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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on Mar.31

( Source: MOD  )         2016-March-31 22:46


Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on March 31, 2016. ( Youwen)
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)

Q: On 28th this month, the Defense Ministry of Japan deployed a coastal monitoring force on the Yonaguni Island. And right after that, on 29th, the New Security Law of Japan also took effect. Mr. spokesman, how would you comment on this series of actions by Japan?

A: You’ve raised a very good question. Actually, we indeed noticed that recently, the Japanese side had been very active in the military arena. We also noticed that Japan had loudly accused China of the so-called militarization on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. And it was quite delighted to do so. But today, let’s see what Japan did on the Yonaguni Island, which is just 100 kilometers and more from Taiwan of China and also the Diaoyu Islands. I also noticed that, according to media report, there were only two policemen and ten rounds of ammunition on the Island in the past.

But now, Japan suddenly deployed additional 150 self-defense force personnel and it also said that for the next step it would deploy a rapid reaction infantry regiment. So while the Japanese side constantly accused other side, how would it account for its own actions? Japan also liked to take “freedom of navigation” as an excuse to accuse other side. The South China Sea is very broad. If China’s deployment of necessary defense facilities on its islands and reefs is blamed for “undermining freedom of navigation”, what should Japan’s action be called when it strengthened military deployment around the narrow Yonaguni-Iriomote Channel, which is an international water channel connecting the East China Sea and the West Pacific?

As for the New Security Law of Japan, we have noticed that, from the initial discussion to the development and implementation of the New Security Law, Japan has been facing a lot of questioning and opposition. In history, the Japanese militarists brought terrible disasters to the international community, particularly to the nations and people in Asia. In recent years, Japan substantially adjusted its military and security policies to break the limit of the Peace Constitution. Whether Japan will repeat the mistake in history, I think, is worthy of all parties’ vigilance.

Q: The U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work said yesterday that the America had warned China that if China establishes the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, the U.S. will not recognize it. How do you respond to this? According to media reports, China will put DF-41 missile into service this year. Can you confirm this?

A: For the ADIZ in the South China Sea, we have repeated our position on many occasions. What I need to underscore here is that to set up an ADIZ is the right of a sovereign state and we don’t need other countries to make suggestions.

On your second question, I don’t have any information to release here.

Q: In recent “Joint Evacuation - 2016” China-UK Joint Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) tabletop exercise, we witnessed the debut of the Overseas Operation Division which is under the Operation Bureau of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC). What is the purpose of establishing such a division? What are its major functions?

A: In recent years, as China continues to strengthen its comprehensive national and military power, China has performed overseas operations for many times and actively fulfilled international responsibilities and duties.

In this round of reform, the Overseas Operation Division is established under the Operation Bureau of the Joint Staff Department of the CMC. It is responsible for the planning, preparation and execution of overseas military operations other than war (MOOTW) for the PLA and the Armed Police Force (APF).

Its main functions include: to plan overseas military operations, to coordinate and organize activities including international peacekeeping, overseas naval escort mission, international relief, protection and evacuation of overseas Chinese, and China’s joint military exercises and training with foreign countries, to establish a coordination mechanism with Central and State agencies on overseas military operations, and to participate in and organize international exchanges and cooperation related to overseas military operations.

I should underscore here that when participating in overseas military operations, Chinese military consistently complies with the UN Charter and the universally recognized norms governing international relations, and is committed to working with foreign militaries to strengthen exchanges and cooperation and jointly safeguard regional and world peace and stability.

Q: The Philippines and the United States have recently reached an agreement to allow the U.S. military to use five different military bases on different locations on a rotation basis, one of which is an air force base located at the Palawan Island which is near the Nansha Islands. How do you comment?

A: In early 1990s, the United States evacuated its military bases in the Philippines. The reason for that action was quite clear and I think our friends in the Philippines are most clear about that.

Now, the U.S. has come back and reinforced its military presence in the Philippines and promoted the militarization in the South China Sea. To strengthen military alliance is a reflection of Cold War mentality, and it is in the opposite direction of the trend of an era for peaceful development and win-win cooperation.

We demand related parties to abandon the outdated Cold War mentality. When carrying out bilateral military cooperation, it should not target at the third party, it should not undermine the third party’s interests and it should not affect the regional peace and stability.

