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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on Sep. 25, 2014

( Source: MOD  )         2014-September-25 22:08


Geng Yansheng, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on September 25, 2014. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)

(The following English text of press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)

Spokesman Geng Yansheng:

  Friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to the press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of this month.

  Now I’d like to start by making two announcements.

  Announcement 1: According to the UN resolution 2155 on bolstering the strength and extending the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan, at the invitation of the UN and approved by the State Council and the CMC, the Chinese military will send a 700-personnel infantry battalion to undertake peace keeping missions in South Sudan. As requested by the UN, the infantry battalion is equipped with light weapons for self defense, armored personnel carriers, and such protection equipment as bullet proof vests and helmets. Their mandate is to protect civilians, UN employees and humanitarian workers, and to perform patrol and security duties, as well as defense and protection. Specific timing for deployment, mission area, and list of equipment are yet to be finalized upon consultation with the UN.

  Announcement 2: According to the annual exchange plan between the two militaries, China and the U.S. have agreed to hold the 15th defense consultative talk in mid-October in the United States. Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff HQs of the PLA, will lead a delegation to Washington and co-host the defense consultative talk with Ms Wormuth, the Under Secretary of Defense of the U.S. Department of Defense. During the defense consultative talk, strategic planning departments of the two militaries will hold a dialogue for the first time.

  Question: In your announcement, you said that China will send an infantry battalion to South Sudan for peacekeeping missions. It was commented in the media that China is sending this infantry battalion in order to protect the interests of Chinese citizens and Chinese enterprises in South Sudan. What is your comment?

  Answer: The Chinese government, acting upon the official invitation of the United Nations, is to send a peacekeeping infantry battalion to South Sudan. The mandate is to carry out peacekeeping missions. The United Nations’ Security Council resolution authorizes the United Nations' Mission in South Sudan to take the protection of civilians, UN employees and humanitarian workers as its main task. The Chinese peacekeeping troops will strictly abide by the international law and stick to their mandate. They will provide protection to the local people and other countries' personnel engaged in such peaceful activities as humanitarian assistance and economic development in the area to the best of their ability. And their actions will be taken as required by the situation, or upon the instruction from the headquarters of the mission, and they will also follow the rules of engagement. They will play a constructive role in maintaining peace and stability in South Sudan and the region.

  Question:It was reported that in early September, General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), met with the visiting US President’s National Security Advisor Rice. During the meeting, both sides discussed the issues of setting up the Mutual Notification Mechanism of Major Military Activities and formulating the Rules of Behavior for Military Safety in the Air and Maritime Domains at High Seas. What kind of progress has been made between the two militaries in terms of the two confidence-building mechanisms mentioned above? What differences are still there to be overcome?

  Anwser: Last June, the heads of state of the two countries met and reached an agreement on setting up the Mutual Notification Mechanism of Major Military Activities and formulating the Rules of Behavior for Military Safety in the Air and Maritime Domains at High Seas. Since then, the defense departments of the two countries have put lots of efforts into implementing the important agreement reached by the leaders of the two countries and achieved positive results.

  In early September, General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the CMC, held meetings with Ms. Rice, the US President’s national security advisor. The two sides agreed that the two confidence-building mechanisms were very important for enhancing the strategic and mutual trust of the two countries and relevant work should be done at a faster pace so that substantial progress can be made. Currently, both sides are making joint efforts towards this goal.

  Question: I’m from PTI (Press Trust of India). You are aware there is a stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for the past three weeks or so, a little ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India. There are hectic efforts between the two countries to resolve this stand-off. Has there been any progress in the dialogue to resolve it? Has the pull-back from both sides started?

  And there is also an apprehension or perhaps a perception of India that these incidents of stand-off happening coinciding with the visits of high dignitaries from China especially. We’ve seen one happening with Premier Li Keqiang’s visit last year, and now again with President Xi Jiping’s visit. Is there a kind of pattern to this? That is what? It is better for the PLA or the Ministry of National Defense to clarify this?

  And thirdly, we had the border defense agreement last year which is supposed to prevent this kind of incidents. Doesn’t this particular stand-off point that it has failed to deliver on the ground to prevent this kind of irritants?

  Answer: Recently, President Xi Jinping paid a successful visit to India. During the visit, both sides issued a joint statement on building closer partnership for development. The two sides agreed that maintaining peace and stability in China-India border region is an important factor for further development and continued growth of bilateral relations between both countries.

