Ng Eng Hen calls on Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of CISM Military World Games

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the 7th Military World Games in Wuhan, China, on Oct 18, 2019. PHOTO: MINDEF

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen was among more than 20 defence ministers who met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday (Oct 18) 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.

More than 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 its 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 said in a statement on Friday (Oct 18).

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 China's official 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 Councilor 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 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.

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