(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang: Dear friends from the press, good afternoon! Welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has just concluded, and I believed all friends should be interested in this topic. So I would like to start this conference with a brief introduction on how the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and China’s Armed Police Force are studying and implementing the spirit of the Congress.
The 19th CPC National Congress is a historic meeting held during the decisive stage when China is securing a victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the critical moment as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.
Comrade Xi Jinping’s report provides profound answers to the major questions of what type of socialism with Chinese characteristics that China should adhere to and develop in a new era, and how should China do it. The report sketches out the magnificent blueprint to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era. Pointing out the direction for the development of the Party and the country, the report significantly unites the Party, encourages the people and inspires the military.
The Congress elected a new Central Committee and a Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, and adopted the resolution on the report of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the resolution on the report of the work of the 18th Central Commission for discipline inspection and the resolution on the revised constitution of the CPC. The first plenum of the 19th CPC Central Committee elected the new leadership of the Central Committee. All the officers and men of the Chinese PLA resolutely support these resolutions and the results of the elections.
According to the requirement of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Chinese PLA and the China’s Armed Police Force earnestly organized the military to watch or listen to the Congress sessions, and to study and discuss the spirit of the Congress, through which the spirit of the Congress is quickly spread in Chinese military barracks and camps.
The past 5 years witnessed the creation of the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics led by President Xi, and historic changes and achievements in the Chinese Communist Party, our country and the military. In particular, the members of the military are elated and proud that the political integrity of the people’s forces has seen substantial improvement, that the military organization and force system have been restructured in a revolutionary way, that the military preparedness have made significant progress, and that China has taken solid strides on the path of building a powerful military with Chinese characteristics.
The Congress chartered the course that China will stick to the Chinese path of building a strong military, fully implement President Xi’s thinking on strengthening the military, adapt the military strategy to new conditions, fully advance the modernization of national defense and the military, and transform China’s armed forces into world-class forces. Filled with enthusiasm and confidence, all the officers and men of the military are ready to more resolutely implement the duties and tasks of the military in the new era.
A wave of studying and implementing the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress is now sweeping across the Chinese PLA and the Armed Police Force. We will resolutely implement the decisions and the deployments of the CPC Central Committee, the CMC, and President Xi, and take the lead in earnestly studying and implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. We will fully implement Xi Jinping Thinking on Strengthening the Chinese Military, enhance our political loyalty, strengthen the armed forces through reform and technology, and run the military in accordance with the law. We will also expand and deepen military preparedness, further advance military-civilian integration, and continuously enhance our capabilities to effectively carry out the duties and tasks in the new era in our relentless strive toward the goal of the Party to build a strong military in the new era, and transform the Chinese military into world-class forces.
Now the floor is open for questions!
Question: Recently, the Chinese military issued the Measures to Open the Military Barracks of the PLA, which allows relevant military units, with approval, to open their barracks to the public during major holidays. Could you please brief us on the background and the arrangements in the next step?
Answer: Thanks for your interests in the development of national defense and the military. President Xi pointed out in his report to the 19th CPC National Congress that our military is the military of the people and our national defense is the responsibility of every one of us. Not long ago, the CMC approved and issued the Measures to Open the Military Barracks of the PLA, which clarifies the leadership, the approval procedure and authority as well as the timing and content of the opening of military barracks to the public. According to the Measures, relevant military units can open their barracks to the public during major holidays. Such measures will raise public awareness of the importance of national defense and strengthen the unity between the government and the military, and between the people and the military. It will enable the public to have close contact with the fine traditions and work styles of our military, feel the great achievements in the development of national defense and the military, deepen their feelings towards the people’s forces and enhance the sense of honor and sense of responsibility of military personnel. In the next step, we will see through the implementation of the regulation and we welcome more citizens to visit military barracks and get close to the people’s forces.
Question: Will the Chinese military continue to increase its military deployments in the South China Sea?
Answer: First of all, I’d like to clarify that our island construction and building of necessary defense facilities in the South China Sea is by no means the expansion of military deployment. It is clear that China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands and adjacent waters in South China Sea. It is fully justified and lawful for China to strengthen the construction of necessary defense facilities on islands in the South China Sea within our own sovereignty. As the situation in the South China Sea is cooling down and showing the momentum of positive development, all parties concerned should make concerted efforts to maintain the peace and stability in the region.
Quesion: Could you please brief us on General Chang Wanquan’s attendance to the 7th China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting and the important consensuses reached with the countries concerned during the meeting? The19th CPC National Congress has adopted the Revised Party Constitution, which clarifies that the Chairperson of the Central Military Commission assumes overall responsibility over the work of the Commission and that the Central Military Commission is responsible for Party work and political work in the armed forces. What is your comment on the significance of the amendment?
Answer: At the invitation of the Philippine Defense Secretary Mr. Lorenzana, General Chang Wanquan, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, led a delegation to attend the China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Informal Meeting and the ADMM-Plus held in the Philippines and paid an official goodwill visit to the Philippines from Oct. 23 to 25.
