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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on July 28

( Source: China Military Online  )         2016-July-28 23:59


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 July 28, 2016. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)
(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 Yang Yujun:

Good afternoon, friends from the media. Welcome to attend the regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense of this month.

In order to better introduce China’s national defense policy and armed forces building to both domestic and foreign public, and at the request of friends from the media, starting from this month, we have once again expanded the participation of our regular press conference by inviting a number of journalists to attend. We hope to have closer exchanges and interactions with you all in the future. Welcome!

Now, the floor is open for questions.

Question: Recently, severe floods struck different places in China and the country is facing a tough task of disaster relief and flood prevention. Could you please bring us up-to-date on the armed forces’ participation in flood prevention and disaster relief?

Answer:Facing increasingly serious flooding in various places, officers and men of the PLA and the PAPF launched themselves into flood prevention and disaster relief operations. For example, on July 27, 53,574 officers and soldiers, including 12,563 PLA members, and 41,011 PAPF members, 9,037 militiamen, 1,152 pieces of engineering machinery, 551 charge boats, 1 helicopter, and 3,191 pieces of vehicle took part in disaster relief operations in different localities.

Throughout the day, we evacuated 9,730 civilians, provided medical service to 1,980 people, transported 170 tons of material and 24,000 cubic meters of soil and stone, and rush repaired 20.2 kilometers of road. At present, officers and soldiers of relevant units are still on the front line of disaster relief and are keeping high alert and are always ready.

The Chinese armed forces are confident and capable of fulfilling the task of flood prevention and disaster relief entrusted by the Party and people.

Question: Huffington Post of the U.S. reported that the European Council on Foreign Relations recently stated that in the past five years, China’s military power in Africa has undergone deep changes and it is very important for China to re-position itself in security affairs in Africa. What is your comment?

It was disclosed that Japan’s Self Defense White Paper 2016 that has yet to be published includes contents concerning South China Sea, and in the white paper Japan accuses China of being more aggressive in the South China Sea. Do you have any comment?

Answer:China attaches great importance to the solidarity and cooperation with developing countries, African countries included. Chinese military has taken an active part in security affairs in Africa, participating in 16 United Nations peacekeeping missions on the continent, contributing more than 27,000 peacekeepers. We have sent naval task groups to the Gulf of Aden and waters off the coast of Somalia to undertake escort missions.

Up to now, 68 warships in 23 batches of the PLA Navy escort task groups have provided escort to more than 6,200 Chinese and foreign ships. We have provided training on demining as well as a large number of equipment for many African countries, helping them get rid of the side-effect of war.

When African countries were struck by major natural disasters, the Chinese military helped relevant Chinese government departments to provide emergency humanitarian assistance. We have also sent medical teams and hospital ships to provide African people with medicines and medical services. In the future, the Chinese armed forces will continue to make contributions to peace and security in Africa.

As for the second question, we have noticed relevant report. Since the Self Defense White Paper of Japan hasn’t been published, we still need to confirm and have a study on relevant situation. However, in recent years, Japan has always made use of such occasions as the publication of defense white paper to make groundless accusations against China and tarnish China’s image by hyping up the so-called “China military threat”, and we are familiar with such kind of behavior of the Japanese side, the purpose of which is self-evident.

In particular, I’d like to make a suggestion to the Japanese side: Stop pointing fingers on the South China Sea issue.

Question: Since the ruling of the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Philippines was made, the response from China has been relatively restrained. Would the PLA prefer a more forcible response to the ruling?

Answer:I think your question is on the South China Sea arbitration case initiated by the Philippines. Our stance on this issue has been articulated on numerous occasions. The ruling is not effective and has no binding force. China will not accept nor recognize this result. Such a ruling will not affect the sovereignty and maritime interests and rights of China in the South China Sea.

The Chinese military will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty, security and maritime interests and rights, firmly safeguard regional peace and stability, and firmly deal with various kinds of threats and challenges.

Question: Firstly, on the China-Russia joint maritime exercise, the spokesperson said before that the two sides are conducting consultations on this joint exercise. Do you have further information to offer? Secondly, it is said that China has withdrawn its HQ-9 ground-to-air missile systems from the Yongxing Island in the South China Sea, could you please confirm that?

Besides, the Chinese military always says that it will deploy defensive weaponry and equipment on its islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Could you please tell us whether China has deployed weapons of such kind?

Answer:On your first question, in accordance with the consensus reached between Russia and China, the two navies will hold the Joint Sea 2016 joint maritime exercise in relevant sea and airspace in the South China Sea in September.

This is a routine exercise between the two militaries, aiming to consolidate and develop China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, deepen friendly and practical mil-to-mil cooperation, and enhance the capabilities of the two navies to jointly deal with maritime security threats. The exercise is not targeting any third party.

