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 January 29, 2015. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)
(The following English text of the 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 press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of this month.
Question: Could you please brief us on the major exercises and training activities that the PLA will conduct this year?
Answer: Not long ago, the General Staff Headquarters issued The Directive on Military Training in 2015, which made arrangements on this year’s military training.
The PLA will firmly uphold the criteria of improving fighting capacity in these training activities, deepen strategic and campaign training, strengthen mission-oriented and subject-oriented joint training, conduct training among different services and arms, strengthen modern warfare training at night, in complex electromagnetic environment, in special terrains and under extreme weather conditions, expand joint exercises, joint training and competition with foreign militaries, so as to improve the capability of winning local wars under informationized conditions.
The PLA troops will carry out these training and exercises in an orderly manner in accordance with the annual plan.
Question: It was reported that from February to April this year, the inspection teams of the Central Military Commission (CMC) will conduct disciplinary inspection to the Party committees of the People’s Armed Police Force, the PLA Navy and the PLA Air Force and conduct disciplinary inspection to the members of the Party committees. Could you please brief us on this issue? In the future, will more inspection teams of the CMC be sent to other general headquarters/departments and units of the PLA?
And according to a report of the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon has decided to delay major exchange activities between the two militaries and claimed that the U.S. would not conduct new military exchange activities with China before the agreement on rules for encounters between warplanes is reached. Could you please confirm and comment on this report?
Answer: As is approved by the Central Military Commission (CMC), inspection teams of the CMC will start inspection tours to the Party committees of the PLA Navy, the PLA Air Force, the PLA Second Artillery Force and the People’s Armed Police Force and conduct disciplinary inspection to the members of the Party committees from February to April this year. The inspection tours will strictly follow the procedures, requirements and methods stipulated in The Regulations on Work Related to the Disciplinary Inspection of the CMC. To conduct disciplinary inspection to the military is a mechanism introduced to improve the work style of the Party and fight against corruption in the military. In accordance with the annual plan, more down-to-earth inspections will be conducted this year and cover all major military organs and units.
The report of the Wall Street Journal sounds difficult to understand. In the year 2014, China and the U.S. achieved positive results in building new type of military-to-military relationship compatible with the new type of major-country relationship. The two sides have made new progress in the fields of high-level exchange of visits, joint training and exercises, and other institutionalized exchange programs. In particular, the two sides have signed the memorandums of understanding on establishing two confidence building measures mechanisms, which becomes a new highlight in the China-U.S. bilateral military ties.
In the new year, such good development momentum of the military-to-military relations between the two countries has been maintained. From January 12 to 19, the two militaries jointly conducted the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training in Guangzhou and Haikou of China and also the 10th Disaster Management Exchange was held concurrently. The Chief of Army of the U.S. PACOM, General Brooks, visited China and observed the joint exercise.
From January 25 to 28, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Michael G. Vickers visited China. During his visit, he said when meeting with the senior leaders of the Chinese military that the establishment of new type of military-to-military relationship between U.S. and China is a good thing for bilateral relations, adding that the two sides are expected to honestly implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries. Mr. Vickers also said that mutual respect is a very important principle in developing the U.S.-China bilateral relations and the U.S. side totally agrees with China in pushing forward the new type of relations between the two countries, both sides should maintain high-level dialogues and promote pragmatic cooperation so as to jointly maintain strategic stability.
In the new year, China is willing to work together with the U.S. to further implement the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and push forward the healthy and stable military-to-military relationship.
Question: News has been released that the children schools in the military will be suspended and stop operation. What is the consideration behind such decision? Could you tell us more on this topic? Secondly, could you share more information with us on the military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression?
Answer: Your first question is a question that many servicemen and their families care. Several Opinions on the Reform and Development of Children Schools and Kindergartens of the Military, a recent circular issued jointly by relevant military and civilian departments suggested that the children schools of the military, in principle, should be transferred to local governments or be suspended.