  It was reiterated that before the final settlement of the border issue, the two countries will jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border region. As everybody knows, the China-India border is not yet demarcated. It is quite natural for some incidents to happen along the China-India border. But this kind of incidents will not change the overall situation of good-neighbourliness and friendliness between China and India.

  For the incidents in China-Indian border region, there are channels of smooth communication that are functioning quite well. The problems can be solved through dialogue and consultation. Both sides should manage the situation and maintain the peace and stability in the area.

  To the recent incidents, both sides communicated with each other through the existing channels. The situation is currently under effective control. And the China-India border is peaceful.

  Just now you also mentioned the border defense cooperation agreement signed between China and India. This agreement is of great significance for consolidating and improving the friendship and mutual trust between the two countries as well as effectively maintaining the peace and stability along the China-India border.

  In this agreement, a lot of things are clearly regulated, such as the content of border defense cooperation, the working mechanisms, the channels for communication, the exchanges between the two border defense troops, and the methods to effectively manage and control the border disputes.

  Of the contents written in the agreement, some of them have already been put into practice, while others are being implemented or in the process of being implemented. For example, when there is a stand-off between the two border defense troops, both sides should keep maximum restraint and both sides should conduct flag meetings in certain places along the line of actual control.

  Currently, it is just because that both sides are acting in accordance with the spirit of the border defense cooperation agreement and other agreements that the incidents have been taken under effective control and the China-India border region remains peaceful. This again demonstrates the necessity and effectiveness of the border defense cooperation agreement and other agreements signed by the two countries.

  I’d like to emphasize again that because the China-India border is not demarcated yet, it is sometimes inevitable that incidents happen. What’s more important is for both sides to implement relevant agreements signed by the two countries, boost mutual understanding and mutual trust, and make joint efforts to maintain peace and stability in China-India border region.

  Question: Recently, the high-level consultation on maritime affairs between China and Japan was held in Qingdao, China. What consensus has been reached in the consultation? It was said that the maritime liaison mechanism between the two militaries was discussed and relevant talks might be resumed in the near future. Is the Chinese Defense Ministry willing to actively promote the establishment of the maritime liaison mechanism? And is there any possibility for this maritime liaison mechanism to be resumed before the end of this year?

  Answer: To set up a Sino-Japanese maritime liaison mechanism was a consensus reached by leaders of both countries and the two defense ministries. The mechanism will help avoid accidents at sea and in the air which may occur as a result of misjudgment, and increase mutual trust in defense and security. During the recent high-level consultation on maritime affairs, both sides agreed to resume relevant dialogue concerning the establishment of the maritime liaison mechanism between the two defense ministries, and the resuming work is yet to be decided by both sides. Here I would like to stress that it is necessary for Japan to face up to the problems existing between the two countries and take concrete measures to create conditions for future development of the Sino-Japanese relationship.

  Question: Recently, the issue of military training for college students is a hot topic in the domestic media and among the public. It is reported that the students were physically punished during military training in the Taizhou College of the Nanjing Normal University and the Northwest University of Politics and Law. Netizens comment that there are so many problems in military training for college students and that reform of the military training system is required. What is your comment?

  Answer: To conduct military training for students is required by the National Defense Education Law and the Conscription Law. Experiments started in 1985. By 2001, all universities, colleges and senior middle schools throughout the country gave military training to their students. Through the military training, the national defense and national security awareness of students are strengthened, their mental and physical strength is tested and their sense of discipline, responsibility and collective spirit are improved. Therefore, the society, the schools and the parents approve of the military training for students. Facts have shown that military training for students is a positive thing for the country, for the people and for the military.

  Currently, there are more than 2000 universities and colleges and more than 22,000 senior middle schools in China that give military training to their students. In recent years, more than 15 million students from colleges, universities and senior middle schools receive military training annually. The subjects of the training are mainly military theory and skills in accordance with regulations of the Ministry of Education, PLA General Staff Headquarters (GSH) and PLA General Political Department (GPD). In general, military training for students achieved satisfactory results.

  However, it is true that innovations and improvements of the work related to providing military training to students are needed. Recently, there are media reports which reviewed or unveiled the problems in the work related to military training of students. We think that these problems are separate and individual cases. To these cases, relevant competent civilian and military authorities will conduct investigations and handle them in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.

  Acting upon a recent notice issued by the PLA Office of Military Training for Students, the units responsible for providing military training for students have further improved the work related to the selections of instructors, moral education and their supervision, so as to do a better job in providing military training for students.

