Defense Ministry's Regular Press Conference on November 30

Ministry of National Defense
Zhang Tao


Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Director General of the Information Office of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND, answers reporters' questions at a monthly press conference on November 30, 2017. ( Xiaowei)

(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 Wu Qian: Friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of Nation Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I’d like to express my special welcome to the friends from Chinese Ministry of Commerce and to the friends from the spokesperson training class of the Communication University of China.

Today, I have two pieces of news to offer at the beginning.

The first is about the first meeting of China-U.S. Joint Staff Dialogue Mechanism (JSDM) .

Based on the important consensus reached by the heads of state of China and the U.S., the first meeting of China-U.S. Joint Staff Dialogue Mechanism was held from November 29thto 30th, 2017, in Washington DC, the United States. Major General Shao Yuanming, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the CMC and Lieutenant General Richard D. Clarke, Director for Strategic Plans and Policy of theJoint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S., co-hosted the meeting. The two parties discussed the issues on the exchanges and cooperation between the two joint staff departments, and the improvement of crisis management and communication, etc.

We believe that, with this meeting, the two parties will further enhance their mutual understanding, deepen mutual trust, broaden common ground, and better manage and control risks.

The second piece is on China-Vietnam Joint Patrol in the Beibu Gulf.

In order to implement the important bilateral consensus reached during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam, and in line with relevant agreement between the militaries of China and Vietnam, the naval forces from the two countries will conduct their 23rdjoint patrol including communications check exercise and joint search & rescue exercise in the Beibu Gulf in early December.

China attaches great importance to military relations with Vietnam. China is willing to join hands with the Vietnamese side in an effort to maintain order and stability in the Beibu Gulf and their joint fishery area, and to promote a sound and stable development of the mil-to-mil relations.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Question: Shortly after the 19thCPC National Congress, President Xi Jinping inspected the CMC Joint Operations Command Center, showing a tendency to tighten combat readiness. Are there any new measures on military training to be taken in the year 2018?

Answer: China’s armed forces will devote themselves to military training and prioritize their tasks in the following eight aspects in the year of 2018 to improve the troops’ capabilities of combat readiness for war fighting:

First, to deepen the research in operations-related issues and guide training with advanced military theories.

Second, to keep an eye on the adjustment of international strategic landscape and the involvement of the security situation in China’s periphery. We will strengthen tailored training on subjects closely related to the missions of the armed forces so as to ensure rapid and decisive response to various security threats and emergencies at any time.

Third, to conduct training in strict accordance with the law and the Outline of Military Training and Evaluation (OMTE). We will publish the new Military Training Doctrine and OMTE, improve laws and regulations governing training and standardize training contents and operating order.

Fourth, to adapt to the restructuring of national defense and the military. We will construct a military training system with Chinese characteristics for a new era under the new strategic arrangements.

Fifth, to lay a solid foundation for the combat effectiveness of troops. We will strengthen command post training, basic training of techniques and tactics, and highlight training with new equipment so as to further improve combat effectiveness.

Sixth, to strictly temper troops according to the requirements of a real combat. We will work to conduct training in real combat conditions and improve the way of training.

Seventh, to promote exchanges and cooperation with other countries on training. We will deepen and expand joint trainings with relevant countries, and take joint training as an important platform for military exchanges and cooperation, and for enhancing friendship and mutual learning.

Eighth, to make efforts to improve military training conditions. We will carry forward key projects and speed up transforming advanced technologies into training tools. We will make an overall plan to ensure shared utility of military training assets, and to make the training more informationized, refined and standardized.

Question: About 200 soldiers and high-ranking commanding officers from the Chinese PLA and the U.S. armed forces took part in a joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise recently in the State of Oregon. The leading officer of the Chinese observers delegation said that the two heads of state expressed, in this month, their expectations for the stabilization of military-to-military relations between the two countries, and the two sides will enhance cooperation in the field of HADR. Do you have any comment on that?