The reason for such decision is that, currently, there are 32 children schools in the military, half of which are located in large or medium-sized cities. In recent years, the state has increased funding into elementary education, which enabled civilian schools to enjoy much better infrastructure and educational resources than that of children schools of the military. In the year 2011, The Methods for Preferential Treatment in Education for Children of Servicemen was adopted, which gave very good policy support for the children of servicemen, allowing them to be admitted to schools in different localities. The civilian education resources are capable of meeting the needs of education for children of servicemen. The children schools in the military are therefore no longer needed. After the transfer or suspension, education resources will be better utilized.
As to your second question, the spokespersons of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have responded on several occasions, and I do not have more information to share.
Question: It is learned that the Minister of National Defense of China will visit the Republic of Korea (ROK) recently. Could you please confirm?
Answer: At the invitation of Han MinKoo, Minister of National Defense of the ROK, and General Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Thailand, General Chang Wanquan, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense of China, will pay a friendly visit to the two countries from February 3 to 7, 2015.
The purpose of the visit is to exchange views with government and military leaders of the ROK and Thailand on strengthening defense cooperation and other issues of common interests, so as to further promote the development of military-to-military relations.
Question: The normal practice in China is that every ten years during the National Day, there will be a grand military parade. Will there be any change to such a common or normal practice this year? If you do hold a military parade this year, what will be the purpose and meaning of the parade?
Answer: I can see that you are really interested in this topic. But I have already answered a similar question and I do not have more information to share.
Question: I have two questions. The first is on the military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Retired PLA Major General Luo Yuan suggested that there should be a veteran square in the parade, consisting of veterans from the Kuomintang who took part in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. What is your comment?
Secondly, the Global Times cited an article of the Jane’s Defense Weekly which said that the military base that China is building in the Nanji Island(s) near Pingyang county, Zhejiang province, is not targeting the Diaoyu Islands as many western media had suggested, but rather aiming at Taiwan . What is your comment?
Answer: On the first question, I have already said that I am sorry that I do not have any new information to share. As to your second question, spokespersons of the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have both responded to this issue. Neither of the two kinds of interpretations that you have mentioned, whether the construction is targeting the Diaoyu Islands or the construction is targeting Taiwan, is correct.
We think that under the background of peaceful development in cross-strait relations, it goes against the good momentum of development in cross-strait relations to hype up the so-called military threat from the mainland against Taiwan.
And I’d like to make an additional comment. Some foreign commentators are really prone to hype up the legitimate activities of the Chinese military. Indeed, they have gone out of their way to hype up such topics. But they will not win applause by doing so.
Question: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Anti-Fascist War as well as China’s victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Will the Chinese military conduct commemorative activities this year? And also China and Russia have agreed to conduct joint activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Anti-Fascist War. Will the Chinese military take part in these activities?
Answer: I do not have any more information to share on this topic.
Question: According to reports, the defense ministries of China and Japan held the 4th round of expert consultation on establishing the Maritime Liaison Mechanism in mid January. What consensus have been reached between the two sides in this round of consultation? When will the mechanism be established? Will China and Japan resume defense exchanges in other fields as well?
Answer: In mid January, the defense ministries of China and Japan held in Tokyo the 4th round of expert consultation on establishing the Maritime Liaison Mechanism. The two sides reached four consensus.
First, both sides confirmed the consensus reached on establishing the mechanism in the previous rounds of consultations including the objective, composition, operational measures and related technical regulations.
Second, both sides agreed to change the name of the mechanism. The Chinese side proposed to change the name of the mechanism from “Maritime Liaison Mechanism” to “Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism”. The Japanese side agreed to the proposal. The change will facilitate the two sides to conduct exchange of consultation on both maritime and air security issues.
Third, both sides agreed that the mechanism should be operative as early as possible since technical conditions for launching the mechanism have already been met.
Fourth, consensus has been reached on improving the code of communication.
I’d like to stress that defense relationship is an important and sensitive part of the bilateral relations between China and Japan. Not long ago, both sides reached a four-point principled agreement on improving bilateral relations. Japan should honor its commitment and take concrete measures to accumulate more positive elements for the improvement and development of bilateral relations, including the defense relationship.
Question: We have noticed that the anti-corruption campaign in the military has been intensified recently. Could you please brief us more on the new progress in establishing institutional and structural guarantees for corruption prevention and punishment in the military?