I will answer your second and third questions together. The Chinese military’s deployment and rotation of troops, weaponry and equipment on China’s own islands is our own business, and there is no need to read too much into it.

Question: My question is concerning the decision by the U.S. and the ROK to deploy the THAAD system in the Republic of Korea (ROK). China worried that the radar of the THAAD system will cover most areas of China. However, the U.S. and the ROK decided to deploy a terminal monitoring system that can’t monitor a large area. At least it’s the explanation from the ROK side. How does the Chinese side comment on the explanation?

Secondly, the state media recently reported the story of Chen Deming, an expert on missile and anti-missile test, and publicized China’s medium-range anti-missile test. Some people comment that this is a countermeasure to the deployment of the THAAD system by the U.S. and the ROK. Can you confirm it? What kind of countermeasures will China take to the deployment of the THAAD system by the U.S. and the ROK?

Answer:On the joint announcement of the U.S. and the ROK to deploy the THAAD system in the ROK, we have expressed our position very clearly. We are deeply dissatisfied and we are firmly opposed to such a deployment. We will pay close attention to relevant actions of the U.S. and the ROK and will take necessary measures to maintain national strategic security as well as regional strategic equilibrium.

As to the technical explanation that has been given by the U.S. and the ROK, those who are fully aware of the matter can see through those excuses very easily.

As to your question on the media report, to publicize exemplary individuals and outstanding conducts through media is a common practice of the military to set examples, boost morale and promote development. To be frank, we do not need to express our opposition indirectly by making media reports on exemplary individuals.

Question: Reports in India recently said about PLA troops’ incursions into areas called Chumar district where PLA troops as well as a helicopter were spotted. And Indian media widely reported that today. I would like to have your reactions on that.

And secondly, there are media reports that India has recently beefed up presence in the Ladakh region to match China’ infrastructure and capability improving in the region. So how does China look at this particular build-up of the Indian military in the Ladakh region?

Answer:On your first question, I still need to verify the authenticity of the reports that you have mentioned. I’d like to stress that the Chinese border defense troops always strictly abide by relevant agreement signed between the two sides, always conduct activities on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and that we are committed to maintaining peace and stability along the China-India border.

On your second question, we have taken notice of relevant reports. I’d like to emphasize that China and India are neighbors and partners, and we are neither rivals nor enemies. It is the common aspiration of the Chinese and Indian people to maintain peace and stability along the border.

We hope that the Indian side can work toward the same direction as the Chinese side does, implement the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries on border issues, and make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquility along the China-Indian borderline.

Question: President Xi Jinping recently called to deepen reform of national defense and the military. In which aspects does the PLA need to be reformed and what kind of difficulties is the PLA facing in this reform?

Answer:You can find the answer to this question in the news report by the Xinhua News Agency published yesterday, which was about a speech made by President Xi Jinping at the 34th collective study of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on adhering to the Party’s aim of building a strong army and striving to build a consolidated national defense and powerful armed forces under the new situation. This report by Xinhua gives a comprehensive and systematic introduction to Chinese military reform. You can refer to that for information.

Question: General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, said when meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice that the Chinese military will act as a staunch pillar for safeguarding national territorial sovereignty and security. Admiral Wu Shengli, commander of the PLA Navy, also stressed that the sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea are China’s core interests and have to do with the governing position of the Communist Party of China. Can such remarks be interpreted as the Chinese military drawing a red line to the U.S. side on the South China Sea issue?

In addition, Admiral John Richardson, chief of the U.S. Naval Operations, said after his visit to China that he had clearly stated the U.S. side’s stance to the Chinese counterpart. If China establishes the South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, or if China conducts land reclamation in the Huangyan Island, all such activities will be regarded as activities related to the interests of the U.S. side. Can his remarks be interpreted as the U.S. side drawing a red line to China?

The second question, the Military Court recently has made its first instance verdict on Guo Boxiong’s case of taking bribes. Guo was sentenced to life imprisonment, deprivation of all property, stripping of his rank as full general. What’s your comment on such an announcement of verdict made just before the 89th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese PLA?

The third question, Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan, suggested that the Taiping Island is to be transformed into a base for international humanitarian assistance. But many people in Taiwan believed that Tsai Ing-wen is actually suggesting to lease the island to the U.S. side as a military base. What’s your comment?

Answer:On the first question, China has sovereignty over the islands and reefs of the South China Sea and their adjacent waters. It is the sure responsibility of the Chinese military to safeguard the national sovereignty security, territorial integrity as well as maritime interests and rights.

