Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang: Dear friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to the monthly press conference of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND).
First, I’ll release three pieces of information.
The first is about this year’s PLA conscription work.
Since the beginning of this year, the Party committees, governments and military service institutions at all levels have been vigorously adopting the thinking of President Xi Jinping’s reply letter to new recruits from the Nankai University (NKU) and firmly implementing the conscription order of the State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC). They have done solid work in doing registration and organized physical examinations and political tests. We’ve seen smooth progress and are positive about finishing the tasks.
There are four features in this years’ conscription: Firstly, there’s a high enthusiasm among young people of the right age to join the military. Secondly, we’ve registered growth in both the number of the college volunteers for military service and the number of college conscripts. As a result, the personnel structure and the quality of new recruits have improved. Thirdly, local governments in different areas have provided favorable policies to encourage people to join the military, and military service has became a more honorable profession. Fourthly, in order to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the conscription, we have put more emphasis on the rule-of-law and disciplines and conducted clean and regulated conscription.
The second is about the 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum.
The China Association for Military Science (CAMS) and China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) will co-host the 8th Beijing Xiangshan Forum from October 24th to 26th, 2018. By the end of September 20th, representatives from over 30 countries and international organizations have registered, which includes at least 15 defense ministers.
We have had 7 successful Xiangshan Forum before, in which we also demonstrated the characters of the Chinese military. The forum upholds openness, inclusiveness, mutual-learning and cooperation. It has already become a platform for equal dialogues, consensus, exchanges and cooperation. It is also a platform where thoughts meet actions and where we can discuss how to enhance our security. It helps us better understand each other and deepen friendship. We certainly cannot achieve the progress without the coverage and support from the Media, and we welcome all of you to cover this year’s Beijing Xiangshan Forum.
The third one is that the Chinese Armored Police Force (APF) will host the 2nd “Blade” International Sniper Competition.
From October 18th to 22nd, 2018, the China’s Armed Police Force (APF) will host the 2nd “Blade” International Sniper Competition in the Gaoling Training Base in Beijing. The theme of the competition is “real combat situation, elite forces and challenging tasks”, and there will be over 12 contests including short-distance precision shooting, hostage rescuing shooting, counter shooting, comprehensive combat etc.. The host has invited police and military snipers from over 20 countries such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states, countries alongside the Belt and Road Initiative and those with rich experiences. Special forces from the PLA Army, Navy and Air Force will also participate.
This competition is now a major brand of the Armed Police Force for real combat training and international cooperation. It can help strengthen our cooperation with foreign military police forces, further enhance the counter-terrorism capabilities, and help Chinese snipers gain expertise and real combat experience.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: On September 21st, the US unilaterally announced sanctions on the Equipment Development Department and its Director. The Chinese military also promptly recalled its visiting Navy Commander in the US. What’s your comment on the current China-US military relationship?
Answer:The Chinese military has expressed our firm opposition to the unreasonable sanctions by the US side. The US side should be solely blamed for and bear full responsibilities for the current problems between the two countries . We demand the US side to show sincerity and take actions with a reasonable and mature attitude to improve bilateral mi-mil relationship. We urge the US side to work together with China to build our military relationship into a stabilizing factor for bilateral ties.
Question: By the end of this month, the Chinese troops who participated in the Vostok-2018 strategic exercise have all returned to China. What has China learned from the exercise and will such a strategic exercise between China and Russia become a regular arrangement in the future?
Answer: China sent more troops to the exercise than any other exercises we had before in a foreign country. This exercise has fully tapped into the potential of China’s defense and military reform. Chinese and Russian soldiers trained together and learned from each other in this exercise. By working and fighting together, they have deepened friendship and trust and cooperation. This exercise also helped safeguard peace and improve the joint capabilities of the two militaries in protecting regional peace and security and dealing with multiple security threats. Generally speaking, we have achieved the desired goals and we are satisfied with the performance of our troops.
In recent years, China and Russia have conducted multiple joint military exercises either bilaterally or under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization（SCO）, these exercises have already been a regular arrangement. As for whether China will participate in Russia’s strategic exercise on the regular basis, we will consult with the Russian side according to our security needs.
Question: I have two questions. The first is about Chinese defense minister’s visit to the US this year. Is it going smoothly? The second question is that on September 26th, the US Department of Defense said that one of its strategic bomber had again flown over the South China Sea and the US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that it was what the US had been doing for decades and it would not escalate tensions between the two militaries. What’s your comment?
Answer: On the first question, we have been positive on maintaining military exchanges at various levels with the US. However, the US side should bear full responsibility for the recent impact on the China-US mil-mil relationship. We demand the US side to take a rational and mature attitude and create favourable conditions for bilateral military exchanges and cooperation.
On the second question, China’s position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. I won’t repeat it here. As for the provocative actions taken by the US military aircraft in the South China Sea, we are firmly against them and will continue to take necessary measures in response to these actions
Question: Recently, the US announced a $330 million arms sale to Taiwan. Though it’s mainly composed of components and the scale and total number are not big，analysts held that this would become a regular arrangement in the future. What’s your comment?