Q: The CMC has announced that the PLA will stop providing paid services. Can you explain this decision? Does that mean military hospitals will stop providing medical services to civilians? Does that mean art troupes of the PLA will stop their performances?

A: According to the unified arrangement of the CMC, we plan to spend about three years to stop all paid services of the PLA and the Armed Police Force (APF) in steps. The notice issued by the CMC on the stopping all paid services of the PLA and the APF clearly mandates that medical, scientific research and other social security tasks as well as national mandatory tasks should be incorporated into the system of military-civilian integration development and innovate policies and systems to regulate them.

For example, as you have mentioned, the military hospitals and other medical institutions will continue to provide medical services to civilian people under the condition of completing the military medical support tasks, and a new model will be explored for incorporating them into the national health care system.

Q: Ma Yingjiu, the leader of Taiwan region, and later, its foreign department, invited foreign media to visit the Taiping Island in the South China Sea for media coverage. How would you comment, in the perspective of the PLA, on such an action? Since the Taiping Island is open to foreign media for visit and media coverage, when will the mainland open such islands as the Nansha Islands and the Xisha Islands to foreign media? Thank you.

A: My colleague in the Taiwan Affairs Office answered your first question yesterday, so I will not reiterate here. Your second question, as I understand, is about how overseas reporters as well as those from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao apply for permission to make media coverage on the Nansha Islands or the Xisha Islands. From the perspective of personnel management, the reporters from Taiwan should apply for that to the Taiwan Affairs Office, and foreign reporters should apply for that to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But from the perspective of location management, the Nansha Islands or the Xisha Islands are within the jurisdiction of Sansha City of Hainan Province. So if you have such needs, I suggest that you apply to relevant departments of Sansha City of Hainan Province

Q: The society has always been interested in the reform of art troupes of the PLA. We have noticed recently that the former Song and Dance Ensemble of the PLA General Political Department had a new identity debut as the Song and Dance Ensemble of the CMC Political Work Department. In addition, the art troupes of the former seven Military Area Commands and services like the Navy and the Air Force are also under adjustment. Does this mean that the reform for military art organizations is near completion?

A: This is a very good question and actually I believe it is somewhat connected to the question raised by the reporter from AFP. To Deepen the defense and military reform is being proceeded in steps according to plan. In 2015, we mainly organized and completed the reform on leadership and management system, joint operational commanding system with corresponding adjustment of relations and names of certain units along the chains of command. For example, the former Song and Dance Ensemble of the General Political Department was renamed as the Song and Dance Ensemble of the CMC Political Work Department, the former General Hospital of the Second Artillery Force was renamed as the Rocket Force General Hospital.

In 2016, the focus of the reform will be put on the adjustment of military size and structure as well as institutional reform on policies. The optimization and adjustment scheme for certain units including art troupes is now under study and verification.

Q: There are media reports that Indian defense minister is to visit China in the coming weeks. Can you give us some details about the visit, including the date and agenda? There are reports in Indian media about the presence of the PLA troops in the disputed territory of Kashmir on the Pakistani side. Can you account for it? Are they working on the particular project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor? Is there any other reason?

A: As for your first question, according to the agreement between China and India, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar will visit China within the year. Both sides will exchange ideas on a number of issues including bilateral military cooperation. At present, the two defense departments are coordinating related issues on this visit.

As for the second question, China’s position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and the reports you mentioned are groundless.

Q: According to reports, there is a significant increase in Japan’s defense budget of 2016 which exceeds 5 trillion yen or 41.9 billion U.S. dollars for the first time. Besides, the New Security Law of Japan which was passed by the Japanese Congress last year came into effect on March 29, 2016. How would you comment on this?

A: I have answered the question on the New Security Law.

And we have noticed that Japan dramatically increased its defense budget. Japan frequently made irresponsible remarks on China’s normal defense spending growth.

In fact, Japan, under different pretexts, has been increasing the defense budget for several years in a row and has greatly expanded its military armament. This triggered high alert from its Asian neighbors and international community.

The Japanese side should earnestly improve its military transparency and explain to the international community the true motives of its military power expansion.

