• Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Defense Singapore.

Dr. Ng Eng Hen, Minister of Defense Singapore. (Photo : Ministry of Defense)

Singapore's Minister of Defense Dr. Ng Eng Hen told an audience of American policy makers and government officials in California the United States can't prevent China's rise to the status of a superpower.

"It is neither possible nor strategically necessary to contain China's rise," said Dr. Ng.

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"China is now an integral leader of global systems of trade, finance and security. It is clear that China needs the world as much as the world needs China, and I think this interdependence will grow, not diminish."

He thinks there are a lot of benefits in a strong China that should be "able to provide opportunities for both U.S. and other countries in the world, and I think that there are many areas that you can focus on that are productive."

The U.S. won't reduce its presence in the Asia-Pacific region with Donald Trump as president, he told his audience at the fourth Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California attended by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, foreign defense ministers and members of the U.S. Congress.

Ng said the world should see the rise of China, India and ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as a "virtuous outcome" of the U.S. foreign and defense policies over the last seven decades.

That very fact alone validates U.S. foreign and defense policies in Asia over the last few decades. Dr. Ng also thinks this success brings a number of new challenges as "we contemplate U.S. foreign policy moving forward" under Trump, who is increasingly painting himself as anti-China.

Singapore has always spoken highly of America's "Asia-Pacific rebalance" strategy, which it supports.

"The U.S.' presence in the Asia-Pacific region based predominantly on security is unidimensional and structurally brittle," said Dr. Ng.

"The U.S. needs a multifaceted relationship with countries in Asia. Singapore looks forward to working with the new administration to continue to allow the US to be a stabilizing force in the Asia-Pacific region."

The Reagan National Defense Forum brings together distinguished leaders and key players in the defense community to address national security issues.