Answer: We have expressed our firm opposition to the US arms sale to Taiwan. It is not about the number but about the nature of the action. Taiwan is a part of China. The Taiwan question matters on China’s core interests. The US action has violated the one-China principle and the three Joint Communiques between China and the US. It is an interference into China's domestic affairs. It undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests and severely damaged China-US military relations and bilateral ties as well as peace and security across the Taiwan Straits. I want to stress that any attempts to contain China with Taiwan or to resist reunification through force are surely to fail.
Question：We all know that the “Vostok-2018” is the largest military exercise conducted by Russia after the Cold War, and you’ve just mentioned that China also send more soldiers to this exercise than any other joint exercises in a foreign country. Some reports say that this exercise is aimed to show strength to the West and some are concerned that China and Russia are forging an anti-America alliance. What’s your comment?
Answer：The comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia features non-alliance, non-confrontation and is not targeted against any third country. China’s participation in the “Vostok-2018” is to consolidate this partnership, strengthen practical cooperation and improve capabilities in dealing with various security threats. It can help safeguard regional peace and security. It is not targeted against any third country and is not relevant to regional situations.
Question: There are reports saying that the US sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department will have negative impact on China’s military technological cooperation with Russia. Will there be such an impact and what are China’s countermeasures?
Answer: China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination. The military cooperation between the two sides are normal ones between two sovereign states aiming to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the two countries and maintain regional peace and stability. These co-operations are totally in line with international laws. The US has no right to interfere. The technological co-operations between China and Russia are pressing ahead according to plan and the two countries will further strengthen co-operations on the principle of mutual benefits and coordination.
Question: Can you tell us why the Chinese side has denied the application of the USS Wasps to visit Hong Kong?
Answer: On this question, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated the position of the Chinese side and I have no new information to release.
Question: It is reported that the PLA Rocket Force’s Song and Dance Troupe has recently exited from the active duty. And there are also sources saying that the Song and Dance Troupes under the PLA Navy, Air Force and Army will also be completely withdrawn. Can you confirm it? If it’s true, does it mean that the Song and Dance Troupes in the military will completely withdraw from the stage of history?
Answer: According to the agenda of the defense and military reform, the Central Military Commission (CMC) has decided to optimize the institutional structure of the military’s cultural force by emphasizing its nature as a cultural combat force and a cultural cavalier. The CMC has decided to re-establish the PLA’s Song and Dance Troupe, keep the Song and Dance Troupes in the Xinjiang Military Region and Xizang Military Region, and cut those under the services and the Armed Police Force. The priority is to provide guidance for cultural service in troops and build a cultural force with its main body in grassroots units.
As an important part of China’s military culture, the cultural force and its work shows the political strength of the Chinese military. In the new era, the cultural force will inherit the fine traditions of the PLA with an orientation to serve the goal of building a strong military and serve the grassroots units. It will function as a combat force as well as a cultural cavalier, and provide mental support for fighting and winning wars.
Question：According to reports, the US recently released a new Cyber Security Strategy report, listing China as a cyber threat to the United States. According to this report, the United States will take offensive actions to curb and deal with cyber attacks. What’s your response?
Answer: We have noticed this report. We think it is full of fabricated ideas and Cold War mentality. We are firmly opposed to this report. China has always been advocating peace in the cyber space and opposing any cyber warfare or cyber arms race. The US is, on the one hand，stepping up its efforts on developing an offensive cyber force while on the other hand，groundlessly criticizing other countries. This is typically double standards.
Question：It is reported that the PLA army is conducting mass training and skills competition across the service. Could you please give us more details?
Answer：Conducting mass training and skills competition is a glorious tradition of the People’s Liberation Army. President Xi Jinping has stressed many times that in the new era, the military needs more training and skills competitions to spur the enthusiasm and creativity of our service members. Since the beginning of this year, the military has been implementing President Xi Jinping’s order and the Training Doctrine announced at the CMC Training Commencement Meeting earlier this year.
The mass training and skills competition has become one of the priorities of our military training programs. We have conducted activities such as on-the-job training, quality ranking, record-breaking, and made a lot of efforts to train top soldiers. There is an ongoing popular trend in the military to conduct mass training and skills competition.
Question: Could you please tell us the military cooperation between China and Africa for the year 2019? Besides, China-ASEAN maritime joint military exercise will be held in Zhanjiang in October. Could you please brief us on its preparations?
Answer: China and African countries are a community with a shared future that share weal and woe. By following the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and a right approach to responsibilities and interests, the Chinese side will continue to have military cooperation with all African countries and support their defense and security build-up.