Answer: China and the United States held a joint HADR exercise and their 13thseminar from 13thto 21stof November in the U.S. This event is a practical measure to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, and it is one of the institutionalized exchange programs between the two armed forces. Compared with previous years, this year’s exercise and exchange have three characteristics:

First, the exercise has a more realistic scenario. Real flood data from a third country was used and the scenarios were introduced randomly, which added to the sense of liveliness of the exercise.

Second, the exercise has more standardized operational procedures. In line with the Standard Operation Procedures for Relief and Rescue by Multinational Troops, disaster information was received in real time; the consultation, evaluation and decision was made on an ad hoc basis; the assignment of rescue tasks and the organization of coordinated responses were made quickly.

Third, the exercise is more open. Observers from many countries and international organizations were invited to witness the exercise, which raised its transparency.

Both sides are satisfied with the outcome of the joint exercise. The Chinese side is willing to enhance practical exchanges and cooperation with the American side in all areas and jointly maintain world peace, stability and prosperity.

Question: Recent media reports said that pilots from the Chinese Air Force have gone to Russia to test-fly the Su-35 fighter jets and possibly they will fly the Su-35 fighter jets directly back to China before the end of this year. Could you please confirm this? It is reported that China and Russia will hold the second " Aerospace Security - 2017" joint computerized headquarters table exercise on missile defense. Could you please release more information? For instance, who will be the host of this exercise? Why will the two sides hold such exercise? As it is the second time for China and Russia to hold such exercise, will it become a routine practice between the two sides in the future? 

Answer: The Su-35 fighter jet program is one important cooperation program between China and Russia. So far, the two sides are actively pushing forward cooperation smoothly in various fields as schedule including the flight training. 

About your second question, the Chinese and Russian militaries will hold the second "Aerospace Security - 2017" joint computerized headquarters table exercise on missile defense in Beijing from Dec 11thto 16th, 2017. By carrying out joint training on the planning, commanding and firepower coordination of air-defense and anti-missile operations, the exercise aims to help the two sides to deal with the surprise and provocative attacks by ballistic and cruise missiles against the territories of the two countries.

The exercise is not against any third party and it will be hosted by the Chinese PLA Air Force. So far, the two sides have been doing their preparation work for the exercise. In the future, China and Russia will strengthen cooperation in air-defense and anti-missile area as needed.

Question: Recently, Indian and Chinese military delegations as well as the diplomats had consultations on the boundary issues. They have discussed in the 10th round meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on China-India Border Affairs here. A number of things that have been discussed were the security issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and also the confidence building measures between the two militaries. There has been a talk for a while about establishing a hot line between the two militaries’ headquarters. I would appreciate it if you can just update a little about how far this particular initiative has progressed, and what are the other confidence building measures that have been discussed between the two militaries in the recent meeting?

And also my second question is about reports in India saying that China continues to maintain high military presence close to the Doklam area. The normal practice I understand is to withdraw the soldiers from the area during the winter by both sides, but this has not happened this time. Could you please elaborate or brief us why this particular presence is being continued in that area? Thank you.

Answer: I would like to clarify that after the reform of national defense and the military, China’s armed forces do not apply the general headquarters system any more.

During the 10thmeeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on China-India Border Affairs, the two sides exchanged views on such issues as maintaining peace and tranquility of the border areas, including detailed issues like the border exchanges between the two militaries. For the specific issues that you have mentioned, the two sides will keep contact with each other.

About your second question, the Dong Lang area is Chinese territory, and, therefore, we will decide the deployment of our troops on our own.

Question: We notice that there are reports and comments in different forms from foreign media about China’s armed forces recently. Some hypes up the so-called “China Threat” and argues that China is seeking expansion by increasing its military presence abroad. And others make groundless accusations against China for cyber espionage. An Australia-based media outlet even claims that the PLA is surpassing the U.S. thanks to Australian scientists. What is your comment?

Answer: Your question reminds me of two lines of a Tang poem: “the apes are still keep screaming from the two sides but ten thousand miles away have been my boat”, which means that no matter what kind of noises and hardship we are faced with, it is an irreversible trend for China to build up its military strength by taking the path of self-reliance.