During the meetings and the visit, General Chang mainly introduced President Xi Jinping’s new thoughts, new concepts and new initiatives on diplomacy and the relevant information of the 19th CPC National Congress and elaborated on China’s foreign policy toward neighboring countries and proposals for regional security cooperation.
The Chinese military will continue to strengthen its friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation with militaries all over the world including those of Asia-Pacific countries, deepen mutual understanding and trust, and promote the in-depth development of regional multilateral security dialogue mechanism, so as to jointly maintain regional and world peace and stability and achieve common prosperity.
About your second question, China and the ASEAN members have reached a preliminary consensus to hold the technical consultation within this year and the joint military exercise at an appropriate date according to the result of the consultation.
About your third question, the Resolution of the 19th CPC National Congress on the Revised Constitution of the CPC clarifies that the Chairperson of the Central Military Commission assumes overall responsibility over the work of the Commission and that the Central Military Commission is responsible for Party work and political work in the armed forces. It complies with the realistic requirement to ensure the CMC fulfills its responsibility for Party self-supervision and self-governance after the military reform.
All the officer and men of the military will unswervingly adhere to the fundamental principle and mechanism of the Party’s absolute leadership over the military, resolutely safeguard the authority, safeguard the core of the Party, firmly safeguard and implement the CMC chairperson’s overall responsibility system, resolutely obey the command of the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and President Xi, and resolutely fulfill the sacred missions entrusted by the Party and the people.
Question: During the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus, the Russian defense minister met with his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, and the Russian defense minister claimed that both sides have agreed to lift up the bilateral relations to a new height. We have noticed that not so long ago, the Chinese and Russian militaries held a joint briefing on missile defense. Could you please brief us on the specific measures the two militaries will take within this year to promote their pragmatic cooperation?
My second question is about the administration for veterans mentioned in the Report to the 19th CPC National Congress. Could you please brief us on the composition of this administration? And is there any time-line for its establishment?
Answer: This year, the mil-to-mil relations between China and Russia remain at a high level. The two militaries have conducted strategic consultations, three joint briefings on missile defense and two phases of joint maritime exercises. The Chinese side participated in the International Military Games held in Russia, and for the first time hosted several events of the Games. Besides, another joint computer-assisted missile defense drill between the two militaries is scheduled to be held within the year, and both China and Russia will work together to further promote the development of our mil-to-mil relations.
With regard to the second question, the relevant department will release information in due course.
Question: US Defense Secretary Mattis is visiting some Asian countries. Could you please confirm if he will visit China within the year?
Answer: The relevant departments of the two sides are now in close contact to coordinate the visits between the defense ministers of China and the US.
Question: According to media reports, the military has recently released the strictest alcohol ban in history. Could you please brief us on the background of this regulation and its effects so far? The third question is about the administration for veterans in the Report to the 19th CPC National Congress. Could you please brief us on its relationship with the current departments dealing with veteran affairs such as the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security? Are they of the same level or will it take over part of the responsibilities of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security? How will such an administration work to make military service an occupation enjoy public respect. Is there any possibility for the long-awaited Law for Ex-service Men to be put on the agenda?
Answer: To fully implement the requirement by the CPC Central Committee and President Xi on governing the Party and the military fully and strictly, the CMC issued to the PLA and the Armed Police Force the Regulation on the Prohibition of Unapproved Dinner and Alcohol Drinking. The Regulation draws experience from the achievements of the conduct of the military since the 18th CPC National Congress and specifies a negative list of one conduct not allowed and eleven conducts strictly prohibited. As the practical measure to implement the 8 Regulations of the CPC Central Committee, and the 10 Regulations of the CMC, the Regulation highlights its universal and full-time application to the military and emphasizes the strictest requirement on the leaders at various levels and strict enforcement of the discipline. Since the enforcement one month ago, officers and men of the military firmly support and strictly abide by the Regulation, forming a more healthy and upward work and life style. In our future effort to govern the military fully and strictly, we will combine strict implementation of the Regulation with the implementation of the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress, to fully eliminate unapproved dinners and alcohol drinking so as to better fulfill the duties and tasks in the new era entrusted by the Party and the people.
We, the officers and men of the armed forces, are deeply touched and inspired by President Xi’s proposal in the Report to the 19th CPC National Congress to make military service and occupation enjoy public respect. This shows the great care for the military personnel from the Party Central Committee, President Xi and all Chinese people. We are determined to live up to the expectations of the Party and the people, inherit and carry forward the fine traditions of the PLA and set good examples of revolutionary officers and men of the new era with faith, ability, courage and integrity. We will strive to enhance our capability to effectively carry out duties in the new era, serve the people whole-heartedly, resolutely complete all tasks entrusted by the Party and the people, safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests and maintain regional and world peace and stability.
I have answered the question about the administration for veterans.
Question: According to the Report to the 19th CPC National Congress, the Chinese military will further open up to the outside world. Could you please brief us on the plan in the next step for the international military cooperation of the PLA?
