Earlier this month, Vietnam and Singapore held the ninth iteration of a defense policy dialogue between the two countries. The holding of the interaction once again put the spotlight on the development of bilateral defense ties between the two Southeast Asian states.
As I have noted before in these pages, though contemporary Singapore-Vietnam relations had initially been under the shadow of the Cold War, the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1973 and have looked to strengthen relations even further over the past few years, with the inking of a strategic partnership occurring in 2013.
That includes the defense side as well. Defense ties have included a range of interactions, including visits, courses, and an annual policy dialogue, across a range of areas that were placed under a framework of a defense cooperation agreement back in 2009. One of these interactions is a defense policy dialogue (DPD) that has been held at the deputy minister level between the two sides.
Earlier this month, the Vietnam-Singapore defense relationship was in the spotlight again with the holding of the Defense Policy Dialogue on November 12. The dialogue was the ninth iteration that was held between the two defense establishments up to this point, following the eighth that had been held in Vietnam. And it came as both sides were commemorating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties and during a year where Singapore has been chairing ASEAN.
The DPD was co-chaired by Vietnam Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh and Permanent Secretary of the Defense Ministry Chan Yeng Kit. According to Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF), Chan and Vinh discussed the existing state of defense ties and potential ways to build upon them as well. The two sides have looked to update their cooperation plans carried out in three year increments over time during interactions including the DPD, which represents the most significant of these.
Apart from that, they also exchanged views on international and regional security issues of mutual interest, such as cooperation under the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the ADMM-Plus, which Singapore has been chairing this year, as part of its ASEAN chairmanship, and Vietnam will be chairing in 2020 when it takes the helm. Vietnam’s defense ministry also added that apart from the regional security architecture, the range of issues discussed included competition among major powers, the South China Sea issue, and non-traditional security challenges.
Beyond that, Vinh’s visit to Singapore, which lasted from November 11 to 13, also included other engagements as well, including calling on Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen at Singapore’s defense ministry, where they also discussed a range of bilateral issues as well as matters of common interest in the region and the world.