out vision for global order: Eng Hen'. Print Edition | Subscribe