Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, Spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on December 25, 2014. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)
(The following English text of press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Senior Colonel Yang Yujun:
Friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to the last press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of this year.
Question: You have mentioned that this is the last press conference of the Military of National Defense this year. Could you please review the major military exercises that have been conducted by the PLA this year?
Answer:This year the PLA and the People’s Armed Police Force held more than 200 brigade/division or higher level live troop exercises which improved the troop’s capability of carrying out diversified military missions. In these exercises, improving fighting capacity was clearly set as the utmost criteria. Hard and difficult subjects were pursued in line with the requirement of real combat. Problem-based methodology was applied. Combined training of different services and arms was strengthened. Military training inspection mechanism was established. And a finer style is gaining momentum on the training ground.
Question: Could you please review the joint military exercises between Chinese armed forces and foreign armed forces in the past year?
Answer: During 2014, we have taken part in 31 bilateral or multilateral joint exercises or trainings with foreign militaries. The Chinese armed forces have taken part in some of them many times, for example, the “Peace Mission-2014” Joint Counter-Terrorism Exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the China-Pakistan Joint Air Force Exercise “Shaheen-III”, and the China-India “Hand-in-Hand 2014” Army Joint Training. China took part in some other joint exercises for the first time, for example, the ‘Golden Cobra’ multilateral joint exercise, the “RIMPAC-2014” joint maritime exercise, the joint tabletop exercise with Malaysian armed forces, and the China-Tanzania marine corps joint training, etc.. The Chinese armed forces also participated in the “Avi-dart” and “Tank Biathlon” international competitions in Russia.
Generally speaking, the subjects of this year’s joint exercises and trainings have expanded from non-traditional security to traditional security and are more real combat oriented. During these joint exercises and trainings, the Chinese armed forces and their foreign counterparts trained together and learned from each other, which boosted mutual trust, deepened cooperation and improved skills. At the same time, the Chinese military gained the opportunity to demonstrate our fine image on the international stage.
Question: The U. S. government said that North Korea was behind the hacking attack on SONY Entertainment Pictures. Last week, the United States asked for China’s help in cracking down on the people who carried out the hacking attack to see whether these hackers operated in China, and asked China to tell North Korea that such hacking attacks are not acceptable. The Chinese military and the North Korean military have a close relationship. Has the Chinese military discussed the hacking attack with the North Korean military and what message has the Chinese military delivered?
Answer: Actually, this is not a question related to the military and I cannot provide an answer to you here. Luckily, my colleagues in the Foreign Ministry have answered similar questions several times during the past week. You can refer to their answers.
Question: My question is about China and Japan relations. Yesterday, Shinzo Abe was again elected as the Prime Minister of Japan. He organized a new cabinet for Japan. Gen Nakatani, who has been attaching importance to China-Japan relations, was appointed as the new minister of defense. So, what are the Chinese side’s expectations for the new Japanese defense minister?
Answer: We have noticed that a new defense minister has been appointed in Japan. It is our position that whoever serves as the defense minister of Japan, the Japanese side should follow the path of peaceful development, conscientiously implement the four-point principled agreement reached by the two leaders of China and Japan, and make efforts for the further development of bilateral relations.
Question: Recently, the United States has made a decision to sell four new military ships to Taiwan. I'd like to hear your comments.
Answer: Recently, the U.S. President signed into law the Congress act authorizing the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. The spokespersons of the Chinese Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry have both expressed our solemn stance on this issue. We are strongly dissatisfied with and opposed to such actions, and we urge the U.S. to stop doing things that undermine the overall interests of bilateral relations and make joint efforts with the Chinese side for a healthy and stable development of bilateral as well as military relationship. The Chinese side will closely monitor the development of the situation and take appropriate reactions accordingly.
Question: Recently, Japanese media reported that China is building a military base on the Nanji Islands which are located 300 km northwest of the Diaoyu Islands and the purpose is to strengthen its capability of monitoring the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. Could you please confirm? Secondly, according to Bloomberg, the Chinese side is planning to replace most of the foreign technology equipment used by its banks, military, state-owned enterprises and key government institutions before 2020. The Chinese side will turn to domestic suppliers for providing equipment for these important government institutions. Could you please confirm and comment?
Answer: There is no doubt that China has the right to conduct activities and construction on its own territory. Some media in Japan make irresponsible speculations on China’s legitimate activities and construction and play up tensions in the region. It is pure media hype.
