Defense Ministry's regular press conference on May 26

Source: MODEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-05-26 20:44

Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on May 26, 2016. ( 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:

Question: On the 23rd of this month, the United States announced that it had fully lifted the arms embargo against Vietnam. Although President Obama denied that such a lifting of the ban was targeting China, all media reports mentioned China, commenting that this would undoubtedly enrage China. What is your comment?

Answer: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already responded to the question you raised. We noticed that the American side said on many occasions that arms embargo was a reflection of the cold war mentality. In reality, the United States is still unilaterally pursuing arms embargo against certain countries. We think that the United States should get rid of the cold war mentality and stop such outdated practice.

Question: Recently, the Wei Zexi incident has attracted much public attention, and through this incident some problematic outsourcing by certain departments of military hospitals to civilian companies has been exposed. Could you please brief us on the latest progress of the investigation of the incident and what kind of measures will be taken in the next step by the military?

Answer: Wei Zexi, a young man in the very flush of his youth, passed away as the result of illness. It is really unfortunate. Relevant civilian and military authorities have investigated and held accountable the Second Hospital of the Beijing Armed Police Corps which was involved and made public the results. At the same time, in accordance with relevant requirements of deepening reform and fully stopping paid services of the PLA and the Armed Police Force (APF), the Logistic Support Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC) has instructed the medical institutions of the PLA and the APF to rigorously implement relevant regulations, and earnestly conduct rectification. And management of military medical institutions will be further tightened. At present, acting on the CMC decision to fully stop paid services of the PLA and the APF, relevant authorities are making further efforts to root out outsourcing programs.

Question: Recently, Tsai Ing-wen assumed office as the leader of Taiwan region. In her inaugural speech, she didn’t clearly recognize the 1992 Consensus and acknowledge its core essence. Rumor has it that the PLA is going to hold large-scale military exercises aiming at deterring "Taiwan independence" forces. What is your comment?

Answer: On the question you have raised, like what was said by the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on May 20, we are today as determined as ever and more capable to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will resolutely contain any action and attempt by the secessionists for “Taiwan independence".

Question: The Pentagon accused two Chinese aircraft of performing unsafe maneuver when they intercepted the US surveillance plane while it was flying in the air space near Hainan Province. The Chinese Ministry of Defense commented on this by saying that it would investigate this report. Would you please brief us on the progress of the investigation? How will the Chinese side describe the incident and what is your comment?

Answer: On the incident that you have mentioned, accusation made by the US side is groundless. The US spy plane flew close to the airspace of China’s Hainan Island for espionage. The Chinese military aircraft conducted identification and verification in accordance with relevant regulations and rules. Their maneuver was in line with professional standard, and accorded with the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters signed by China and the US.

What needs to be pointed out is that the US always likes to distort facts and draw media attention to the distance between the military aircraft of the two sides. But in essence, the root cause for security hazards and potential accidents in the air and at sea between China and the US is the long term, large-scale and frequent close-in reconnaissance activities against China by the U.S. military vessels and aircraft. China urges the US to stop the close-in reconnaissance activities to avoid such incidents from happening again.

Question:There was a close encounter between the US reconnaissance plane EP-3 and the Chinese aircraft this month. The closest distance between the aircraft of the two sides is only 15 meters. Have the two confidence-building mechanisms between China and the US been launched to avoid similar dangerous encounters?

Answer: I noticed that you described the incident as a close encounter between the Chinese and US aircraft in your question. But, to put it more accurately, the incident is the United States’ close-in reconnaissance against China. Just as I have mentioned, to such close-in reconnaissance against China by the US military aircraft, the Chinese side has taken necessary and professional countermeasures. On the issue of maritime and air safety in the South China Sea, the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters signed between China and the US only provides technical regulations. If the problem is to be solved once and for all, the United States must stop its close-in reconnaissance against China.

Question:After assuming office in Taiwan region on May 20th, the Tsai Ing-wen administration expressed that it would not hold an official stance on whether the Japanese-called Okinotorishima should be an “island” or a “reef”, which is remarkably different from the former Ma Ying-jeou administration’s stance on the issue. So, if the Tsai Ing-wen administration changes its stance and waives Taiwan’s claim to the sovereignty of the South China Sea or the East China Sea, will the PLA take military actions to seize the Taiping Island which is now garrisoned by Taiwan troops?

Answer: Our policy and position on this kind of issue is consistent and known to all. It is the common responsibility of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Question: The Rim of the Pacific 2016 joint naval exercise will be held in waters of Hawaii next month. I’m wondering if the incident of close-in reconnaissance of the US spy plane may affect China’s participation in the exercise. If not affected, what kind of military force would China send this time to take part in the exercise? Whether the Type 052D destroyer that has conducted annual training in neighboring waters will be sent to take part in the Rim of the Pacific 2016 joint naval exercise?

Answer: On China’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2016 joint naval exercise, China and the US are conducting interactions and coordination on relevant issues. As to the details of the arrangement, we will offer information in due time.

Question: The United States has been speeding up its military deployment around the South China Sea. How will China respond? And we know that China has always been an advocate of peaceful settlement and China has been very restrained on this issue. However, if the US continues its deployment or some other countries take more provocative actions, will China still remain restrained? And under what circumstances will China fight back?

