Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on October 27, 2016. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)
Colonel Wu Qian:
Good afternoon, friends from the media. Welcome to the regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China on this rainy autumn day. I’d like to start by introducing some new friends present today: they are civil servants from Hong Kong taking a course in the China Foreign Affairs University and the Logistics College of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Today is rather cold, but we have some hot tea prepared at the corner of this conference hall. And if you like, you can take some and we can exchange our views on issues of common interests over a cup of tea. Thank you!
Today I have 5 pieces of announcement to make at the beginning.
The first one is about the visit of the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Defense Services Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s visit to China.
Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-chief of Myanmar Defense Services will lead a high- level military delegation to China for an official visit from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3. During the visit, he will meet and hold talks with state and military leaders of China, and exchange in-depth views with them on regional and international situation as well as military-to-military relations. The delegation will also visit relevant military installations.
The second one is about the Airshow China.
From Nov.1 to 6, the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China, will be held in Zhuhai City of Guangdong province. At the invitation of the Chinese side, the combined Knight and Swift Aerobatic Team of the Russia Aerospace Force, the British Royal Air Force Red Arrow Aerobatic Team and Pakistan Air Force will perform during this year’s exhibition.
Among the participating aerobatic teams, the Russia Knight and Swift combined formation, consisting of Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters, will stage its first international performance. Twelve Hawk trainers of the British Royal Air Force are also performing in China for the first time. Three JF-17s of the Pakistan Air Force will contribute to the performance. In addition, six J-10 fighter jets of the Chinese PLA Air Force August 1 Aerobatic Team will perform as well. This year, air forces of the four countries will perform on the same stage, making a new record in the history of Airshow China in terms of both the number of participating foreign aerobatic teams and the number of performing aircraft.
The third one is about the 9th Defense and Security Consultation between the defense ministries of China and Vietnam.
As has been mutually agreed, the 9th Defense and Security Consultation between the defense ministries of China and Vietnam will be held in Chengdu on Nov. 4. Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Defense Minister of Vietnam, will co-host the consultation. Both sides will exchange in-depth views on such issues of common concern as regional and international situation and military-to-military relationship.
The fourth one is about the second joint working group meeting of the QCCM.
The second joint working group meeting of the Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counter Terrorism by Afghanistan-China-Pakistan-Tajikistan Armed Forces/ Militaries (QCCM) will be held in Beijing from Nov. 8 to 10. During the meeting, all parties will exchange in-depth views on the specifics of their cooperation under the framework of the QCCM.
The QCCM aims to implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the 4 countries on strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation among regional countries, and to deepen such cooperation among the four militaries. It is not targeting any country or international organization. The Chinese side will make joint efforts with other parties to strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, and enhance capacity building in counter-terrorism, so as to push the QCCM toward substantial achievements.
The fifth one is on the China-US Joint HADR Live Troop Exercise and Academic Exchange.
In accordance with the agreement reached between the militaries of China and the US, the Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command Army and the US Army Pacific(USARPAC) will conduct a Joint HADR Live Troop Exercise and Academic Exchange in the Comprehensive Training Base of the Southern Theater Command in Kunming, Yunnan Province. The scenario of the joint exercise and exchange is professional disaster relief in high altitude regions. It consists of three phases, namely, academic exchange, command post exercise and live troop exercise. The two sides will send 223 officers and soldiers for the event, among whom 134 from the Chinese side and 89 from the US side.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: Recently, there were loads of reports concerning the first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier of China on the Internet. Could you please brief us on this?
Answer:The design and manufacturing of the first domestically manufactured aircraft carrier of China is pressing ahead according to plan. Currently, the overall design has completed and the bulk has taken its shape in the dock. Equipment and facility installation and outfitting are being conducted.
I talked about the outfitting just now, which might be unfamiliar to some of you. So I’d like to make some explanations. It means the installation of the ship gears and cabin equipment of the aircraft carrier.
Question: During his visit to China, Philippine President Duterte reached an agreement with the Chinese side that the two countries would go back to dialogue and consultation on the South China Sea issue. How would you comment on his remarks?
