SINGAPORE: Singapore's Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen held a bilateral meeting with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Chang Wanquan in Beijing on Thursday (Sep 21) as the pair reaffirmed the commitment to deepen defence ties and build mutual trust as well as practical cooperation between both countries.
The meeting was conducted on the sidelines of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to China from Sep 19 to Sep 21, and follows the meeting between PM Lee and President Xi Jinping on Wednesday evening.
"As part of the all-round comprehensive engagement between Singapore and China across all sectors, the defence relationship is built on shared strategic interests to enhance bilateral ties and to promote stability and progress for the region," Singapore's Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in an official release on the meeting between Dr Ng and General Chang.
During the meeting at the National Defense Bayi building, Dr Ng congratulated the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on its 90th anniversary and acknowledged the pivotal role the PLA had played in China's founding and continued importance in shaping its future.
General Chang said that China was "willing to break new ground for cooperation with Singapore", according to state news agency Xinhua.
The leaders of both countries "attach great importance to the development of bilateral relations, and the two countries should back each other on their core interests and major concerns", Xinhua quoted Chang as saying.
The pair also gave full support for their Ministries, the PLA and the Singapore Armed Forces to adopt practical measures to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation.
This will be done through more high level visits between both leaders and top echelon commanders, as well as conducting the next editions of army-to-army and navy-to-navy bilateral exercises, MINDEF said.
These measures are consistent with and will build on the Four Point Consensus which both Ministers agreed to in 2014, MINDEF added.
Since then, Singapore-China defence relations have steadily progressed, including the introduction of a new bilateral naval exercise in 2015, Exercise Maritime Cooperation, which comprised conventional naval warfare serials, exercise planning, and combined simulator training ashore.
In a Facebook post on Friday morning, Dr Ng stressed that both parties are looking to step up bilateral exercises between their navies and armies.
He added that Singapore, as the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations Coordinator and ASEAN Chair in 2018, "will do its part to step up practical cooperation between China and ASEAN, to promote stability and progress in this region."
As part of his trip, Dr Ng was hosted to a visit of the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution by its curator, Major-General Dong Changjun.
Dr Ng also invited General Chang and the PLA leadership to visit Singapore.
"I extended to General Chang an open invitation to visit Singapore, for us to repay his warmth and hospitality during this trip," Dr Ng added.