(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: Friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I have three pieces of announcements at the beginning.
The first is about the upcoming 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum. The Forum will be held at the Beijing International Conference Center from October 20th to 22nd, 2019. Themed as “Maintaining International Order and Promoting Peace in the Asia-Pacific Region”, the forum consists of four plenary sessions, namely “Major Country Relations and International Order, Security Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific, Interests of Small and Medium-Sized Countries and Common Security, International Arms Control Regime and Global Security”. In addition, there will be eight concurrent sessions, including “Innovation in Security Concepts, Strategic Trust and Confidence-building Measures, Asia-Pacific Security Architecture, Dynamics in Maritime Security, International Cooperation on Counter-terrorism, Security New Circumstances in the Middle East, Scientific and Technological Innovation and International Security, and Artificial Intelligence and Future Warfare”. There is also one special plenary session themed as “The 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC and Peace and Development of the World”.
There are four features behind the setting of these subjects: First, to echo the trend of the times with a focus on peace, development, and win-win cooperation. Second, to discuss the significant topic: the70years of the PRC and the 100years of the world. Third, to address common security challenges and threats of all countries in a world undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Fourth, to jointly discuss, build and share the benefits of building a community of shared future for mankind.
Since its inception in 2006, the forum has been growing in terms of its size, level, influence and fame. It is now the largest and highest-level track 1.5 security dialogue hosted by China. The past eight forums helped countries enhance trust, coordinate policies, promote security dialogue and strengthen cooperation.
During the forum, the Chinese side will also host a young officers seminar, multiple panel discussions and symposiums and arrange a visit to the exhibition “Achievements in International Military Cooperation over the 70 Years Since the Founding of the PRC”, in order to help the officials, experts and delegates to understand the efforts made by the Chinese Military in its international military cooperation, and in providing international public security goods.
Up till now, nearly 60 countries and 6 international organizations have confirmed to attend, which include 25 defense ministers, 6 chiefs of defense force, 14 deputy ministers and hundreds of experts and scholars. China welcomes domestic and overseas journalists to cover this event. Reporters can go to the official website of the forum and register by scanning a QR code. Based on the capacities of different arenas, the Chinese side will then send confirmation after we receive your registration information. Here is an introduction video clip of the forum.
The second announcement is about the preparation work for the 7th Military World Games. The 7th Military World Games will kick off on October 18th, 2019, in Wuhan City of China’s Hubei province. By now, preparation work of the Games has been completed.
First, we have concluded the final acceptance of construction of all venues. 35 newly built or adapted venues and facilities have passed the inspections and trials. Meanwhile, the post-game use of the venues has already been identified.
Second, on the organization of the Games, around 10,000 service members from 110 countries have registered. Organizers have made and prepared medals, trophy cups and mascots.
Third, the Games village is ready to open. Facilities and equipment have all been installed and adjusted. Management and support teams are in position. Measures have been taken to ensure the safety of all food and prevent food-borne stimulant substances.
Fourth, we have prepared arrangements of international military cooperation. During the Games, bilateral and multilateral military exchanges will be arranged to deepen friendship and build trust among different militaries so the Games is both an arena for athletes to compete and an opportunity for militaries to better understand each other.
Fifth, we have elevated the security protection to the highest level and taken strict security measures include security check and management of high grounds. A Smart Security Platform has been built to video monitoring system, transportation information and cyber security test.
Sixth, the city’s support system is fully upgraded. We have established organs for security and stability, municipal facilities, and environmental protection. We are strictly implementing plans to protect air quality and have built an emergency service and transportation mechanism which has been included into the city’s emergency service system.
The third announcement is about the Chinese military’s participation in Russia’s Central-2019 (Tsentr-2019) exercise. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, as well as the 70th anniversary of China-Russia diplomatic relations. Under the strategic guidance of Chinese and Russian heads of state, the China-Russia relationship is at its best in history. Against this backdrop, and as agreed by the two sides, the Chinese military participated in the Center-2019exercise from September 16th to 21st, 2019, in Russia. This is the second time for the Chinese military to participate in large-scale Russian exercises after last year’s Vostok-2018 strategic exercise.