Secondly, media reports had it that a regiment of the 9th naval aviation division has been deployed to the Yongxing Island in the South China Sea. Could you please brief us on this?
Answer:On your first question, I will respond to it from the military perspective in general and that of the military-to-military relationship between China and the Philippines in particular. The healthy and stable development of the military-to-military relationship between China and the Philippines accords with the fundamental interests of the people of the two countries, and are conducive to regional peace and stability.
The armed forces of the two countries will earnestly implement the important consensuses reached between President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, remove obstacles, manage disputes, accumulate mutual trust and strengthen exchanges and cooperation, so as to make positive contributions to the development of bilateral relations.
If you want me to make comments on the recent China-Philippines military-to-military relationship, I’d like to say that the relationship seemed to be going nowhere, but we expect to find a way forward.
As for the second question, I’m not authorized to disclose the specifics of military deployment, but I’d like to stress that the Xisha Islands are Chinese territory and China has every right to make military deployment on its own territory.
Question: A US naval guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur recently intruded into the territorial waters of China’s Xisha Islands. It’s the first time that the 3rd Fleet of the US Navy has dispatched warship to Xisha Islands. It’s also a rare move after the WWII. How does the Chinese side view the recent approaching to the East Asia by the 3rd Fleet?
Secondly, the warplanes of Japan and the UK recently conducted their first joint military exercise. This is also the first time that the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force has conducted joint military exercise with a country other than the US on its own territory. The British Defense Secretary Fallon said that the joint military exercise between Japan and the UK showed that Japan was the closest security partner of the UK in Asia. How would you comment on this?
Answer:As to your first question, no matter it is the 3rd Fleet or the 7th Fleet, as long as they have compromised China’s sovereign rights and security interests, the Chinese armed forces will do whatever they can to safeguard China’s rights and interests.
As to your second question, it is China’s consistent position that bilateral military cooperation between relevant countries should not target any third party or compromise regional peace and stability.
Question: It is learned that the Chinese military is carrying out military drills in the South China Sea today. Could you please give us details on these drills? These drills are being conducted in the waters close to the Xisha Islands. Is this a reaction to the US naval patrol near the Islands last week?
Answer:On this question, I’d like to say that this training was conducted near the Hainan Island of China, and it is a joint search and rescue training included in the annual training plan.
Question: During the “2+2 meeting” which was held by the foreign and defense ministers of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the US , the two sides failed to agree on the long-term deployment of strategic weapons by the US in the ROK. It is said that the main obstacle was the sharing of financial expenditures. However, they decided through consultation that the US, Japan and the ROK would hold regular exercises on the early warning of missile launches. What is your comment?
Secondly, the Ministry of Defense of Japan said in the middle of this month that the Japanese Air Self Defense Force has scrambled its aircraft 594 times from April to September of this year to respond to foreign military aircraft’s intrusion of its territorial air. Most of the takeoffs have been conducted in response to Chinese military aircraft. What is your comment?
Answer:On your first question, in the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, any action to strengthen and expand military alliances will only intensify confrontation and is neither conducive to solving the problem, nor to regional peace and stability. We hope relevant parties can do more for regional peace and stability, rather than the contrary.
On your second question, we have noticed relevant reports. It should be pointed out that the maneuver and fight activities of Chinese military aircraft have been completely in line with international law and practice. On the contrary, the Japanese side has strengthened the reconnaissance and patrol against China.
Such high-frequency reconnaissance against China not only disturbs the routine training of the Chinese military but also undermines the security interests of China. What’s more dangerous is that the aircraft of Japanese Air Self-Defense Force switched on the fire control radars or even dropped an infrared countermeasure bomb during encounters with Chinese aircraft, which was unprofessional and dangerous provocation and which harmed the safety of the Chinese aircraft and personnel. This is the root cause triggering issues on maritime and airspace security between China and Japan. We urged the Japanese side to adopt a responsible attitude and take effective measures to avoid and prevent the maritime and airspace accidents and unexpected events.