Answer: Actually, we have reiterated many times our stance and policy on the South China Sea issue. China has sovereignty over the relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its adjacent waters. We are committed to solving the disputes through direct consultation and friendly negotiation with parties directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and in line with international law. On the other hand, we are resolved to safeguarding territorial integrity and protecting the country’s maritime interests and rights. Certain countries outside the region frequently show its military strength in the South China Sea area and this is actually the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region. We urge them to stop stirring up a storm in a teapot and stop sowing seeds of discord so as to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, which conforms to the common interests of all parties.

Question: The recent news said that frictions between China and the US had caused tension in the South China Sea, and under this circumstance, the PLA has deployed missile launching vehicles of at least four battalions in Xiamen of Fujian Province and these launching vehicles are capable of launching DF-21D ballistic missiles. Do you have any confirmation about the reports?

Answer: Your question reminded me that there was a similar video clip on the Internet. Many netizens have found that the video was a fake one.

Question: The International Tribunal may make a ruling on the arbitration on the South China Sea initiated by the Philippines in the coming weeks. It is generally speculated that the ruling may not be favorable to China, but the impact will be limited. What might be the impact of the ruling on China?

Answer: On the issue of the international arbitration initiated by the Philippines on the South China Sea, the Chinese government has issued relevant position papers and officials of the Foreign Ministry of China have been interviewed by the media on numerous occasions. I’d like to stress here that no matter what kind of ruling the Court makes, China will not accept nor recognize the adjudication. In fact, China is not the first country not to accept nor implement the international arbitration in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. This is China’s right conferred by the international laws. By doing so we are actually abiding by and observing the international laws. During the press conference, I may not have enough time to elaborate on the stance of China on this issue. If you are interested, you can refer to relevant papers of the government for more information.

Question: President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima tomorrow has raised an arguement about the decision to drop the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the World War II. I was just wondering if the Chinese Ministry of Defense has any comments on that debate or related issues. I also follow up on an arms embargo question. China is calling for lifting, does that include lifting of the US embargo on arms sales to China. What would China like to see the US do about that?

Answer: I think the history of World War II is unchangeable. As to the specific visit to Hiroshima, I think we are still waiting to see what kind of arrangement will be made. As to the question of arms embargo, I think I’ve already responded.

Question: This morning, the Defense Ministry released the information about the Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Gen. Fan Changlong’s inspection tour to Haerbaling. Does the inspection show that China thinks highly of the work done by the Japanese side to deal with abandoned chemical weapons? President Obama is to visit Hiroshima tomorrow. Is it a coincidence? How would you comment?

Answer: I think the two questions you have raised are actually the same. We have released one piece of information through the official micro-blog of National Defense Release and also the Ministry of National Defense official website . This morning, according to the work plan for the year, Gen. Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, along with the leaders from relevant military and civilian departments, went to Haerbaling of Dunhua City, Jilin Province and inspected the site for excavating and destroying chemical weapons abandoned by Japan.

During Japan’s War of Aggression against China, Japan used a large number of chemical weapons, leading to injuries and deaths of innocent Chinese people . Just before its defeat, it abandoned a large number of unused chemical weapons in China, which has posed serious threat to life and property of the local people and also to the ecological environment of the site. Gen. Fan’s inspection tour to the site of the chemical weapons abandoned by Japan is the demonstration of the great importance that the leaders of the Central Military Commission attach to the work. And the Chinese armed forces will provide strong support to related work so as to clear the chemical weapons and return to the people a clean and healthy land.

Question: The Shangri-La Dialogue is to be held in Singapore next week. Have the members of the Chinese delegation been confirmed and who will lead the Chinese delegation to attend the dialogue?

Answer: On China’s participation in the Shangri-La Dialogue, relevant office is coordinating with the host and we will share more information with you when it is available.

Senior Colonel Yang Yujun: If there is no more questions, I’d like to do some advertising at the end of today’s press conference. Today is May 26th, and is the first anniversary of the National Defense Release Microblog and Wechat account. During the past year, netizens have rendered us great support and encouragement. Your attention is our motivation and your expectation is where our work should focus on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To celebrate the 1st birthday of our “baby”, we have launched a Q&A session on the Wechat official account to solicit questions and advices from the netizens. So far, we have got a large number of responses and we are also going to make some adjustments to the contents and layout of our National Defense Release Microblog and Wechat account based on the suggestions given by the netizens.

We have also selected one representative question from the netizens to respond here.

The question was raised by a netizen called “FIGHTER”, saying that ”the weaponry and equipment of the Chinese armed forces have developed by leaps and bounds, and I don’t doubt the capability of our military. But our troops haven’t fought a single battle for several decades, are we still able to fight? With an increasingly tense regional and international situation, are we prepared for all kinds of challenges, even war?”

This is quite an interesting question. The Chinese military hasn’t fought a war for decades. The fundamental reason is that China is not a country that worships military power or thirsty for war. We adhere to the path of peaceful development, and pursue a national defense policy which is defensive in nature.

Most of our officers and men, those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s in particular, haven’t experienced battlefield. But in real-life operations for safeguarding national sovereignty, counter-terrorism and contingency response, international peacekeeping, naval escort, and overseas evacuation, they have proven themselves to be up to the test of life and death, as well as blood and fire.

In particular, since the 18th National Party Congress, we have upheld the war fighting capability as the utmost criterion, and conducted realistic and rigorous training. The morale, weaponry and equipment, personnel competence, and the level of training have all improved notably, resulting in a substantial upgrade of core military capability.

So the question from the netizen was: are we still able to fight? My answer is: we are not the aging fighter Lian Po, we are soldiers with courage and strength. We are not only capable of fighting, but also good at fighting.

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