ASEAN steps up defence cooperation with US, China

ASEAN defence ministers held a meeting with the participation of Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis on October 19.

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The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 12th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the 5th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) in Singapore from October 18-20.

At the event, the Chinese minister proposed stepping up defence collaboration with ASEAN by establishing a direct hotline between China and ASEAN, and implementing exchange programmes between the two sides’ institutes and young leaders.

Stressing the increasing development of the ASEAN-China defence cooperation, he vowed to build a closer ASEAN-China community for a common future.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN defence ministers applauded their new Chinese counterpart’s proposals and affirmed their hope for stronger defence cooperation between the two sides. They said they support the Chinese side’s proposals, which will help boost mutual trust and friendship between military and defence agencies of ASEAN and China.

The ministers acknowledged the success of ASEAN-China joint exercises in Singapore in August 2018, saying a joint maritime training course will be conducted from October 22-28 in Zhanjiang city of China. 

Speaking at the meeting, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the joint drill programme aims to building trust between the sides.  

On the occasion, ASEAN and the US agreed to deploy joint maritime drills in 2019, saying this is an effective measure to enhance capacity and cooperation between naval forces in the region.

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis noted that the US and ASEAN have enjoyed close relations for more than 40 years and reaffirmed the neutralism and solidarity of ASEAN.

The US vows to continue supporting ASEAN in such fields as maritime security and law enforcement; fight against terrorism and extreme violence; humanitarian aid and disaster relief; capacity building in different sectors like international law, peacekeeping activities, and response to chemical, biological and radioactive threats, and cyber security.

The ASEAN ministers applauded the participation of the US and China as their partners at the ADMM, saying that the US-China relationship plays an important role in regional peace and stability.

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