It is necessary to point out that China’s contribution to the international community is widely recognized. As China’s military strength grows, so does the forces for peace, which is conducive to world peace, stability and prosperity.

Question: Yesterday, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) tested ballistic missiles again. Many experts think that the DPRK has made a great development in related technology. James Mattis, the U.S. Secretary of Defense says the missiles of DPRK are capable of reaching anywhere in the world which poses a great threat. Does the Chinese military agree with him? What measures will the Chinese military take in response to DPRK’s development of nuclear technology? One U.S. senator said that President Trump would choose to destroy the regime of DPRK instead of having the U.S. destroyed by the missiles, when he needs to make the choice. Do you have any comment on this? Answer: On the Korean Peninsula issue, our policy of the three insists has never changed, that is, we insist on the denuclearization of the peninsula, we insist on maintaining peace and stability of the peninsula and we insist on solving problems through dialogue and consultations. And we are seriously concerned about and firmly opposed to the related launching activities of the DPRK.

On your second question, we think military actions cannot be an option to solve the Korean Peninsula issue.

Question: Australia published its foreign policy white paper on 23rd of November, in which Australia called on the U.S. to increase its presence in Asia and enhance partnership with its allies in this region, and at the same time, sent a warning on the increasingly rising influence of China. On the South China Sea issue, the white paper says that Australia opposes the militarization of the disputed islands and holds that the arbitral award of the South China Sea arbitration case raised by the Philippines has a binding force to both China and the Philippines. Do you have any comment on that?

Answer: We note that the Australian foreign policy white paper has made irresponsible comments on the South China Sea issue, and we firmly oppose that.

Australia is not a party directly concerned to the South China Sea issue, so it is not in a position to make carping comments on the South China Sea issue.

Recently, the situation in the South China Sea has cooled down and shown the momentum of positive development, which fully demonstrates that the countries in this region have the wisdom, capability and means to peacefully solve the disputes through direct consultations and dialogues. It has been proven by facts that interference from countries outside the region can only complicate the South China Sea issue and will be of no help to regional peace and stability. We urge the Australian side to strictly follow its promise of taking no stance on disputes on territory and sovereignty, and we hope the Australian side does not stick to the old mentality in mind while having a new Asia Pacific in sight.

Question: Taiwan military claimed on Nov. 23 that such PLA military aircraft as H-6K bombers conducted a far-sea training exercise crossing over the “island chain” and some aircraft returned to their home base from their original flight course after passing over the Bashi Channel and flying to the Western Pacific. Taiwan military’s vessels and aircraft followed and monitored the whole process according to regulations. According to some media, it might become a routine practice for the Chinese PLA Air Force to conduct training crossing the island chain. What is your comment?

Answer:  I have answered this question many times. Taiwan is a part of China. The training as you mentioned is within the annual training plan. Similar training will be conducted in future. 

I also noted that you had mentioned the word “island chain” several times in your question. I want to emphasize here that no chain can chain China.

Question: The “child abuse” issue of the RYB Kindergarten is a hot topic on the Internet recently. According to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, persons who made rumors related to the Chinese military have been taken into custody. We have noticed that such military-related rumors occur from time to time despite repeated prohibitions. Do you have any comment on that?

Answer: I have three points to make concerning this question. The first is that children are the flowers and future of the nation and we will never allow any person to harm any child in any manner.

The second point is that the military is the pillar of the nation and protector of the people. We will never allow any person to slander Chinese military service members in any manner.

The third point is that the Internet is an arena where we see silent struggles and it is also a battlefield without the smoke of gunpowder. And for all of us, we should be able to tell whether the news on the Internet is true or not and raise our vigilance.

Question: It was reported that the second Chinese domestically-built aircraft carrier was to take theelectromagnetic catapult system. Could you please confirm that? My second question is about the regulation published this month on civil service staff. We noticed that the active service military personnel can be transferred into civil service staff in the process of military reform. Is there any stipulation or standard for the transfer?