Q: There are reports saying that recently the PLA will issue a new type of military officer ID. Could you confirm that?

A: According to the deployment requirements of deepening the national defense and military reform, and approved by the CMC, the PLA will officially issue and use the type-2016 ID for military officers and civilian officers. The renewal of the IDs mainly adapts to the new military commanding structure and further strengthens the precise management of the military and civilian officers.

The new ID will give each officer a unique identification number, which substantially increases the degree of anti-fake, compatibility and digitalization with technical means and informationized processing.

The production, registration and issue of the new ID will be gradually implemented and completed before the end of June as planned.

Q: Recently, South Korea’s military themed TV drama called “Descendants of the Sun” has become popular with many Chinese young people. Some opinions held that Chinese military should learn from Korean experience to make TV dramas that can promote the Chinese military’s new image. How would you comment? According to reports, after China confirmed to build supporting facilities in Djibouti, China is trying to ease the worries about its military expansion from the outside. So, Mr. spokesman, how would you view such worries? Could you brief us on the construction plan of Djibouti supporting facility?

A: First, l can tell you that I am also a fan of military themed TV dramas. As for the Korean drama you just mentioned, if I praise it, I might be suspected of making advertisement. But if I criticize it, its producer and fans on Internet might give the press conference a negative feedback. So I choose not to answer your question here.

As for your second question, I think such worries are absolutely not necessary. According to relevant resolutions of the United Nations, ever since 2008, the Chinese side has sent 22 task forces with altogether more than 60 military vessels to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to carry out naval escort missions. And in that process, we have discovered many difficulties in, for example, making our officers and soldiers have good rest, making replenishment of food and oil and maintaining our ships and vessels. Therefore, it is necessary to provide nearby highly-efficient logistics support.

After consultations with Djibouti, China and Djibouti reached a consensus on building a supporting facility of China in Djibouti. And this facility will be mainly used for rest and replenishment when carrying out such tasks as naval escort in the vicinity of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, peace keeping, humanitarian aid and disaster relief, etc,. To build supporting facility of China in Djibouti is mainly for better shouldering international obligations and protecting China’s legal interests.

What need to underscore here is that China strictly adheres to the road of peaceful development. We uphold a national defense policy defensive in nature and firmly maintain the security and stability in the region and the world as well. We will never conduct arms race and military expansion. All of this will not be changed. Currently, the infrastructure construction in Djibouti was launched and the Chinese side already sent some personnel there to carry out related work.

Q: The U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary said that, in the next few weeks, the International Tribunal may make a decision on the disputed territory in the South China Sea according to international laws. It might lead to the establishment of an ADIZ in the South China Sea just as what China did in 2013 in the East China Sea. The spokesman has been saying that whether to establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea or not will depend on comprehensive factors. Will the possible decision by the International Tribunal be counted as one of the factors?

The second question is about the defense expenditure. The defense expenditure of 2016 was publicized during the “Two Sessions”. Some analysts hold that the defense expenditure of China maybe have hidden portion which includes the expenditure on the purchase of hi-tech weapon system and on the research and development of military technology. Do you have any comment on that?

The growth rate of the defense budget for this year is the lowest within last 6 years. There are also media reports saying that for the personnel cuts of 300,000 persons, and according to sources from the military, the settlement expenditure for each person of them would reach RMB 300,000 yuan. Will that be included in the defense budget? If so, will this lowest growth rate of defense budget be able to guarantee the lawful rights of the persons to be cut?

A: As for your first question, I’d like to reiterate here that the establishment of an ADIZ is a matter within sovereignty scope. Whether or not to set up an ADIZ depends on the assessment of whether or not we face air security threat and the degree of that air security threat.

For the defense expenditure, there are several supporting areas of the 2016 defense expenditure. First, it will ensure strong support to national defense and military reform to make sure we can carry out the plan for a number of reform tasks, including downsizing and restructuring, optimal adjustment of operational system, etc,. Secondly, the budget will ensure the increasing investment on equipment construction in major security areas, which means to eliminate some old and obsolete equipment and gradually upgrade the equipment to later generation. Thirdly, it will support the building of a team of highly-qualified military talents. Fourthly, it will be used to improve conditions of training, working and living of grassroots units. Fifthly, it will promote in-depth integration of military and civilian sectors and give support to border and coastal defense construction.

