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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on Feb.23

( Source: MOD  )         2017-February-24 02:11


Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on Feb. 23, 2017. (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.)
 

Colonel Ren Guoqiang:

Dear friends from the press: Good afternoon! Welcome to this year’s first regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I am Colonel Ren Guoqiang, Deputy Director General of the Information Office and spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense of the PRC. I am looking forward to establishing a close working relationship and becoming friends with you, so as to better introduce China’s national defense and military construction.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Question: It is reported that the Japanese government intended to revise its defense guidelines at an earlier date. Analysts pointed out that the purpose was to clear the way for Japan to deploy the THAAD system and the land-based Aegis missile defense system. What is your comment? Secondly, could you please update us on the first domestically-built aircraft carrier of China? It is said that the first domestically-built aircraft carrier will be launched soon and it will be named the Shandong. There is even a suggestion that it should be named the Taiwan. What is your comment?

Answer: On the first question, we have noticed relevant report. Due to historical reasons, moves taken by Japan in the fields of military and security have always been followed closely by its Asian neighbors and the international community. We urge Japan to take history as a mirror, observe its commitment to the path of peaceful development, and do more to improve mutual trust with its neighbors and contribute more to regional peace and stability.

On the second question, people from all walks of life have been paying close attention to the development of China’s domestically-built aircraft carrier, and I share their interests as well. My colleagues have released information on the aircraft carrier on many occasions. I have no further information to offer right now.

Question: According to recent Taiwan media reports, former director of the Taibei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said that when the new AIT building was completed and put into use in Taibei this year, the US side would send members of the Marine Corps to provide security protection to the venue. He also said it would be a symbol of the US commitment to Taiwan. What is your comment?

Answer: We have noticed relevant report, and we are consistently opposed to any form of official exchange and military contact between the US and Taiwan.

Question: According to Hong Kong media, after the death of Kim Jong-nam, the elder brother of the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia, China has recently beefed up its military presence along the China-DPRK border by dispatching 1,000 military personnel there, so as to prepare for unexpected events. Could you please verify the report and brief us on the situation?

Answer: The report on the PLA’s reinforcing deployment along the China-DPRK border that you mentioned is groundless and pure fabrication.

Question: There is a lot of information circulating on the Internet this week concerning the reform of the Chinese military academies. It is said a large number of military faculty will be discharged from active duty and commissioned as civilian staffs, and more than 30 military academies will be downsized. Could you please confirm? Is this move another adjustment in the talent training system of the Chinese military?

Answer: Currently, the reform of size, structure and composition of the armed forces is pressing ahead according to plan. Relevant departments of the military will release relevant information in due time.

Question: Since Feb. 18, the US Navy Carl Vinson Carrier Combat Group entered the South China Sea for patrol. This was the first of such kind of patrols since the US President Trump took office. What is your comment on it? What is your expectation on the mil-to-mil relationship between China and the US under the new administration?

Secondly, the Republic of Korea (ROK) will return another batch of remains of the Chinese People’s Volunteers to China on Mar. 22. Does this show that the mil-to-mil relationship between China and ROK has started to be pushed ahead? Does the obstacle posed by the deployment of the THAAD system have been removed?

Answer: We are aware of the activities of the US Navy Carl Vinson Carrier Combat Group. We hope that the US side can respect the sovereignty and security concerns of regional countries, and earnestly respect the efforts made by regional countries in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea. We respect the freedom of navigation and over-flight that all countries enjoy in the South China Sea in accordance with international law. Currently, the situation in the South China Sea is generally peaceful and stable. We hope that the US side can contribute positive energies to the sound situation of the region, rather than the opposite.

On China-US mil-to-mil relations, a healthy and stable China-US mil-to-mil relationship accords to the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples, and is conducive to the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. It needs nurturing from both sides. We hope the US side can work with the Chinese side to strengthen communication and avoid misperceptions, so as to move forward the mil-to-mil relationship on the right track.

On the return of the remains of the Chinese People’s Volunteers by the ROK, we always cherish the memories of those heroic Chinese people’s volunteers who laid down their lives in the war fought for the course of human progress and global peace. On the specific issue, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs is taking in charge and I would like to refer you to them for information.