Answer: About your first question, I have no information to release. About your second question, those who might be turned into civil service staff from active service military personnel have to meet two conditions. First, they have to meet the conditions of retirement, and second, they are on the list of retirement.

Question: First, the Chinese military aircraft conducted frequent distant waters training recently and circled Taiwan. The Taiwan military claimed that some military aircraft of China’s mainland entered the air defense identification zone of Taiwan and flew away shortly afterwards. Could you please confirm?

Second, officials from the U.S.Department of Defensesaid that two days before U.S. President Trump’s visit to China, China tested the DF-41 missiles. Could you please confirm? If it is true, what is the purpose and when DF-41 Missiles will be commissioned in the troops?

Third, it was reported that the Chinese side urged the Republic of Korea (ROK) to take technical measures to avoid harming the security interests of China. Could you please confirm? Have the two militaries conducted negotiations on relevant issues.

Answer: As to your first question, I have made our stance very clear and I would not restate it.

About your second question, it is a normal practice for China to develop missiles as scheduled and it is not against any specific country, region or target. We always follow our national defense policy which is defensive in nature and a military strategy of active defense. We develop weapons and armament only to meet our need of national security.

About the THAAD question, actually China’s stance of firmly opposing the deployment of the THAAD system has never changed. Recently, the diplomatic branches of the two countries have reached consensus on discussing issues related to the THAAD system. I should say it is up to the doer to undo the knot. And the fundamental solution to the issue is to stop deploying the THAAD system and remove the equipment. And the Chinese military will take its due measures to firmly safeguard national security.

Question: The special forces of theRussian National Guardand the Chinese People’s Armed PoliceForce will hold a special tactics training exercise from December 2 to 13. Can you give us some details on this event?

Answer: We’ve learnt that the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force and the Russian National Guard will hold a joint anti-terrorism training exercise coded “Cooperation-2017” in Ningxia, China next month. The joint drill is designed to enhance tactical training of the special troops of both sides in counter-terrorism operations. For the details of the training exercise, we will release information in due time.                      

Question: It is reported that the Chinese military is to send special forces unit to Syria to assist the Syrian military in combating extremist forces. Could you please confirm that?

Answer: What you mentioned is not true.

Question: As you just mentioned, the military headquarter was not there after the reforms and previously China and     India had discussed the establishment of the “Hot Line” between the two militaries. Has there been any progress?

Answer: Just as what I mentioned, the two sides will keep contact with each other on this issue.

Question: China is building a peacekeeping standby force and the Chinese Army claimed that it had already established 19 standby units to conduct peacekeeping operations. And what are the progress for other services?

My second question is about the ongoing “Harsh Cold-2017” training exercise of the Chinese military. There is comment that, given the current situation in the border areas between China and the DPRK, this exercise is a response to the DPRK’s moves. Could you please confirm?

My third question is about Zhang Yang. As we know, Zhang Yang killed himself at home. How would his crime be dealt with?

Answer: The Navy, Air Force and Joint Logistics Support Troops are conducting their work on establishing respective standby peacekeeping units under the unified direction of the CMC.

About your second question, the exercise you mentioned is part of our annual training program which is also a routine one. It is not against any specific country or target.

About your third question, there has been wide media coverage on the issue. I want to stress here that the Chinese military always follow the principle of ruling the military according to law and in a strict manner. We follow the principle of leaving no stone unturned and zero tolerance. We will also put our key efforts to pressure, to prevent and to deter. And we will resolutely clear out any virus that may corrupt the healthy body of the military. And we will provide strong political guarantee to realize the Party’s goal to strengthen the military in a new era and to build a world-class military in an all-round way.

If you have no more question, I want to say something. In fact, I prepared the answer for the question about the Chinese Air Force’s Ba’yi Aerobatics Team, but you didn’t asked that question.

It is known that the Chinese Ba’yi Aerobatics Team performed for the first time in the Dubai Airshow and also in Quetta of Pakistan this month. We made a video clip, which is named Soaring Aspirations, with which I would like to conclude this month’s regular press conference.

download the video here

Here concludes today’s press conference, thank you!




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