Answer: The international military cooperation of the Chinese military will follow the guidance of Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military and fully implement the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress in future practices. We will, as always, stay loyal to the Party in fulfilling our duties, forge ahead with pioneering spirit to undertake our responsibility, serve the overall political interests of our country and contribute to the development of military and national defense. We will actively safeguard and expand China’s national strategic interests, build and protect the fine images of China and its armed forces. By forging a new platform for international military cooperation, we will strive to contribute to building a new form of international relations and the community with a shared future for mankind, and push forward the international military cooperation in the new era to a new height.
Question: It is reported that the US President Trump is to visit China next month and the US side said it would make a plan for US-China relations in the next 50 years. What is your expectation for the future China-US military-to-military relations?
Answer: The 19th CPC National Congress has just concluded successfully and made clear that, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, China will adhere to the path of peaceful development, unswervingly develop friendly cooperative relations with all countries around the world, including the US, on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence, promote the establishment of a community with a shared future for mankind, and promote the building of the new-type international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation.
We are glad to see that, for a period of time, with the attention and efforts of the two heads of states, China and the US have made positive progress in the areas of high-level visit, institutional consultation and dialogue, construction of military confidence-building mechanism, professional exchanges and joint training and exercise. Within the year, the two sides will also carry out multi-level dialogues and exchanges in various fields.
Looking into the future, we would like to work with the US side to respect each other, deepen mutual trust, focus on pragmatic exchanges and cooperation, properly manage and control differences, and constantly add positive energy and new impetus to the development of bilateral relations.
Question: According to media reports in Taiwan, a US Army Lieutenant Colonel recently claimed that China was seeking to set up a military base in the Pacific island country of Micronesia to cut off US power projection to the Asia-Pacific region. Could you please confirm this?
Answer: This report is pure fabrication and not worth refuting.
Question: It’s reported that the aircraft carrier Liaoning will recently conduct night sail training, which is commented by some as equally important as the landing practice of the ship-borne aircraft. They believe that the completion of the night sail training would mean the aircraft carrier Liaoning has acquired the real combat capability. Could you please confirm?
Answer: This is a very professional question. The combat capability refers to the ability of armed forces in carrying out combat tasks. The strength of the combat capability depends on the quantity and quality of the combatant, weaponry and equipment, the scientific organization configuration, and the command and management capability. All troops should improve their combat capability by strengthening military training, and the combat capability will eventually be tested through actual combat.
Question: In President Xi’s Report to the 19th CPC National Congress, he stressed that China should stay committed to the path of building strong armed forces with Chinese characteristics and strive to push forward the modernization of national defense and the military in an all-round way. Could you please brief us on the specific measures in this regard?
Answer: The Report to the 19th CPC National Congress made the strategic deployment of sticking to the path of building a strong military with Chinese characteristics and fully advancing the modernization of national defense and the military. Inspired by such responsibility, the military will resolutely implement President Xi’s thinking on strengthening the military, press ahead with the national defense and the military modernization in an all-round way and transform our people’s armed forces into world-class forces. In other words, we will modernize our military across the board in terms of organization and structure, service personnel and weaponry. We will make it our mission to see to it that, by 2035, the modernization of our national defense and our forces is basically achieved; and by the mid 21st century, our people’s armed forces will have been fully transformed into world-class forces.
Question: Recently, we have seen some speculation in Taiwan's media that the PLA may strengthen its combat flight patrol surrounding the Taiwan Island in the future to increase military pressure on Taiwan. Could you please comment on this?
Answer: Taiwan is a part of China. The PLA will carry out routine training according to its annual plan. We have reiterated repeatedly that we are willing to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and utmost efforts. At the same time, we are capable and confident and have methods to maintain the unity, sovereignty security and territorial integrity of the motherland.
Question: The Report to the 19th CPC National Congress clearly presented the goal to fully transform the people's armed forces into world-class military by mid-21st century, which has drawn wide attention. Some people even speculated that the Chinese military, with this goal, is aiming to surpass its US counterpart and China could be engaging in arm race. What’s your comment in this regard?
Second, the PLA Daily recently reported that the South Sea Fleet of the Chinese PLA Navy had established a new marine rescue squadron. Analysts believe that this could mean that China would send more submarines to the South China Sea. What is your comment?
Answer: The Report to the 19th CPC National Congress has clearly pointed out that China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, adhere to the national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and stick to the concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, strengthen exchanges and cooperation with militaries of other countries as always, so as to jointly tackle the global security challenges and work together to create the community with a shared future for mankind.
With regard to the newly-established marine rescue squadron, it is the universal practice for navies across the world to strengthen their rescue and salvage capability. During the process of promoting China’s overall modernization of the national defense and the military, it is perfectly reasonable and legitimate for the Chinese navy to constantly improve its combat and deterrence capability, and strengthen its capability building in combat, battlefield support and logistics support.
Here concludes this month’s regular press conference. Thank You!