  Question: The “Hanguang – 30” exercise was held in Taiwan recently, and the leader of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou went to inspect the troops. There was one element in this year’s exercise that is different from that of previous years: military vessels were sent to the waters near the Yonaguni-jima Island of Japan. The scenario of the operation assumed that Japan conducts joint defense in the island. And this has raised a lot of attentions within Taiwan because it had never been included in the previous exercises. People said that this element in the exercise, which was against Japan, shows that Taiwan’s defense action is going the same way as that of the mainland. Of course, there are some different views from the public. What’s your comment on this issue?

  For the second question, the Islamic State has become more and more rampant in the Middle East. What are the Chinese military’s position and view on the issue of suppression on the Islamic State? And is there any possibility that the Chinese PLA will participate in any other activities to strike the Islamic State?

  Answer: For your first question, we have paid attention to relevant reports and we will not comment on this issue.

  For the second question, terrorism is the common enemy of human kind. China firmly opposes and cracks down on any form of terrorism and is willing to carry out international exchange and cooperation on counter-terrorism with concerned parties, so as to commonly maintain peace and stability in the Middle East and the rest regions of the world. The Chinese military shoulders the responsibility of counter-terrorism and we will do the relevant work in accordance with the overall arrangement of the state.

  Question: At the end of August, the PLA Air Force announced that a reconnaissance-and-strike unmanned aerial vehicle had been deployed during the "Peace Mission-2014 " joint exercise. In mid September, the Sea Harrier series of UAVs were unveiled on the Fifth UAV Conference and Exhibition. Please brief us on the status quo and development of the UAVs of the People's Liberation Army.

  Answer: UAV technology is one of the key technologies impacting future wars. The development of the drones has become one of the priorities for countries in the world in developing their new-type operational force. And the use of UAVs has already been witnessed in the recent local wars. The unmanned aerial vehicle is also an important component of the Chinese air force. Its development in China is currently at the initial stage and is smoothly pressing ahead according to the general plan for national defense and armed forces development. In the future, the PLA will continue to increase input into the development of UAVs which will play a more and more important role in China's joint operational system.

  Question: In recent days, China’s construction in the Nansha Islands has attracted a lot of media coverage and some media speculated that China is making preparation for designating an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea. Does China have this kind of consideration?

  During the Meeting of the Chief of Staff of the PLA held not long ago, President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, said that a new type of command and staff headquarter should be built. Does it mean that there has been already a timetable for the reform of the Chinese military?

  Answer: China has sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters. To carry out necessary constructions and facility maintenance on the islands garrisoned by China is to better safeguard the national sovereignty and territorial integrity, protect maritime rights and provide protection for the peaceful labor of the people. This is the legitimate right of China as a sovereign country. In the same way, whether to set up an air defense identification zone and where and when to set it up is also the legitimate right of China as a sovereign country.

  The Chiefs of Staff Meeting of the PLA held not long ago has been extensively covered by the media. On the issue of the reform of the Chinese military, relevant departments are conducting feasibility studies and are still doing research. I hope that there will not be too many speculations on this issue.

  Question: During last month’s press conference of the Ministry of National Defense, the spokesperson announced that the 5th Xiangshan Forum will be held in Beijing in late November. South Korean media recently reported that the Chinese military has invited defense leaders of South Korea, the DPRK, and Japan to take part in this year’s Xiangshan Forum, in an effort to make it an important regional security forum similar to the Shangri-la Dialogue. What is your comment? How is the preparation for the Xiangshan Forum going on?

  Answer: In recent years, multilateral security dialogue and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region is becoming more and more active. The SCO, the ADMM+, the ARF, and the CICA (Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia), and other official mechanisms have been set up, while the Shangri-la Dialogue, the JIDD (Jakarta International Defense Dialogue) are maturing. Under such background, the Chinese Association of Military Science is upgrading its Xiangshan Forum, which has been held for many years, from a track II to a track 1.5 high-end security and defense forum to be participated by defense leaders of Asia-Pacific countries, chiefs of some international organizations, and retired military and government dignitaries, as well as renowned scholars. The focus of the forum will be security and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. It is hoped that such upgrading will promote dialogue and exchange between China and other regional countries, deepen mutual trust in security, promote practical cooperation, and jointly maintain peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

  Not long ago, the Chinese Association of Military Science has sent out invitations to the leaders of defense departments and armed forces of many countries, and the chiefs of several international organizations. Some countries have already responded positively to the invitation. The forum is still at the process of preparation.

