SINGAPORE: An inaugural ASEAN-China maritime exercise is among initiatives to advance ASEAN-China relations, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a press release on Monday (Oct 23).
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen held a bilateral meeting with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan on the sidelines of the 11th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and 4th ADMM-Plus in Clark, Philippines.
During the meeting, Gen Chang expressed appreciation for Singapore's efforts at strengthening ASEAN-China ties in Singapore's role as ASEAN-China coordinator. They discussed further practical initiatives to advance ASEAN-China relations, based on their meeting in Beijing in September and looking ahead to next year when Singapore assumes the ASEAN chairmanship.
This includes planning for the conduct of an inaugural ASEAN-China maritime exercise, an idea first first mooted by China last year.
"Since the agreement of the Four-Point Consensus by Dr Ng and Gen Chang in 2014, Singapore-China defence relations have steadily progressed," MINDEF said.
In addition to high level bilateral interactions and exchanges, the People’s Liberation Army and the Singapore Armed Forces conduct regular bilateral interactions, such as the army exercise, Exercise Cooperation, and the new bilateral naval exercise, Exercise Maritime Cooperation, introduced in 2015.
ASEAN DEFENCE MINISTERS DISCUSS COUNTER-TERRORISM INITIATIVES
At the meeting, Dr Ng and other ASEAN defence ministers signed the 11th ADMM Joint Declaration, underscoring their resolve to combat terrorism through regional and international cooperation, MINDEF said.
The ministers also attended a special ADMM meeting on countering violent extremism, radicalisation, and terrorism.
"At the meeting, the Defence Ministers reaffirmed the importance of regional counter-terrorism initiatives, such as the Trilateral Maritime and Air Patrols in the Sulu Sea, and highlighted the need for ASEAN to respond collectively given that terrorism is a problem that no country can singlehandedly manage," MINDEF said.
Dr Ng added that Singapore will step up counter-terrorism collaboration between the ASEAN defence establishments during Singapore’s 2018 ADMM chairmanship.
He also held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the other ASEAN countries, in which they "reaffirmed the strong bilateral relationships", MINDEF added.
Dr Ng will participate in the ADMM Chairmanship handover ceremony on Tuesday, where Singapore will officially take over the ADMM and ADMM-Plus chairmanship from the Philippines.