The PLA participated in four stages of the exercise, namely maneuver and defense, fire strike, comprehensive counter-attack and stabilizing and maintaining stability. The exercise fully tested and improved the capabilities of the Chinese troops in trans-border projection, overseas command, joint operation and logistics and released the effects of the Chinese defense and military reform. The exercise has further consolidated and developed the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for the new era, and further improved the strategic coordination between the two militaries.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: I have two questions. First, according to reports, the US Congress Research Service recently released a report, saying that “China’s military modernization effort has become the top focus of U.S. defense planning and budgeting and China’s navy is viewed as posing a major challenge to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain wartime control of blue-water ocean areas in the Western Pacific-the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War”. What is your comment on this? Second, President Xi Jinping recently mentioned in his speech at the opening session of the training class for young and middle-aged officials in the Central Party School that, in the current and future period, China will enter a period when various risks and challenges are building up and even intensively emerging, and there will be many major challenges ahead of us in different areas. President Xi pointed out that there are risks and challenges in national defense and military build-up and they are becoming more complex. How shall we understand this? What is the message behind?
Answer: I will answer the second question first. Though the world is at peace, those who forget war will be in danger. Peace, development and win-win cooperation are the trends of the times, but the world is far from being peaceful. China is faced with multiple security threats and challenges. The PLA must strengthen military training so as to enhance combat readiness and strengthen the awareness of potential dangers, crisis and war. Efforts must be made to improve the readiness, consciousness and capabilities to fight and keep on advancing military preparedness. It should always be ready to fulfill the missions and tasks entrusted by the Party and the people and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests so as to provide solid strategic support for the realization of the Chinese dream and the dream to build a strong military.
As for the first question, we have taken note of relevant media reports. The US Congress Research Service report ignores the facts, distorts the modernization of the Chinese military, hypes-up the so-called “China military threat “, and deliberately exaggerates confrontation. It is not the first time for the US side to do such a thing. It fully shows that some people in the US still hold outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game and the arrogance and prejudice of the US side. It is very absurd and dangerous. We are firmly opposed to it.
On July 24, the Chinese Government issued a white paper entitled China's National Defense in the New Era. It explained from the policy level that China follows the path of peaceful development and a defensive defense policy. We urge the US side to abandon the Cold War mentality, follow the trend of peace and development, take an objective and rational view of China's military development and work together with the Chinese side towards the same goal and make practical efforts to promote the healthy and stable development of bilateral and mil-to-mil relations and jointly safeguard world and regional peace, stability and prosperity.
Question: China’s first amphibious assault ship was launched this week, which has drawn wide attention. Is there any consideration behind the launching of the ship just before the National Day? Can you tell us more details about the ship?
Answer: On September 25, China launched its first amphibious assault ship in Shanghai. The ship is the first of its kind independently developed by China and is capable of conducting amphibious operations. In the next stage, the ship will go through a series of debugging, mooring tests and sea trials as scheduled. The R&D, production and commission of weapons and equipment has its own cycles and should follow its own rules. Launching the ship days before the National Day adds festive atmosphere to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Question: In 2003, China closed a space tracking and control station in the Pacific island state of Kiribati. Now, Kiribati decides to reestablish diplomatic ties with China. Will China reopen this space tracking and control station in the country?
Answer: Currently, China and Kiribati have not resumed diplomatic relations. As for your question, I need to get more information.
Question: I have two questions. First, from September 2 to 6, the US and 10 ASEAN countries held the first joint maritime exercise. Previously, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized the importance of the joint exercise, claiming that it was based on the US Indo-Pacific Strategy and was intended to improve military ties with ASEAN. How would you comment on this?
Second, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently said that Japan is going to establish a space force under the Air Self-Defense Force. The Japanese side said it was designed to cope with the growing activities of the US, Russia and China in space. What’s your comment on this?
Answer: On your first question, we have noticed related reports. We believe that no strategy should champion confrontation, nor target a third party. Military cooperation between countries, both bilateral and multilateral, should help promote regional peace and stability. That is what a responsible major country should do.
On your second question, we are closely following the related moves. Due to historic and realistic reasons, Japan’s moves in military and security areas deserve high vigilance of its Asian neighbors and the international community. The outer space is a common asset of all mankind. It should be a new domain that can deliver benefits to all people, instead of a new battlefield of military powers. We hope that Japan could do more things to contribute to peace and stability.
Question: The Chinese military participated in Russia’s “Center-2019” exercise from September 16 to 21. Could you please brief us on the outcomes of the exercise? Will this be a regular arrangement in the future?
Answer: The Chinese military’s participation in the “Center-2019” exercise has generated a lot of positive outcomes in political, military and diplomatic fields. And for your second question, actually China and Russia have conducted a series of joint military exercises and competitions under bilateral mechanism and the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), many of which have been institutionalized. Whether China will regularly take part in a specific exercise hosted by Russia will be decided by the two sides through consultations.
Question: Could you please tell us the budget of the upcoming National Day military parade next week?