Question: At the end of September, video clips and pictures shown by CCTV and other mainstream media revealed that a rocket force brigade had been equipped with the DF-21C medium range ballistic missiles. Does this mean that this type of missiles is now operational?
Answer:The PLA Rocket Force is the core strategic deterrence force of China. It is the strategic pillar for China’s major power status and it’s the important foundation for safeguarding national security. After many years of development, the PLA Rocket Force has become a lean and efficient strategic force with both nuclear and conventional capabilities. It has a weapon system that covers various ranges, ensuring effective deterrence. The PLA Rocket Force is playing an irreplaceable role in deterring war, creating a favorable national strategic environment and maintaining global strategic equilibrium and stability.
The PLA Rocket Force, in line with the requirement of possessing both nuclear and conventional missiles and being capable of maintaining cross-spectrum war deterrence, will continue to strengthen its strategic nuclear capability and medium and long range conventional missile precision strike capability so as to build a strong and modern rocket force. The PLA Rocket Force units are all capable of real combat operations and are confident and capable of safeguarding national sovereignty and security.
Question: The US Secretary of Defense Carter recently published an article in the US magazine “Foreign Affairs” titled The Rebalance and Asia-Pacific Security: Building a Principled Security Network. In the article it is written that “the US is committed to building a principled and inclusive security network in the region” and that “China’s model is out of step with where the Asia-Pacific wants to go; it reflects the region’s distant past, rather than the principled future the United States and many others want…” What is your comment?
Answer: We have taken note of this article. The China-related content in this article is filled with arrogance and prejudice against China, which does reflect the distant past of the cold war.
Mr. Carter continues to sell the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy, claiming it to be a rebalance that encompasses economic, diplomatic, and military approaches. However, what we see on the ground is an increased US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, increasingly frequent military exercises and training, beefed-up close reconnaissance against China, provocations by military aircraft and ships in the vicinity of China’s islands and reefs, and reinforced military alliances targeting the third party. If what has happened continues, there will be no balance. On the contrary, it will result in imbalance in regional situation
Mr. Carter has emphasized the word principle repeatedly in the article to make a point that China is violating the rules. In fact, the Chinese government has been consistently upholding principles. As early as in the 1950s, China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, and the Chinese government has always uphold principles enshrined in the UN Charter and other international norms governing international relations in its dealings with the international community. Instead, what the US has been upholding as a principle is quite simple and clear: self-interest. The UNCLOS has taken effect for more than 20 years, which is yet to be ratified by the US, who accuses other countries of violating principles. Isn’t this the logic of hegemonism?
Mr. Carter wrote about inclusiveness, which is a good thing in itself. However, what we see is only an inclusiveness toward its allies, which sometimes amounts to indulgence. As long as it is its ally, the US will unconditionally provide favor, regardless of the merits of the issue at hand. But to China and other non-allies, the US will not hesitate to make accusations through publishing articles or conducting military provocation, showing little signs of inclusiveness.
At the end of the article, Mr. Carter claimed that in the past 70 odd years, the US had been supplying security, which he likened to oxygen, for the world. We can’t help to ask a question: is it oxygen or smoke of gunpowder if we think about what the US troops have done in Korea and Vietnam, and in Iraq and Libya?
We hope certain people in the US can reflect on their own words and deeds before making accusations against other countries.
Question: Chinese and Indian troops recently conducted their first joint military exercise in the Ladakh region along the China-India border. This is a very rare military exercise between the two troops. How would you comment on this?
Answer:On October 19, China and India conducted a company-and-platoon-level humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) joint drill near the Moldo meeting point at the western section of the China-India border. I’d like to stress that China’s position on the Kashmir issue has not changed.
Question: On July 10, the Chinese peacekeeping units in South Sudan were attacked, and three months have passed. Could you please brief us on the work and security conditions of the Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan?
Answer:I will start by providing some basic statistics of the Chinese peacekeeping units in South Sudan.
