Ng Eng Hen calls on China's Xi ahead of Military World Games

The opening ceremony of the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan yesterday. Over 10,000 soldiers from 109 countries will participate in a record 329 sporting events over 10 days, according to the Chinese media.
The opening ceremony of the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan yesterday. Over 10,000 soldiers from 109 countries will participate in a record 329 sporting events over 10 days, according to the Chinese media.PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK

S'pore defence minister will also attend high-level security forum

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen was among more than 20 defence ministers who met Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, at a major military gala China is hosting.

The joint call on Mr Xi came before the opening ceremony of the 7th Military World Games, the second-biggest multi-sport event in the world after the Olympics.

Over 10,000 soldiers from 109 countries will participate in a record 329 sporting events over 10 days, said Chinese media. This is the first time China is hosting the quadrennial games in their 24-year history.

Dr Ng also interacted with other defence ministers from Asean and the region on the sidelines of the opening ceremony, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement yesterday.

Dr Ng, who is in China for a five-day visit, will also attend the annual Xiangshan Forum next Tuesday, where he will deliver a speech on the interests of small and medium-sized countries and common security.

The annual security forum - widely seen as Beijing's equivalent to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore - brings together high-level defence, military and foreign affairs leaders from around the world.

Analysts said this year's Xiangshan Forum is likely to be the biggest since it began in 2006, coming on the back of the Wuhan games.

At the opening ceremony, Mr Xi said he hoped the sporting contest will showcase "the power of sports to dispel the shadow of war", reported Xinhua news agency.

China will also strive to make the event an international gathering that encourages mutual learning of diverse military cultures, said Mr Xi, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).

As part of his visit, Dr Ng will have bilateral engagements with Chinese leaders in Beijing, including CMC vice-chairman, General Xu Qiliang, and State Councillor and Minister of National Defence, General Wei Fenghe, said Mindef.

Singapore and China agreed to step up defence cooperation when Gen Wei made his introductory visit to Singapore in May. As head of the Chinese delegation at this year's Shangri-La Dialogue, he was also the highest-level Chinese official to attend the conference in almost a decade.

Dr Ng told Parliament this month that Singapore and China are actively working to conclude an enhanced Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation that will formalise high-level dialogues while increasing the scale of existing bilateral exercises.

Both countries' militaries are also exploring ways to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year, he added, such as through the flagship bilateral exercises, Exercise Maritime Cooperation and Exercise Cooperation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2019, with the headline 'Ng Eng Hen calls on China's Xi ahead of Military World Games'. Print Edition | Subscribe