Answer: This year’s parade strictly follows the general principles of "scientific planning, standard supply, thrift arrangement and strict budget". Based on existing standards, facilities and resources, various support for the parade were conducted with high precision and efficiency. We endeavour to ensure that every penny and every piece of material are spent wisely so as to get the most out of limited funds. The parade is larger in scale than ever before, with more personnel and equipment, but the amount of funds for the parade has dropped significantly, meeting the requirement of frugality.
Question: Every year, the PLA Army Engineering University will host the International Cadet Week. Will this event be held this year? Could you please give us details about its preparation？
Answer: The PLA Army Engineering University will host the 7th International Cadet Week from October 27 to November 4. Up to now, 14 foreign military schools and 12 Chinese academies have confirmed to send cadets to the event. The International Cadet Week aims to provide a platform for young army officers and cadets to exchange ideas and learn from each other. The theme of this year’s event is “improving understanding and mutual learning and promoting cooperation for the future”. The International Cadet Week will focus on “the challenges posed by diversified military missions for junior commanding officers”. During the event, such activities as seminars, UN peacekeeping operations simulation, military lectures, shooting competition and activities concerning Chinese culture will be organized. This event has been providing a good platform for promoting the exchanges and understanding among Chinese and foreign young army officers and has also become a brand of the Chinese military in international military cooperation.
Question: According to media report, the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned days ago that if the NATO allies used China’s 5G communication network, it would imperil the military and intelligence relations between the US and Europe, and enable Beijing to have some kind of control of its NATO allies’ communication system. What’s your comment? As the National Day is around the corner, will the PLA Hong Kong Garrison stage celebrating activities and have celebrations together with Hong Kong citizens?
Answer: On the first question, the related remarks ignored basic facts and raised false alarms. We are firmly opposed to them. On the second question, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China is a big festival for all Chinese people in and outside China. Various celebrating activities will be held across the country and in different circles to celebrate the 70th birthday of the motherland.
Question: According to foreign media reports, some foreign satellite images showed that the USS Ronald Reagan was sailing in the South China Sea. There seemed to be many Chinese naval ships around it. Can you confirm that?
Answer: The US aircraft carrier group came to the South China Sea to flex muscles and escalate regional militarization. We are firmly opposed to that. We urge the US side to respect the security concerns of countries in the region and make positive contributions to the peace and stability in the South China Sea. The Chinese military will earnestly perform its duties and missions and firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security.
Question: We noticed that at the news conference of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council yesterday, the spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang said that the upcoming National Day is a grand festival for all the Chinese people at home and abroad. Taiwan compatriots will also participate in several important events. The military parade demonstrates China’s great achievements in national defense building. Many Taiwan compatriots feel proud of that. But also, some Taiwan media say this is a "show of muscles" by the mainland and poses a threat to Taiwan’s security. How would you respond to this?
Answer: As was mentioned by the spokesperson from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The state will host a number of commemorative activities and compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan will be invited to join us for the celebration. The Taiwan compatriots are part of the Chinese nation and should not be absent in the process of realizing the great rejuvenation of China. The PLA is a staunch force to safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and also a strong force to prevent secession and combat the "Taiwan independence" separatists.
Question: As you’ve announced in the beginning, the participants of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum will be invited to visit the exhibition “Achievements in International Military Cooperation over the 70 Years Since the Founding of the PRC”. Could you please brief us on the exhibition and is it open to the public?
Answer: I appreciate your kind concern on the international military cooperation of the armed forces. As authorized by the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Office for International Military Cooperation will host the exhibition entitled “Embracing the World for Peace: Achievements in International Military Cooperation over the 70 Years Since the Founding of the PRC”. It will kick off on September 30 in the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution. This is the only major themed exhibition held by the military for the celebration of the 70th anniversary.
Through extensive documentation, the exhibition will systematically show you the splendid journey and brilliant achievements of China’s international military cooperation under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the CMC. The exhibition will be comprised of an introduction and three main sections, which are named separately Born in War, Embarking on the New Journey of Foreign Military Exchanges, Advancing Military Diplomacy under the Theme of Peaceful Development and Striving for a New Look of International Military Cooperation in the New Era.
The exhibition will mainly demonstrate that since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era, people who work for China’s international military cooperation have been endeavoring to serve the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era with pioneering and innovative efforts, centering on actual combat readiness, and has contributed greatly to the building of the community of shared future for mankind as well as the Chinese Dream and the Dream of Building a Strong Military.
The exhibition will be open to the public. You’re all welcome to visit it and cover the event.
