SINGAPORE: Singapore's and China's armies will step up bilateral defence cooperation, Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Monday (Feb 5).
Chinese Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan is in Singapore for an official defence visit from Sunday to Thursday.
In a press release, MINDEF said Gen Chang was received by Singapore Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen at MINDEF on Monday morning with a Guard of Honour.
During their meeting, Gen Chang proposed to deepen army cooperation through the conduct of Exercise Cooperation in 2018 to 2019, and navy cooperation through port calls and other "mutually beneficial interactions". He also invited MINDEF and the Singapore Armed Forces leadership to visit China.
MINDEF said Dr Ng accepted Gen Chang’s invitation to this year’s Xiangshan Forum in September 2018. He also welcomed high-level visits from China's People’s Liberation Army to Singapore.
According to the press release, both ministers also discussed regional security issues and agreed on the need to have open and inclusive security architectures.
Gen Chang conveyed China’s support for Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship, affirming that China would work with Singapore to deepen ASEAN-China relations, MINDEF said.
He also conveyed his appreciation for the role that Singapore, as the ASEAN-China country coordinator, has played to improve defence ties between China and ASEAN, it added.
MINDEF said in the press release that Gen Chang's visit "underscores the warm and friendly bilateral defence relations between Singapore and China".
In a Facebook post on Monday afternoon, Dr Ng said he was "happy and honoured" to host Gen Chang, whom he referred to as his "good friend".
"I was very touched when he said to me during this visit, 'Coming to Singapore, is not like going away, but visiting good friends in the same town'," he wrote in the post.
In addition to visits to the SAF army and navy units, Gen Chang was hosted to lunch by Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung and to dinner by Dr Ng.
As part of his visit programme, Gen Chang will call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and be hosted to breakfast by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean. Gen Chang and Dr Ng will also co-chair the ASEAN-China Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting on Tuesday, according to MINDEF.