On the South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), we have reiterated our position on numerous occasions that it is within the sovereign rights of a country to establish the ADIZ. As to whether or when to establish such a zone, it depends on whether China is facing security threats from the air, and it also depends on the level of the threat.

On the Huangyan Island, the Huangyan Island is an inherent territory of China. China has the right to take measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security, and deal with various threats.

On the second question about the Military Court’s verdict on the Guo Boxiong case, the trial of the Guo Boxiong case in accordance with law fully demonstrates the firm resolve of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the General Secretary to administer the military according to law and enforce strict discipline. It also demonstrates the strong will of the Party Central Committee and the Central Military Commission to punish corruption. The handling of the case has been given a positive response among the rank and file, and is of great significance for deterring corrupt behavior, boosting morale, and protecting the image of the armed forces.

The trial and sentencing of Guo Boxiong has again demonstrated that there will be no place for corrupt individuals in the military, and no Party member is above the law or Party discipline. Cases of corruption in the military, whoever is involved , regardless of his or her rank, will be dealt with without toleration.

On the question concerning the Taiping Island, China enjoys sovereignty over the islands and reefs of the South China Sea and their adjacent waters. It is the common responsibility of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation.

Question: In the news release of the Xinhua News Agency on July 25 concerning the Guo Boxiong case, the amount of the bribery involved or the persons who have offered the bribes was not mentioned. Could you please share more information with us on this regard?

Answer:On the details of the case, previously, the PLA Military Procuratorate and the Military Court have respectively given some briefings on the case, and also there are relevant media reports. You can refer to these sources for information.

Question: Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to join the press conference of the Ministry of National Defense as an internet media. My question is that the U.S. media reported that the first domestically produced aircraft carrier of China will have completed its construction by the end of the year and China may soon become a superpower of aircraft carriers. Since many netizens are very interested in the progress of the construction of China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, could you please confirm whether the report is true or not? When will the construction of the first domestically produced aircraft carrier be completed and do you have a detailed timetable?

Answer:On the basic information of the first domestically-made aircraft carrier, we have offered information in a previous press conference. Currently, relevant work has been conducted in accordance with the plan and we will offer more information in due time. I’m also looking forward to the good news as many of our friends do.

Question: Recently, the PLA Air Force announced that they were going to conduct routine patrolling in the South China Sea. Could you please give us some details about it?

And, secondly, some media reported that the stealth fighter jets J-20 are about to be fitted out. Could you please tell us more information about this project?

And thirdly, some media noted that none of the 36 top scorers in the National College Entrance Examination from 22 provinces in the country has chosen to enter the military academy or institutions. How would comment on such a phenomenon? Could you brief us on the enrollment of the military academies and national defense students?

Answer:On the specific operation, the spokesperson of the PLA Air Force has already made a reply. I’d like to stress that China enjoys sovereignty over the islands and reefs in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters. It is necessary for the Chinese armed forces to conduct routine patrols in relevant maritime and air space in the South China Sea to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as maritime rights and interests.

On your second question, it is very normal and necessary for various new types of weaponry and equipment to be developed and tested. And relevant work is carried out according to plan.

And on your third question, I do not have any information about the enrollment of military academies and I have no statistics available as to the enrollment of the top scorers of the National College Entrance Examination. But, every year, there are a large number of young people, good in character and excellent in study, apply to study in military academies. And the military welcomes all those young people who are committed to national defense to join us.

Question: At the recently-concluded China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, foreign ministers of China and ASEAN countries issued a joint statement reiterating comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). It was re-emphasized that no party should take construction activities on uninhabited islands. We know that the DOC was signed in 2002 and many countries just ignored the DOC afterwards. What is the difference between the signing the DOC and the re-emphasis on the implementation of the DOC?

Recently, there is a picture on the Internet of the Type 094A strategic nuclear submarine, which is said to be capable of launching the JL-3 inter-continental ballistic missile. The place where the picture was taken was said to be in a military base of China in the South China Sea. It is also said that China is making land reclamation on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea for the purpose of protecting its submarine base in the Hainan Island. Could you please confirm?

Answer:The joint statement on comprehensive and effective implementation of the DOC was issued by Chinese foreign minister and foreign ministers of 10 ASEAN nations. Therefore, for the interpretation and explanation of the document, I suggest you to refer the question to my colleagues of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

On the second question about the pictures of weapons, military equipment and facilities, there are too many of them circulating on the Internet. Some of them are real and some are fake ones. It is indeed impossible for a spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense to verify each one of them.

The second question also touches upon military deployment. I can tell you a secret that the Chinese military follows a doctrine in this regard that armaments will be deployed where they should be deployed.

Question: My question is on the Guo Boxiong case. How will you describe Guo Boxiong’s social network? Can it be called a faction or a group? What is its size? What impact did Guo’s corrupt behavior have on the Chinese military?