On your second question, I’m not aware of the matter that you have mentioned.
Question: Has the Defense Ministry or the People’s Liberation Army, either through direct knowledge or direct cooperation with North Korea, or through intelligence gathering, been informed of any North Korean cyber hacking units operating on Chinese territory?
Answer: I think I have already answered this question and I do not have more information to share.
Question: Recently, China’s weaponry export has attracted a lot of attention in western media. Some western research institutes pointed out that there has been a sharp increase in Chinese weaponry export, which has impacted regional security. what is your response? And what is China’s policy in arms export?
Answer: In terms of weaponry and arms export, China has always been adhering to the principle of not undermining regional and world peace, security and stability, and not interfering in the domestic affairs of the recipient country. China has always been abiding by relevant UN resolutions and international laws in weaponry and arms export and China’s arms exports have been prudent and responsible.
Question: India and China on the military front had a very eventful year this year. There are several interactions at various levels and they have dealt with several issues of differences over the line of actual control. What is the outlook for the next year? Are there any new exchanges in the pipeline? Can you give some details on how you see the next year coming?
Answer: This year is the year of friendly exchange between China and India. There are several important cooperation programs between the two militaries. For example, there have been frequent exchanges of high-level military delegations. Both sides held defense consultations and joint counter-terrorism Army training. At the same time, neighboring military commands as well as the border defense troops of the two sides conducted meetings and regular exchanges. Both sides also properly handled issues of encounter at the line of actual control and maintained peace and stability in the China-India border.
Next year, the Chinese and Indian militaries will continue to strengthen dialogue, exchange and cooperation, and push forward bilateral military relationship. In particular, we should focus our attention on the implementation of the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement signed by the two governments and ensure peace and stability along the China-India border.
On the specific exchange programs of the two militaries for the next year, both sides are still in the process of discussion.
Question: The Central Military Commission (CMC) inspection teams have spent one year and made inspection tours to the seven Military Area Commands (MAC) in three batches, carrying out inspections to the Party committees and their members. A number of important problems and clues have been found. Could you please tell us what are the important problems and clues that have been found? Will the individual cases of discipline and law violations be made public? And are there any plans to conduct inspections to other major organizations of the military in the future? It was reported that the PLA will increase the salary of officers and men from next year. Is it true?
Answer: On your first question, the media have reported on the issue and I do not have more information to share.
On your second question, there are lots of versions on the PLA’s salary increase recently. What needs to be pointed out is that the Chinese armed forces are a staunch pillar for safeguarding state sovereignty, security and development interests. The Party and state have always paid high attention to the welfare of the servicemen. To provide proper welfare and salary for the military will relieve them of their burdens and inspire them to better perform their duties.
Question: I have two questions. First, could you please brief us on the achievements that have been made in the military campaign against corruption? And what are the future plans for anti-corruption campaign? Secondly, the Chinese and U.S. Navies have conducted a joint exercise in the Gulf of Aden to train their abilities in putting into practice the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea. What is the result of the joint exercise? Will this kind of exercise be expanded into other sea areas?
Answer: On your first question, according to the overall plan of the Party Central Committee, the military will continue to deepen its anti-corruption campaign. There is no place for corrupt individuals in the military, and in terms of the anti-corruption campaign in the military, no matter who is involved or how high his/her position is, we will find them out and conduct appropriate punishment without tolerance.
In mid-December, the PLAN ship “Yuncheng” and “Chaohu” from the 18th Chinese naval escort taskforce conducted a joint training in the Gulf of Aden with the guided missile destroyer “Sterett” of the U.S. Navy. The subject of the drill was to apply the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, and this was the first time for the two sides to hold this kind of drill in that sea area, and it is conducive to strengthening mutual trust and avoiding misjudgment.
Question: According to US media, China has tested its Dongfeng-41 missile on the 13th of this month. It is commented that with the improvement of China’s missile technology and capability, it may change its policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Could you please comment?
Answer: China has the legitimate right to conduct scientific tests within its border and these scientific tests are not targeting any country or target. What needs to be pointed out is that China pursues a nuclear policy of self-defense and its policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons has not changed.
Question: Recently, during the annual conference of the Global Times, one Chinese delegate said that the Taiwan question should not be prolonged indefinitely, and the option of using force or taking military measure to solve the Taiwan question is also on the table when necessary. What is your comment?