According to the requirements of legislation including the National Defense Law and the Budget Law, the Chinese government has incorporated all defense expenditures involving national defense development into the national budget which was submitted to the National People’s Congress for review, there is no issue of hidden defense expenditure.

From the supportive areas I have mentioned, we can see that it has covered military reform, armaments development, talents cultivation, combat preparation and training, national defense mobilization, border and coastal defense construction, etc,. All these factors have been taken into consideration. So this arrangement has been finalized according to both the task of defense and military development in 2016 and also the current economic and financial situation, and it is able to meet the demand of safeguarding national sovereignty and security.

Q: The spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned on March 24th that China had been invited to participate in the “RIMPAC-2016” Joint Exercise and China had also confirmed that it would participate in that exercise. What subjects will China participate in during this exercise? Will there be any differences as compared with the “RIMPAC-2014”? Will the number of Chinese participating troops be increased?

My second question is about the new military officer ID and civilian officer ID. There is news saying that they will be made similar to the normal civilian ID or the public transportation ID in China. Is that true? And do you have more information to share?

A: For the “RIMPAC-2016”, the latest information I can offer here is that China will participate in the final planning conference in the U.S. in early April at the invitation of the U.S. Side. During the final planning conference, the Chinese side will coordinate and communicate on certain issues with the host.

For the new military officer ID, I haven’t got it myself. I will show you as soon as I get it.

Q: What was the total income generated by the paid services last year? And how much of the total income was really collected by the PLA and how much was wasted on such factors as corruption? What will be the impact of the paid services reform on the PLA finance? Some experts said the PLA is 20 or 30 years behind the U.S. in terms of military capabilities. What is your comment?

A: I think your first question still focuses on the paid services of the PLA. The additional information I can give to you is that after the PLA and Armed Police Force (APF) banned all commercial activities in 1998, certain external paid services were still allowed in certain units and trades such as medical service and spare real estate property leasing.

The PLA and the APF decide to fully stop external paid services and this is an important decision made by the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and President Xi Jinping, and it will help to purify the troops’ morale, keep the true quality and nature of the military, and also focus more on core military capacity building.

As for your second question regarding the Chinese military power development, indeed, in recent years, the development of China’s military power has become a hot topic among media and scholars at home and abroad.

There are various kinds of comments and deductions, some of them are positive while others are negative. As the spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, I truly cannot comment on them one by one.

However, no matter whether the comments are positive or negative, the Chinese armed forces will focus on doing their own job.

Q: Recent photos on the Internet show that the main hull of the first aircraft carrier built by China has been almost completed and it will not be long before it is launched. Could you confirm this and tell us which stage the construction of this aircraft carrier is at? There are reports saying that the Y-20 transport aircraft will be commissioned to the PLA in this year. Can you verify that?

A: For the China-built aircraft carrier, we had shared information with you at the routine press conference last December. The carrier is still being built. The follow-on work will depend on its construction status.

As for your second question, the heavy transporter Y-20 is under experiments and flight tests. Its delivery depends on the progress of the experiments and flight tests.

Q: During the previous press conference, the spokesman of China’s Ministry of National Defense verified that the contract on the Su-35 Aircraft between China and Russia had gained a phased progress. However, related people in Russia told media that the contract had not come into effect and the aircraft could not be delivered in 2016. Does this mean that there are some problems in the cooperation between the two sides? My second question is: on 30th this month, the New York Times reported that a cruiser of the U.S. navy was tracked and monitored by the PLA Navy vessel when sailing in the South China Sea. And the New York Times called it “a dangerous greeting”. How would you comment on that?

A: As for your first question, there had been a lot of speculations. What I want to point out is that our military technical cooperation with Russia maintains a good momentum of steady and healthy development. And specific projects in aviation sectors are proceeding according to plan.

As for your second question, I don’t know what is the situation or circumstances since I did not read the report. What I can tell you is that Chinese Navy’s operations in related maritime areas are legal and professional. To the Americans who have laboriously sailed thus far, what I can say is "conduct yourself well".

Editor :  Yao Jianing