Currently, there are all together 1,056 Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan, including one infantry battalion of 700 personnel, one engineering unit of 268 personnel, one medical unit of 63 personnel, and 25 staff officers and military observers working for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). According to the overall arrangement of the UN, the Chinese infantry battalion is under the command of the Southern Theater of the UNMISS, and is stationed in Juba, capital city of the country. Its main missions include guard and patrol, defense and protection, as well as the protection of civilians, UN personnel and humanitarian aid workers.
From July 8 to 12 when the South Sudanese government forces and the rebel forces had been engaged in battlefield, the Chinese infantry battalion, under the command of the UNMISS, had been mainly conducting five missions as guarding the Protection of Civilians Site 1 and the UN House, gathering and assisting refugees, guarding important targets and responding to emergencies. The Chinese infantry battalion has effectively ensured the safety of more than 9,000 refugees and UN employees.
Since the conflict erupted, the Chinese infantry battalion, while consolidating its own security, has made utmost efforts and has increased its contribution of troops to fulfill the missions entrusted by the UNMISS.
It has contributed 49,380 person/times, 5,810 vehicle/times, travelling a distance of 9,600 kilometers.
On Oct.18, the UNMISS held a ceremony to present peacekeeping medals to all members of the Chinese infantry battalion. Ms. Loej, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of the UNMISS expressed her gratitude for the great contribution that China has made for UN peacekeeping.
She said that the Chinese infantry battalion, with professional competence and a strong sense of commitment, had made enormous contribution and sacrifice for peace and stability in South Sudan.
Although ceasefire has been declared between the warring parties in South Sudan, skirmishes still prop up from time to time and the security situation is still fragile. Concerted efforts from the international community and all parties concerned are required to ease the tension in South Sudan.
I would like to conclude by saying that the Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan have withstood the test of danger and we hope that the situation in South Sudan can eventually become safe.
Question: My question is about the Zhuhai Airshow in China. Every year, the Chinese Air Force shows its new models of aircraft and even spacecraft. So, could you please disclose what new types of aircraft will be displayed in this year’s Zhuhai Airshow?
Answer:I have introduced to you the participating aerobatic teams of various countries. I would like to recommend you to raise the question to the organizing committee of this year’s Airshow China and they will give you a more authoritative reply.
Question: The high-level consultation on oceanic affairs between China and Japan was held in September in Japan and it was basically agreed that the 6th round of this consultation would be held within this year. Could you please tell us the specific date for the 6th round of consultation? And is there any progress in the establishment of the maritime and air liaison mechanism? And secondly, during President Duterte’s visit to Japan, he stated that the Philippines would not change its stance on the South China Sea arbitration case. How would you comment on this?
Answer:As for the high-level consultation on oceanic affairs, I do not have information to offer, and I suggest you to refer this question to competent authority. And for the maritime and air liaison mechanism, we hope that the Japanese side can remove the obstacles at an early date so as to reach consensus as soon as possible. I have responded to your second question when I talked about the mil-to-mil relationship between China and the Philippines. If you want more comments from a diplomatic perspective, I’d like you to refer the question to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Question: In mid October, President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to Cambodia. What are your expectations on the current and future military-to-military relations between China and Cambodia? What are the cooperation programs between militaries of the two countries next year?
You just said that China’s first home-built aircraft carrier is conducting outfitting and installation of relevant equipment. Do you have a timetable for the aircraft carrier to go to sea?
Answer:On your first question, in mid October, President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to Cambodia and reached important consensus with the Cambodian side on pushing forward China-Cambodia comprehensive friendly relations, which chartered the course for the future development of the military-to-military relationship between the two countries. The two armed forces are fellow-like good brothers and good friends who are always ready to lend helping hands to each other.
The Chinese and Cambodian armed forces will make concerted efforts in earnestly implementing the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, maintaining exchange of military delegations at various levels, deepening cooperation in personnel training, military drills, logistics and equipment, and strengthening coordination in multilateral security affairs so as to promote the military-to-military relations between the two countries to a new level, and score new achievements.