Question: Some demobilized service members voiced their difficulties in life. What measures will the Ministry of National Defense take to address their difficulties?

Answer: The Party Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission care a lot about the welfare of the demobilized service members and pay great attention to resolving their difficulties in life. A series of policies and measures have been promulgated. The local party committees and governments at all levels have done a lot to better the welfare of the them, and the living conditions for some of them have been improved.

We believe that with the deepening of the reform, the further development of the economy, the improvement of various social security mechanisms and the implementation of relevant policies, the temporary difficulties that they are facing at present will be gradually overcome.

Question: Recent reports said that China would take part in this year’s International Army Games and host 6 competitions of the Games designed for the army and the air force. It was also reported that part of the competitions would be carried out in Xinjiang of China. Could you please tell us more on the Games?

Answer: After consultations between China and Russia, China will participate in the International Army Games 2017 hosted by Russia and part of the competitions of the Games will be held in China. For the specifics, we will release information in due time along with the development of the preparation work.

What needs to be pointed out is that the Chinese military has participated in the International Army Games for three consecutive times in recent years. The participation in the Games plays an active role in strengthening the friendship and exchanges in the field of military training between Chinese military and other participating countries’ militaries including Russia’s, and is conducive to improving the combat capability of the Chinese military. This good momentum of military-to-military exchanges will be maintained by China’s holding relevant competitions of the Games. It also demonstrates the high level of the China-Russia military exchanges and cooperation.

Question: According to US officials, China’s construction of over twenty facilities on the man-made islands and reefs in the South China Sea has almost been completed. These structures may be used to install ground-to-air missiles. What is your response to this?

The second question is that the Lotte Group of the ROK is said to plan to hold a council meeting at the end of February to formally agree to sign a land-swap deal with the ROK’s government for the deployment of the THAAD system. It is commented that if this deal is completed, the ROK’s pace of deploying the THAAD system will be further accelerated. Did the Chinese side communicate with the ROK side on such issue?

Answer: On the first question, China has indisputable sovereignty over relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters. China has the right to deploy necessary defensive facilities on its territory in accordance with security requirement. It is the legitimate right of a sovereign state.

The nature of the second question is also about the deployment of the THAAD system in the ROK by the US and the ROK. China’s position on this issue has been consistent and clear. China is resolutely opposed to such a deployment. It sabotages the strategic security interests of the surrounding countries including China and Russia, and also breaks the strategic equilibrium in the region. We are resolutely opposed to it.

Question: There were reports that the US was intending to sell the THAAD system to Taiwan. Recently, Taiwan’s military denied those reports. Experts from the mainland commented that if Taiwan deployed the THAAD system, it would create a condition for the mainland to unify the country by force. What is your comment?

Answer: The spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council has already answered the question. It needs to be emphasized that the Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and touches our core interests. We are firmly opposed to any official or military contact between the US and Taiwan.

Question: What kind of measures will China take to stop the deployment of the THAAD system in the ROK? What will be the effect of those measures?

Answer: Our position on the deployment of the THAAD system in the ROK by the US and the ROK is clear and consistent. We are resolutely opposed to the move by the US and the ROK. The Chinese military will take necessary measures to safeguard national security.

Question: Recent media reports said that the amphibious troops of the PLA Army had been turned into Marine Corps of the PLA Navy. Could you please confirm? If it’s true, does it mean that the PLA Navy’s Marine Corps will be expanded in the future? As we know, the US Marine Corps is an independent service. Will China follow the way of the US?

Secondly, this year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA. China held a grand military parade two years ago to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory in the War of Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Is there a possibility that China will hold a military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA? Do you have any information to provide?

Answer: On the first question, as we all know, the Central Military Commission convened the conference on the reform of the size, structure and composition of the armed forces at the end of last year. Relevant reform measures are being pressing ahead according to plan and we’ll release more information in due time.

As for the construction of the services and arms, the Chinese military always, proceeding from the national security requirements, strengthens the construction of all the arms and services and enhances their capabilities in safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.