Answer: Since the 18th Party Congress, the military has made continued efforts to administer the armed forces according to law and enforce strict discipline, and conducted an intensive anti-corruption campaign.
Such regulations and documents as The Work Plan to Act on the Order of the Party Central Committee and Build a Corruption Punishment and Prevention System in the Military, The Detailed Regulation on Preventing Crimes Involving Taking Advantage of Duty in Key Areas within the Military, and The Regulation on Introducing the Liability Mechanism in the Military in Improving Work Style and Fight Corruption, have been adopted.
A systematic working mechanism has been set up, which combines inspection tours, discipline supervision, auditing, and legal punishment. These efforts aim to establish institutional guarantee for corruption prevention and punishment, and better regulate the use of power, so as to provide a solid foundation for reinvigorating the military.
Question: In mid January, the PLA publicized 16 cases of corruptions involving high-ranking military officers at one stroke. What is the consideration behind such publicity? Will the military continue to keep the public updated on its anti-corruption campaign?
The second question is that according to the news from the PLA Daily on January 29, 2015, the clues transferred for legal proceedings by the Chinese military auditing department in the year 2014 exceeded the total number of the past 30 years combined. Are you surprised at this number when you read the news?
The third question is that although the Chinese side has not made the decision if it is going to hold a military parade, Russia is going to hold one in May this year. By then, will any Chinese active duty servicemen or veterans be present at the Red Square in Moscow?
Answer: Since the 18th Party Congress, the Party Central Committee, the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China and President Xi, with a strong sense of commitment to the cause of the Party and the military, and a clear-cut stance of zero-tolerance against corruption, have investigated and prosecuted a number of major corruption cases in the military. These actions have dealt a heavy blow to corrupt individuals in the military and have won whole-hearted support from the rank and files.
Not long ago, we released information on the investigation and prosecution of major cases of corruption involving major-general and higher level officers in 2014. It demonstrated the substantial results the military achieved in its anti-corruption campaign and the firm determination of enforcing strict discipline throughout the Party and the military.
Such publicity is conducive to deterring corrupt behavior in the military and forging a strong momentum in corruption prevention and punishment. It is also an act of responding to the public’s concern and showing the military’s sincere willingness to put itself under the scrutiny of the general public. Future cases of corruption in the military will be made public in accordance with relevant regulations and the process of investigation and prosecution, and in line with the principle of not endangering military secrets and not affecting the process of legal and disciplinary proceedings.
On your second question, since the 18th Party Congress, the Party committees and audit organs of the PLA and the People’s Armed Police Force have acted upon orders of CMC Chairman Xi Jinping and the Central Military Commission to further strengthen the work related to auditing. They have made more efforts to expose problems, inspect the military, correct wrongdoings and punish corrupt officers, stepped up reforms on relevant systems and mechanisms, and have achieved notable achievements in this regard, and, therefore, provided better guarantee for building a strong military.
You asked about my mood when hearing the news. What I can say is that, as an ordinary member of the PLA, I fully support such efforts made in the anti-corruption campaign.
On your third question concerning the commemorating activities of the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Anti-Fascist War to be held jointly by China and Russia during this year, the spokespersons of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have responded. There is no more information that I can share with you.
Question: A number of senior military officers from the Kuomintang fought the Japanese during the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. And later in the civil war, they fought with the Communist Party of China. Recently, the body of the deceased Kuomintang Major General Zhang Lingfu, who used to be the commander of the 74th Division of the Kuomintang Party, has triggered a lot of controversy and discussion. Will the Chinese military help relocate the body of Mr. Zhang Lingfu from Shandong toShaanxi province, his hometown? How do you comment on the Kuomintang military officers and soldiers, who fought with the Japanese invaders as well as with the Communist Party of China in the past, and their descendants?
Answer: I think they are actually the same question. The histories of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Chinese People’s War of Liberation are quite clear. I’m not going to comment on certain individuals in the history.
Question: Earlier there was a question about the construction on the Nanji Islands, and you said that the construction was not directed at the Diaoyu Islands which are known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, and it was also not directed against Taiwan. Can you tell us the purpose of the construction?