China and the 10 ASEAN countries are preparing for the maritime exercise and we are still discussing on the number of forces to be sent and the subjects of the exercise. We will release relevant information in due course. China and the ASEAN countries will conduct the maritime exercise in the open sea of Zhanjiang. This fully demonstrates that countries in the region have the capability, confidence and wisdom to handle regional disputes. This kind of exercise can help enhance trust and cooperation and safeguard regional peace and stability.
Question: The National Education Conference was held in Beijing recently. The military also commended a number of outstanding teachers. What specific measures will the military take to implement the thinking of the National Education Conference?
Answer: Recently, the CMC Political Work Department and Training and Administration Department jointly issued a circular to commend 50 outstanding teachers and teaching staff and some civilian teachers were also commended for the first time.
This is an important move to promote reform in military academies and accelerate their transformation. It is of great significance to improve modern military education and reconstruct a new-type military talents training system. To build a world-class military, we need a contingent of teachers in the military who have "dreams, virtues, knowledge and love for students". Meanwhile the military also values its civilian employees personnel in the education sector. This year, two civilian teachers were commended for the first time. This is a high recognition of their contribution to teaching and the reform.
Guided by Xi Jinping’s thought on building a strong military, we will firmly adopt the thinking of the National Education Conference in the military education area. We will make efforts to spur the enthusiasm of teachers in military academies after the reform, and inspire a sense of honour and responsibility for teaching and educating people so as to provide talented personnel and intellectual support for building a strong and world-class military.
Question: On September 17th, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force said that its Kuroshio submarine and three vessels including the Kaga helicopter carrier conducted training in the South China Sea on September 13th. It is the first time for a Japanese submarine to conduct training in the South China Sea. What’s your comment?
Answer: We have closely watched the related moves of the Japanese side. The Chinese side opposes interference in the South China Sea issue by countries outside the region. Due to historical and realistic reasons, Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community are highly concerned by Japan’s military moves. We hope Japan can do more things to contribute to the peace and stability in the South China Sea and be cautious in words and deeds on the South China Sea issue.
Question：It is reported that China carried out a ten-day counter-terrorism exercise with Nepal named the “Sagarmatha Friendship-2018” on September 17. Could you please tell us more about the exercise? It is also reported that Nepal withdrew from a joint exercise with India, and there are comments that China is behind this decision. So what’s your comment?
Answer：According to the agreement between China and Nepal, we carried out the joint counter-terrorism exercise “Sagarmatha Friendship-2018” in Chengdu from September 17th to 28th. We’ve already read media reports on this exercise. This exercise is conducted within the two militaries’ planned exchanges. The main purpose for the exercise is to jointly fight against the international terrorism and the main subject is urban counter-terrorism operations. The two sides did exercises in building joint command posts, carrying out blocking and searching and executing joint counter-terrorism operations. As for the considerations of the Nepalese side, you can refer to the statements from them.
Question: Recently，Britain conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Is the Chinese side concerned that American allies will escalate this kind of activities in the South China Sea? If they continue these operations, how will China respond and what are the counter measures China will take against the US allies that might be planning similar operations?
Answer: For some time, with joint efforts made by China and the ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is steadily improving. It shows that countries in the region have the wisdom, capability and confidence to handle the South China Sea issue. However, some countries outside the region such as Britain and France turned a blind eye to the stability in the South China Sea and insisted on hyping up the false idea of freedom of navigation and tried to make troubles out of nothing. They came to the region to take advantage of this issue. The Chinese military is firmly opposed to these actions.
China respects and protects the freedom of navigation and over-flight entitled to all countries by international law. However, we are firmly opposed to other countries taking provocative actions in the name of freedom of navigation and we are against those countries showing their existence in the South China Sea. The Chinese military will fulfill its defense responsibility and strengthen the patrol in the region to safeguard our sovereignty and security and maintain regional peace and stability.
Question: Does China have any plans to allow other countries' access to the facilities in China's Nansha islands for civilian purposes, such as search and rescue operations, disaster relief and fishermen logistics?
Answer: If you pay attention to the construction work by China on the Nansha islands of the South China Sea, you would not lose sight of the fact that the facilities built there are mainly for civilian purposes and are now functioning. I believe with more civilian functions of the facilities such as navigation service and maritime rescue functions are applied to practice, China will be able to provide more civilian services to passing ships of neighboring countries if they are in need of help.
Question: Does the Chinese military have any plan to put sanctions on the US enterprises that sell arms to Taiwan?
Answer: We have stated our position on the unreasonable sanctions on China by the US side. As for whether we will have any sanctions on related US enterprises, I advice you to refer to competent authorities.
Few days later, the 5th Chinese Memorial Day will fall on September 30th. Martyrs represent a nation’s backbone and spirit. They are the carrier and incarnation of our national spirit. We’ve made a video clip to commemorate the Chinese Memorial Day. (http://vv.chinamil.com.cn/asset/category3/2018/09/27/asset_336537.mp4) Let us remember the history, cherish the memory of our revolutionary martyrs, stay true with the original self, and keep moving on.
Here concludes today’s press conference! Thank you!