As for the follow-up development of the manufacturing of China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, we will offer information in due time.
Question: There were media reports that the audience saw relevant message that China has conducted tests on terminal missile defense technology in the TV reports during the launch of the Shenzhou spacecraft. Could you please comment on it?
Answer:China’s position on the issue of missile defense has been consistent and clear.
Question: Just now you mentioned that Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan were awarded medals by the UN. However, not long ago, an NGO based in the US released a report criticizing Chinese peacekeeping troops in South Sudan, and the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson then said that the UN was carrying out an investigation. How is the investigation going on?
Second question, many media reported that the PLA would have another pay raise recently. Please confirm.
Thirdly, you said that mil-to-mil relationship between China and the Philippines is expected to find a way forward. Is there any plan from the Philippine side to purchase weaponry and equipment from China during President Duterte’s China tour? The Philippines expressed that it will not hold joint military exercise with the US in future, is it possible for China’s and the Philippine armed forces to conduct joint exercises?
Fourthly, during President Duterte’s visit to Japan, the two sides signed military and economic deals. Prior to the deals, Japan had sold ten patrol ships to the Philippine side. What is your comment?
Answer:On your first question, we have learned that the UN’s report of investigation on peacekeeping troops of the UNMISS has not been finalized, and we will pay close attention to it.
As to your second question on the pay raise, I can confirm the news.
This pay raise is the 1st of its kind since the establishment of a state system to have regular pay raises. What needs to be pointed out is that salary of servicemen is decided by national policy, as well as social and economic development, with due consideration given to the nature of the military profession. To keep the salary of servicemen at an appropriate level will enable them to have less distraction and encourage all officers and soldiers to better perform their duties.
On your third question, when I talked about the mil-to-mil relationship between China and the Philippines, I said that it seemed to be going nowhere, but we are looking forward that we may find a way forward. As to the specific cooperation programs, I suggest you read the joint declaration signed between China and the Philippines.
In the joint declaration, it is stated that both sides agreed that defense and military cooperation are important components of bilateral relations. To enhance mutual trust, both sides agree to implement the China-Philippines MOU on Defense Cooperation through exchanges and cooperation in areas of humanitarian assistance, disaster alleviation and peacekeeping operations. Whether to put an end to the joint military exercises between the US and the Philippines is their own matter. Our position is that the military cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability.
On your fourth question, it is our consistent position that military and defense cooperation between countries should neither target any third party nor compromise regional peace and stability. I’d like to stress that countries outside the region should not interfere in the affairs of the region and they should do more to promote peace and stability in the region rather than to create chaos.
Question: Japan announced this month again that it would expand its military base in Djibouti and hoped to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean region. What is your comment? Secondly, when will the Chinese logistical support facilities being built in Djibouti be put into use?
Answer:On your first question, we have noticed relevant reports. Owing to historical reasons, the actions Japan takes in military and security fields are always closely monitored by its Asian neighbors and the international community. We hope that Japan can learn lessons from history, comply with the trend of the times, and embark on the road of peaceful development in an earnest manner.
On your second question, the construction of the Chinese support facilities in Djibouti is pressing ahead smoothly.
Question: Will the pay of the ex-servicemen be raised accordingly and will their welfare benefits be improved after the pay raise for active servicemen? Some veterans are facing temporary difficulties in their life. Will the military take measures to address their problems and improve their welfare benefits?
Answer:You mentioned the conditions of ex-servicemen just now. Indeed, some of them are facing temporary difficulties in life and work. The Party Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission care a lot about the well-being of the ex-servicemen and attach great importance to solving their problems.
A number of policies have been made and a number of measures have been taken towards this end. Party committees and governments at various levels put lots of efforts into improving the well-being of the ex-servicemen. The life and work conditions of some of them have improved.
We believe that with deepening reform, further economic development, continuing improvement of the social security system, and the gradual progress in the promulgation and implementation of relevant policies, the difficulties for some ex-servicemen will be resolved step by step.