On the second question, military parade is an important component of the national ceremonial system. I have no information to offer on when the next military parade will be held.

Question: It is reported that since the ROK is pressing ahead with the plan to deploy the THAAD system, the military relationship between China and the ROK has now been totally suspended. Could you please confirm? Secondly, what are this year’s programs regarding high-level mutual visits and military training between China and the US?

Answer: On the first question: China attaches great importance to developing military relationship with the ROK and is willing to carry out exchanges and cooperation in defense field with the ROK side on the basis of respecting each other’s security interests. China’s position on the deployment of THAAD system has been consistent and will not change. We urge the ROK side to cherish the achievements made in bilateral military relations, deal with issues concerning China’s strategic security interests in a prudent way by proceeding from the overall interests of the two peoples and regional peace and stability, so as to create a positive atmosphere for the smooth development of bilateral military relations.

On the second question, China attaches importance to China-US military relationship. In recent years, both sides have made substantial achievements in the exchanges of high-level visits, institutionalized dialogues and joint training and exercises. We hope that the US side can work with the Chinese side to push forward the sustainable, healthy and stable development of China-US military relationship. As to the specific exchange programs between the two militaries this year, they are still under consultation between the two sides.

Question: It is said that the USS Carrier Battle Group Carl Vinson will take part in the largest ever joint military exercise with the ROK in March after patrolling the South China Sea. Does the Chinese military have communicated with its US counterpart on the US-ROK joint military exercise? Will the USS Carrier Battle Group Carl Vinson enter the Yellow Sea of China during the joint exercise? What is China’s stance on the US-ROK joint military exercise?

Secondly, it was reported that the South China Sea Fleet carried out training in the East Indian Ocean. Certain countries are very sensitive to such activities of the PLA Navy in the Indian Ocean. What’s your opinion on the PLA Navy’s training in the East Indian Ocean?

Answer: On the first question, we are aware of the activities of the USS Carrier Battle Group Carl Vinson in the South China Sea. What needs to be stressed is that the constant reinforcement of military deployment in the South China Sea by some countries outside the region goes against the endeavor of regional countries to seek peace and security, and it is not in the interests of the regional countries.

You mentioned that the USS Carrier Battle Group Carl Vinson will participate in the US-ROK joint military exercise, and we have noticed relevant reports.

Currently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is extremely complex and sensitive. Any large-scale and provocative military exercise will only intensify confrontation and sabotage regional peace and stability.

China consistently adheres to the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the realization of denuclearization, and the settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation. Relevant parties should keep restraint, and do more for regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite.

On the second question, the exercise you mentioned has been covered by the media. This was a counter-terrorism and counter-hijacking exercise conducted by the far-sea training taskforce of the South China Sea Fleet. The scenario was that civilian cargo ships were hijacked by pirates in the East Indian Ocean, and the Chinese naval taskforce launched a counter-hijacking escort mission.

As we all know, China has been conducting regular escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia since 2008. Until now, the Chinese side has sent 25 batches of escort taskforces, escorted over 6,300 ships, half of which are of foreign origin or belong to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The counter-terrorism and counter-hijacking exercise organized by the South China Sea Fleet is conducive to enhancing the capability of troops in carrying out international escort and counter-piracy missions.

Question: According to reports, China’s second aircraft carrier will use the steam catapult to launch its ship-borne aircraft rather than the electromagnetic catapult that has been speculated long before. Could you please confirm?

Answer: I don’t have any new information to offer on the details of the construction of China’s aircraft carrier.

Question: There are only 10 months left for the military to fulfill its task of downsizing the armed forces by 300,000. Will this task be fulfilled on schedule?

Secondly, US media reported that during the annual conference of the US Navy held yesterday, the high-ranking military officers of the US claimed that the Third Fleet and the Seventh Fleet were ready to deal with possible emergencies taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, including in the South China Sea. What is your comment? Besides, some people from the US military said that the US military felt seriously threatened by China’s military strength which had been developing by leaps and bounds in recent years. Was this a reality or merely imagination from the US side?