Answer:Your question concerns the conviction and verdict of Guo Boxiong case. Relevant officers of the Military Court has said when answering reporter’s question that through legal process, the Military County established that Guo Boxiong had taken advantage of his position to assist the promotion and transfer of job of other people, and accepted bribes illegally alone or by collaborating with others. Guo’s behavior has constituted the crime of taking bribes.

Guo’s amount of bribery was very huge and his crime were very serious. After he was investigated, Guo Boxiong confessed his crimes, and sincerely expressed remorse. All his illicit proceeds have been confiscated.

Based on facts and according to law, the Military Court sentenced Guo to life imprisonment, life long deprivation of his political rights, as well as confiscation of his property, delivery of his illegal proceeds to the State Treasury, and deprivation of his rank as full general.

Question: Recently, a number of Chinese peacekeepers lost their lives or got injured while on duty, and the security of Chinese peacekeepers has drawn attention from the public. How do you comment on this new problem? In the future, what kind of adjustment will the Chinese military make on its plan of sending peacekeepers overseas?

Answer:On your first question. Recently, Chinese peacekeeping units stationed in Mali and South Sudan suffered from two separate attacks, resulting in the death of 3 soldiers and several injuries.

After the attacks, the Chinese military immediately sent work teams to the sites, coordinated with relevant countries and international organizations to take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese peacekeeping forces. At the same time, the Chinese peacekeeping units closely monitored the local security situation, and consolidated the security protection system, so as to improve the security protection and rapid response capability.

On your second question, China will unswervingly participate in the UN peacekeeping operations, continue to fulfill the obligations of a responsible big power, and make contributions to safeguarding world peace.

Question: A video has been officially publicized on China’s ground-based mid-course anti-missile interception. Does this mean that China is deploying its own missile defense system? Foreign media estimated that if Vietnam attacks Taiping Island, the Chinese PLA will send troops to help with its defense. What’s your comment?

Answer:On your first question, to develop suitable capabilities of missile defense is necessary for China to maintain national security and improve defense capabilities. It is not targeting any other country or target nor is it jeopardizing the international strategic equilibrium.

On the question concerning the Taiping Island, I’ve already answered it.

Question: The International Army Games 2016 started yesterday in Russia. What fields pose more challenge to the Chinese participants and in which games are Chinese participants are most likely to win?

It is reported that, next year, this game will be hosted by China. Has the consensus been reached on the items and locality of the Game?

Answer:Upon invitation, the Chinese side recently dispatched several units to take part in the International Army Games 2016 co-hosted by Russia and Kazakhstan.

The purpose of China’s participation is to strengthen friendship and mutual trust with relevant military, to learn useful experience from our foreign counterparts, to demonstrate the quality and image of Chinese military and also to help boost our military training and weaponry and equipment development.

Of course, we hope that our participants can achieve good results during the competition. As for the arrangement for the next international army games, as far as I know, consultations are still being conducted between relevant countries.

Question: The China-Russia joint maritime exercise always raises much international attention each year. Why did China and Russia choose to conduct the joint exercise you’ve just mentioned in the South China Sea? Will it intensify tension in this region? China has built three airstrips on the islets and reefs in the Nansha Islands. Will these airstrips be used by military aircraft?

Answer:China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners, and in recent years, the two countries have conducted a lot of joint military exercises on land and at sea, which have helped strengthen mutual trust, promote practical cooperation, and enhance military-to-military cooperation. Such kind of cooperation actually contributes to regional peace and stability.

On the second question, as we have stated many times that China’s construction activities on the Nansha Islands are for multiple purposes. The construction activities will largely serve civilian purpose while meeting necessary defense requirements.

For example, in the first half of this year, the PLA Navy patrol aircraft landed on the Yongshu Reef to evacuate a worker who suffered from serious disease to Sanya of the Hainan Province to receive medical treatment. This demonstrates fully the humanitarian function of such airstrips.

The August 1st, PLA (Chinese People’s Liberation Army) Day, is just around the corner. In order to commemorate the 89th anniversary of the PLA, we made a short video clip titled “PLA Today-2016” and a booklet introducing the PLA. You are welcome to take them after the press conference.

Besides, in my recent interactions with journalists, a friend asked me about the copyright and reprinting of videos and pictures on the MOD (Ministry of Defense) website. I’d like to take this opportunity to answer the question. On the official MOD (Ministry of Defense) website, all videos and pictures with MOD (Ministry of Defense) copyright can be reprinted for free on the condition that the original copyright is specified. Pictures and videos whose copyrights are marked otherwise, please contact the original source website.

Thank you.

Here concludes to the press conference, see you next time.

Editor :  Yao Jianing