Answer: Our position on the Taiwan question is consistent and clear, and in recent years cross-strait relations have maintained a good momentum of peaceful development, which is conducive to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. Our policy of pushing forward peaceful development of cross-straits relations will not change and our determination to stop the secessionist attempt of “Taiwan Independence” is unshakable.
Question: Recently, a military aircraft crashed in Weinan of Shannxi province, resulting in the death of two pilots. What is the latest progress in the investigation of the incident?
Answer: On the 22nd of December, an aircraft belonging to the national defense industry department, while conducting trial flight, crashed and the incident resulted in the unfortunate death of two pilots. We express our deep condolences to the two pilots who have passed away and our hearts and mind are with the families of the two pilots. Those who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of national defense will be cherished and remembered by us forever.
Question: The PLA has started to fully apply the professional training scheme for joint operational commanding officers. Could you please tell us the details about this professional training scheme? Is this part of the overall defense and military reform? Do you have any new information on the defense and military reform to release? Recently, a list of senior military officers’ position transfer has been circulating on the Internet and the list involves more than 40 intermediate and senior level military positions. Some analyses maintained that this position transfer is related to the anti-corruption movement in the military. Could you please confirm?
Answer: The joint operational commanding officers refer to officers capable of planning, commanding and coordinating joint operations involving different services and arms and involving all-dimension combat elements. And they are the main body to perform joint operational command.
After a trial period, the PLA is now applying the professional training scheme for joint operation commanding officers in the whole military. This scheme aims to optimize the command posts for joint operation commanding officers, conduct differentiated training for joint operation commanders and administrative officers, and for joint operation staff officers and other staff officers, and establish a new mechanism for the selection, training, evaluation and appointment of joint operation commanding officers, so as to improve the training of joint operation commanding officers.
According to the ordinances and regulations of the military, the PLA conducts personnel transfer of leading cadres among high-ranking officers every year. It is a normal personnel arrangement.
Question: Another question about North Korea. Recently, a retired Chinese general wrote a contribution to a newspaper and made critical comments about North Korea and said that China would not come to the aid of North Korea in the event if it collapsed. But he also said that China would never abandon North Korea. Does the defense ministry have any reaction to his comments? And also more broadly, can you tell us the current state of military relations between China and North Korea?
Answer: I found that you are quite interested in issues related to North Korea. I’d like to tell you that China’s position on developing friendly relationship with North Korea has been clear.
Question: Could you please tell us more about the Chinese PLA's contribution to the fight against Ebola in Western African countries and also brief us on the latest progress in the anti-Ebola vaccine that has been developed by the Biology Engineering Center of the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS).
Answer: Since mid-September, the Chinese military has successively sent about 300 medical staff, epidemic prevention experts and logistical personnel in various batches to countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia which are infected by the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. They are from the medical departments of the PLA General Logistics Department, the PLA 302 Hospital, the PLA Third Military Medical University, the Shenyang Military Area Command and so forth.
The Chinese medical teams have set up a 78-bed Ebola patient observation treatment center in Sierra Leone and 100-bed Ebola patient treatment center in Liberia, and the Chinese aid workers closely coordinated with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Doctors Without Borders Organization, the governments of the two countries and the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia.
The Chinese medical teams rotated every two month, and the 3rd batch of medical team to Sierra Leone and the 2nd batch of medical team to Liberia will conduct rotation in mid-January next year.
After the breakout of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, the scientific research team of the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences started its research and it has launched a project to develop a new type of vaccine for the Ebola virus.
Recently, the vaccine has passed the joint evaluation conducted by the military as well as the state, and the vaccine will start clinical trial this month. This is the third Ebola vaccine that has gone to clinical trial in the world, and is also the first vaccine of 2014 that involves genetic mutation.
Question: There is a dispute among different experts as to the level of modernization of the Chinese armed forces. Some people say that the Chinese armed forces are quite modern and advanced while others say that the Chinese armed forces are still about 30 to 40 years behind when compared with the most advanced militaries in the world. Do you have any comment or judgment as to the modernization level of the Chinese armed forces?
Answer: After many years of painstaking efforts, the modernization of the Chinese armed forces has made notable achievements. But, of course, in certain areas, we are still lagging behind when compared with the most advanced militaries in the world and more efforts need to be made.
Here concludes today’s press conference and the New Year is coming in a few days. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy New Year and all the best. See you next year.