Answer: On the first question, in 2015, President Xi Jinping announced during the commemoration activity of the 70th anniversary marking the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War that China would downsize its military by 300,000. This task is been conducted in a step-by-step manner and, in accordance the our plan, it will be basically completed by the end of 2017.

On the second question, we have also taken notice of relevant remarks by the US side. We have reiterated our position on the issue of the US naval ships’ activities in the South China Sea. At present, with the joint efforts of China and other countries surrounding the South China Sea, the situation in the South China Sea is generally peaceful and stable. Countries outside the region should not intentionally hype up the so-called threat of war or create tensions. What they should do is to contribute positive energy to the peace and stability in the South China Sea.

In recent years, China has made some new achievements in national defense and military development. China firmly adheres to a defensive national defense policy and a military strategy of active defense and is committed to maintaining global and regional peace and stability. We are never afraid of threats from other countries and we will never threaten other countries.

Question: Recent reports said that the PLA had kicked off a pilot application of the military personnel logistic support tag or the logistics support ID in certain units. What is the purpose of introducing the logistics support tag to the military and when will the logistics support ID system be introduced throughout the PLA?

Answer: In November of 2013, approved by the Central Military Commission, the design and production of the logistics support tag were initiated and after a small-scaled pilot program in some units of the PLA Army, a large-scale pilot program has been carried out in thirteen units of various types under the Navy, the Air Force and the Rocket Force. This is a concrete step taken by the PLA to speed up its development in line with international standards and accelerate the construction of the large logistics support system.

For the next, relevant departments of the CMC will collect and analyze the data of the pilot program, strengthen their efforts to make further optimization and improvement in a bid to lay a solid foundation for the introduction of the military personnel logistics support tag to the whole Chinese military.

Question: There have been reports about China’s military forces patrolling inside eastern Afghanistan. Could you please confirm and brief us on relevant details?

Answer18: My colleague has already responded to this question before. According to the information provided by relevant departments, the law-enforcement departments of China and Afghanistan, in accordance with the agreement of strengthening border law enforcement cooperation between the two sides, have been conducting joint law enforcement operations in areas bordering both countries in recent years, in order to jointly prevent and fight against terrorism activities and organized transnational crimes.

I’d like to point out that the report of some foreign media that the Chinese military vehicles entered Afghanistan for patrol is untrue.

Question: It is reported that the US and the ROK militaries have certain plans in the scenario of the collapse of the DPRK’s regime, especially, in dealing with the DPRK’s nuclear weapons. Does the Chinese military have similar plans based on such scenario? Is China willing to negotiate with the US side on this issue?

Answer: China’s position on the Korean Peninsula issue is consistent. China adheres to the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the realization of denuclearization, and the settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation.

Currently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is extremely complex and sensitive. Relevant parties should avoid taking any action that might escalate the tensions, but make joint efforts to maintain the peace and stability in the region.

Question: You’ve just mentioned the Chinese counter-terrorism forces that were patrolling in Afghanistan? Were some of them from the military or were they all public security forces?

Answer: I have clarified the report that the Chinese military patrolled in Afghanistan is false. The law enforcement authorities of the two sides have conducted joint law enforcement operations in border areas to fight against terrorism in accordance with relevant law enforcement cooperation agreement between the two countries.

Question: China’s state media reports that China is revising its maritime traffic safety law which requires underwater vehicles including foreign submarines to abide by relevant regulations when entering Chinese territorial waters by such maneuvers as traveling in surface and raising national flag. And if the report is true, how would China enforce this?

Answer: I do not have any information on this topic. I’ll try to find out after the conference and we can have further exchanges afterwards.

Question: The Civil-Military Integration Committee was established at central government level. Currently, local governments and enterprises have paid great attention to the civil-military integration. Will China promulgate relevant policies and measures to promote further development of civil-military integration?

Answer: The civil-military integration is an important strategy adopted by the Party Central Committee. The Chinese military will fulfill relevant missions according to the overall arrangement of the Party’s Central Committee.

 

 

Editor :  Zhang Tao