Singapore, China defence ministers reaffirm close ties

They discuss regional security developments and how their militaries support Covid-19 fight in video conference

China's People's Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team Ba Yi performing at the Singapore Airshow in February last year. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (right) and General Wei Fenghe, who is Chinese State Councillor and Minister
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (right) and General Wei Fenghe, who is Chinese State Councillor and Minister of National Defence, in a video conference yesterday. Dr Ng said he had extensive and comprehensive discussions with Gen Wei, who provided updates on China's domestic situation as well as its handling of regional and international affairs.PHOTO: NG ENG HEN/FACEBOOK
China's People's Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team Ba Yi performing at the Singapore Airshow in February last year. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (right) and General Wei Fenghe, who is Chinese State Councillor and Minister
China's People's Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team Ba Yi performing at the Singapore Airshow in February last year. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe had a video conference yesterday, reaffirming the longstanding, warm and friendly bilateral defence relationship between the two countries that has deepened and grown over the years, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

During the meeting, the ministers acknowledged that Singapore and China had marked their 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force aerobatics team Ba Yi performing at the Singapore Airshow for the first time.

Both countries have also continued regular interactions despite the ongoing Covid-19 situation, said Mindef in its statement.

These include numerous bilateral and multilateral exercises, high-level visits, professional exchanges, port calls and attendance of courses and seminars.

Dr Ng and General Wei, who is Chinese State Councillor and Minister of National Defence, also talked about regional security developments and how their militaries had supported the fight against the global pandemic.

They discussed practical ways to strengthen Asean-China defence cooperation and the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus framework.

ADMM-Plus involves the 10 Asean members and eight dialogue partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

Posting on Facebook after the meeting, Dr Ng said he had extensive and comprehensive discussions with Gen Wei, who was "very kind" to provide updates on China's domestic situation as well as its handling of regional and international affairs.

Dr Ng also thanked Gen Wei for strongly supporting the Shangri-La Dialogue - even though the annual security summit was called off this year due to the pandemic - and invited him to visit Singapore when the regional situation improves.

Both ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen defence cooperation under an enhanced pact signed in 2019.

It caters for frequent dialogues such as the video conference yesterday, the institutionalising and scaling up of flagship bilateral army and navy exercises, and regular academic exchanges.

"We were both keen that military-to-military ties be kept warm despite the Covid-19 pandemic," wrote Dr Ng, adding that both ministers supported planned exercises between the Singapore Armed Forces and PLA to continue this year.

Dr Ng's video meeting with Gen Wei comes a week after similar phone calls with Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2021, with the headline 'Singapore, China defence ministers reaffirm close ties'. Subscribe