Avoiding physical conflict in Asia most important task for all security leaders: Singaporean defense minister
Published: Oct 31, 2023 02:16 PM
The 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum is held on October 30, 2023. Photo: Leng Shumei/GT

The 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum is held from October 29 to 30, 2023. Photo: Leng Shumei/GT

The most important task for the coming decade for all security leaders is to avoid physical conflict in Asia, according to the Singaporean defense minister in a speech delivered at the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum on Tuesday.

"What happened in Europe and the Middle East must never occur here, as simultaneous conflicts in Asia, Europe and the Middle East will be catastrophic for our world," said Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence of Singapore.

Processes to settle disputes, avoid and deescalate clashes are necessary tools to avoid conflict, Ng said.

Ng called for paramilitary vessels, particularly coast guards, to open channels of communication to further avoid risks. 

Hotlines can make its difference, especially in a moment of crisis, Ng said, noting that Singapore and China signed an MoU in June this year toward the establishment of a security defense telephone link.

The US and China have similar bilateral defense lines established, and the hope is that both countries will find an arrangement to use them effectively, Ng said.

In addressing the US-China "strategic rivalry," Ng said that people need both a strong US and a strong China to effectively address global challenges, as the world will not be better off if either the US or China experiences decline.

"What is needed is that political commitment and hard work from both countries to improve relations," he said.