Answer: I have said that the construction on the Nanji Islands is a legitimate activity conducted within Chinese territory, and there is no necessity to over-interpret such construction.
Question: It is reported that the United States is helping India in intelligence gathering on China’s naval submarine activities in the Indian Ocean. What might be the impact of such intelligence exchange on the military-to-military relationship between India and China?
Answer: Actually I have noticed the report that you have mentioned. Acting in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, the Chinese military has sent various kinds of naval ships to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast to conduct escort missions since 2008. And in the process, we have notified relevant countries of the escort missions of the PLA naval ships, including the PLA naval submarines. In the future, the Chinese military willsend different kinds of naval ships to take part in the naval escort missions in accordance with the situation and the requirement to fulfill the task. These are quite normal activities and there is no need to read too much into them.
Question: Foreign media reported that the United States and the Philippines conducted the annual strategic dialogue in Manila on 22nd of this month, during which they continued to criticize China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea and again asked China to suspend the reclamation. At the same time, a group of pictures published on the internet showed that the land reclamation on the Yongshu Reef has been basically completed with the area of the Reef expanded to 2.2 square kilometers. What is your comment?
Answer: The construction and infrastructure maintenance on the reefs and islands in the South China Sea are legitimate and conducted in accordance with law. Other countries have no right to point fingers at such construction activities.
Question: It is reported that Japan is going to build a semi-permanent military base in Djibouti, East Africa, which aims to monitor Chinese naval ships’ activities, including the naval escort missions in surrounding waters. What is your comment?
Answer: We have noticed relevant reports and we hope Japan can learn lessons from the history and do more for peace and stability.
Question: From what you said about the submarines and the surveillance in Indian Ocean, can I presume that now there will be more Chinese naval activities in Indian Ocean? And also, there was also criticism or question marks raised on what was the purpose of submarine deployment in anti-piracy operations. How China explains the participation of submarines in such activities?
Answer: Just as what I have said, China has sent various types of naval ships to take part in the escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast since 2008. And different types of naval ships play different roles in missions.
You also mentioned Chinese naval activities in the far seas. It is indeed true that China has sent more naval ships to the far seas and conducted many operations including the naval escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast. And also, the Chinese Navy has provided humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and medical services for relevant countries and areas, and conducted search and rescue operations in international waters.
By doing so, the Chinese Navy is providing more public security services to the international society, which is conducive to maintaining global peace and promoting common development.
Question: Firstly, you have said that the China-U.S. relations maintain good momentum of development and the China-Japan mil-to-mil relations have actually resumed recently. It is commented that the purpose of this year’s military parade in China is to deter both the United States and Japan. What is your comment?
Secondly, Hong Kong has set up the Hong Kong Army Cadets Association Limited on January 18 and some people say that this marks the starting point for allowing Hong Kong citizens to join the PLA. Could you please comment on that?
Answer: As to your first question, I really do not feel it necessary to repeat what I have said. As to your second question, I think what you are referring to is the issue of Hong Kong citizens joining the PLA. Since the return to the motherland, Hong Kong citizens have had a deepened understanding of the country and the PLA. Some of them have demonstrated strong willingness to join the PLA to make contributions to national defense. The current conscription law of China does not apply to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Therefore, there is no legal basis for allowing Hong Kong citizens to join the PLA. However, we appreciate the willingness of Hong Kong citizens to join the PLA.
Finally, I have an announcement to make: There will be no regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense in February because of the Spring Festival. Regular press conferences will resume in March. Time flies, and a new year on the Chinese lunar calendar is just around the corner. I would like to wish you a happy new year and all the best. In the past year, all of you present here, our friends from the media, have given us much care, support and cooperation. We have also received a lot of encouragement from the public. I would like to convey our sincere gratitude to all of you.
We are keenly aware that our work needs to be improved in many regards and I would greatly appreciate your constant support and help.
We are looking forward to more of your insights. We cherish every moment that we share with you, and are looking forward to working together with you in pushing forward related work of international communication of the Ministry of National Defense.