Question: Recently, Iranian media reported that China, Iran and Russia will hold a joint maritime exercise in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. Can you confirm that and brief us on the relevant arrangements?
Answer: I have no information to release on your question. The Chinese military maintains normal exchanges and cooperation with the armed forces of relevant countries.
Question: The word joint is one of the most frequently used words on the formations of the military parade. For example the establishment of the office of the joint command for the military parade, and the joint formation for integrated support of the foot formations, armament formations, and air echelons. What is the purpose and significance of this kind of arrangement?
Answer: The National Day military parade fully demonstrates the characteristics of joint operations. It focuses on implementing the functions and missions of the armed forces in providing four strategic supports and is designed in line with the requirement of joint operations. It is intended to fully demonstrate our capabilities of joint operation, joint training and joint support under the new leadership and command system. For example, on the organization and command of the parade, we established the Office of the Joint Command for the Military Parade to be responsible for joint planning, commanding and supervising.
Question: I have three questions. The first is that the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force is going to hold an international fleet review in October. According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese side has sent invitations to many countries including China, and that China will attend for the first time. Will China send naval vessels to attend the fleet review? If so, can you tell us which ship will be sent to the fleet review in Japan?
Due to the tensions in the Gulf region, the United States is planning to build a coalition of vessel protection involving 55 countries in November. Does China have the intention to build its own vessel protection taskforce to protect Chinese merchant ships?
A US aircraft carrier group is in the South China Sea. It seems that the US side has the tendency to do small tricks in the surrounding sea areas before China’s major festivals. Do you have any comment on that?
Answer: On your first question, I can now confirm that we have received invitation from the Japanese side. About whether we will send a ship to the international fleet review, the defense departments of the two countries are conducting consultations.
On your second question, China has been honestly performing its international obligation as a responsible major country. Based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions, since 2008, China has sent 33 batches of naval escort taskforces to conduct international escort missions and protect the safety of major SLOCs. In the future, the Chinese military will continue to provide international public security goods and contribute to world peace and regional stability.
As for the small trick conducted by warships of some countries around China, I want to stress that the glorious progress China has achieved in the past 70 years has proved no small tricks can impede the great development of China and the Chinese military. The Chinese military will resolutely fulfill its missions and tasks, resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests, and protect regional peace and stability.
Question: Media reports say that this year's conscription work went smoothly and it has become the first choice for many talented young people to join the military. Could you please brief us on this year’s conscription work?
Answer: The Chinese nation holds the fine tradition of revering the military and serving the country. The conscription work is the foundation for building a fortified national defense and a strong military. The Party and the state highly value this work. Compared to previous years, this year we put more emphasis on recruiting college students. We’ve seen growth in both the number and quality of college enlistees, who accounted for a record high proportion of the drafts.
There are two reasons for this. First, China boasts a very big talent pool of college students. It provides strong support for the recruitment of high-caliber enlistees. Second, as the Chinese military steps up the pace of its modernization, these enlistees now have more opportunities to realize their potential. We believe, with the continuous improvement of the social status of service members and the refinement of recruitment policies, more talented young people of draft age will be willing to join the military and make contributions to the realization of the Chinese dream and the dream to build a strong military.
Question: You just briefed us on the 7th Military World Games. Could you please tell us the features and highlights of this Games?
Answer: As I mentioned before, we have basically finished the preparations for the 7th Military World Games. The Chinese military delegations are stepping up their pre-match preparations, and nearly 10,000 athletes from 110 countries have signed up for the competition. We believe that the 7th Military World Games will be a wonderful sporting event. With the progress in the preparatory work, the organizing committee of the Military World Games will hold special press conferences in due course to release more information on the arrangements and highlights. Please just be patient.
If there are no more questions, I’d like to say a few more words. The 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC is around the corner. In the past seven decades, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the heroic people's armed forces, unyielding and unafraid of sacrifice, made great efforts for the Chinese people to stand up, grow rich and become strong, and made historical contributions to safeguarding national sovereignty and security, and world peace and stability. In particular, since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), under the guidance of the Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era, we have made historic achievements and changes in national defense and military build-up. The people's armed forces have now a new system, a new structure, a new pattern and a new look. It provides a strong strategic support for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, supporting national construction and safeguarding the safety of people's lives and property. In the new era, under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Party Central Committee, and the Central Military Commission, the armed forces will always remember why we started and keep in mind our founding mission, and work hard to open up new prospects for strengthening the military, as well as embark on a new journey to strengthen and rejuvenate our armed forces in the new era. Wish a happy birthday to our great motherland!
Here concludes today’s regular press conference. Thanks for coming.