SINGAPORE: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China are set to hold its first maritime exercise at the end of this year.
The move was welcomed by ASEAN defence ministers, who held an informal meeting with Chinese Minister of National Defense Chang Wanquan in Singapore on Tuesday (Feb 6).
The ministers also welcomed stronger relations between ASEAN and China and discussed ways to improve practical cooperation.
“For those of us who have been around for long enough, we know that Mr Chang Wanquan is a good and solid friend of ASEAN," said Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in his remarks at the start of the meeting.
"He has done a lot personally to bring our bilateral defence relationship between ASEAN and China forward.”
General Chang noted China and ASEAN have become strategic partners and that in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping had suggested forming a China-ASEAN community of common destiny.
Since then, General Chang said ASEAN and China have increased interactions, strengthened defence exchanges and cooperation and built a strong friendship.
General Chang also noted when he met the ASEAN defence ministers in Clark, Philippines, in October last year, the 19th China Communist Party National Congress was taking place.
“Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, we have entered a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This has given greater vitality for China’s development and more opportunities for cooperation with the international community, including ASEAN countries.”
General Chang is in Singapore for an introductory visit from Feb 4 to 8.