  Question: Recently, the public service ships from the Mainland and Taiwan worked together to rescue fishermen in relevant waters near the Diaoyu Islands. Do you think that this kind of cooperation is conducive to military cooperation between the Mainland and Taiwan in the future?

  Answer: Not long ago, ships from both sides of the Taiwan Straits rescued fishermen from the Mainland. This shows us the blood ties between the Mainland and Taiwan.

  Question: India media reported on Sep. 24 that China called on a flag meeting to be held between the two sides to resolve the border disputes that happened recently. But the Indian side requested that China should withdraw its troops back to the position where they were at the beginning of September. In your previous statement, you said that the situation in China-India border areas is under control now. Does this mean that China has agreed to the request made by India and will withdraw the PLA troops from the point of conflict?

  My second question is that Russia and the United States are conducting negotiation on amending the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. American media reported that the Dongfeng-21 missile and other missiles deployed by China broke the strategic balance between the U.S. and Russia in relevant fields and called for China to join the INF Treaty as well. Otherwise, the U.S. should withdraw from the treaty. What is your comment?

  Answer: I’ve already answered your first question. Through the joint efforts of both sides, the incident that happened recently is under effective control. I hope that with continuous efforts of both sides, the problem can be solved as soon as possible.

  The treaty that you just mentioned, the so-called INF Treaty, the full name is the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-range and Shorter-range Missiles. The treaty was a bilateral arms control treaty signed by the U.S. and the USSR during the Cold War.

  In fact, the U.S. has a large nuclear arsenal and its nuclear missiles are far more than other countries that have nuclear weapons. The intermediate-range missiles only account for a very small proportion of its nuclear arsenal. The U.S. media is nearly hyping up this issue.

  China adopts a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. Our military development including the development of a certain number of missiles is to meet the needs for national security. It is not targeting any country or posing any threat to any country or region.

  Question: This year marks the second anniversary of the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier since it was commissioned to the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN). Over the past two years, the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier has gone through a series of scientific tests and military training. Is there a timetable for the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier to be fully operational?

  The Chinese and Iranian navies conducted a joint exercise in the Persian Gulf. Some media reports said that the area for exercise is quite sensitive since the exercise venue is opposite to the State of Bahrain, where a base of the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet is situated. What’s your comment on this?

  Answer: Two years ago, I attended the commission ceremony of the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier of the PLAN. As a Chinese military officer, I am so proud of the achievements the PLA has made in its modernization construction. Also, I am deeply aware of the responsibility that the Chinese soldiers of our generation should take. In the past two years, the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier has gone through a series of military training and scientific tests as planned. In the future, the “Liaoning” aircraft carrier will continue to carry out relevant activities.

  On your second question, the Chinese naval escort task forces usually pay goodwill visits to some countries after the completion of their escort missions in recent years. And they will conduct joint exercises and training with the navies of the host countries. According to the foreign exchange plan of the Chinese PLA in the year of 2014 and the PLA Navy escort forces rotation plan, the 17th Chinese naval escort task force visited Iran on its way back recently. During the visit, the Chinese Navy held the joint drill with the Iranian Navy on the subjects of the formation navigation and communications, etc. Besides, the deck reception and ship open days as well as other culture and sports activities were held. This visit, which ended yesterday, will boost mutual understanding and trust between the two militaries and consistently push forward the development of friendly mil-to-mil relations between China and Iran.

  Question: Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations of the US, visited China in July. He and Wu Shengli, Commander of the PLAN extended mutual invitation to visit aircraft carriers of the other side . Is there any further consultation on this? And secondly, since September, there have been a series of large-scale military exercises by the PLA. During these exercises, a number of new weaponry and equipment were unveiled. What purpose or consideration do you have for holding these exercises?

  Answer: I'll start by answering your second question. There are a number of large-scale exercises conducted by the PLA. But what I want to clarify is that these exercises are all routine exercises in the annual training plan. I hope that friends from the media will not over-interpret these exercises or over-stretch your imagination.

  Exchange of port calls is an important form of military exchange which is conducive to strengthening mutual understanding, trust and cooperation. On the specific issues of naval exchange, both sides still need to carry out consultation.

  Question: Recently, there were some media reports on the DF-2000 air defense missile and other weapons for export, which have attracted public attention. Could you brief us on the overall situation in China’s defense industrial trade or military export. In particular, the categories and scale of the main weapons China exports?

  Answer: I’d like to give you an answer to your questions. But defense industrial trade or arms export is not within the responsibility of the Chinese PLA. Please refer your question to the competent departments of the national defense industry.

  Question: According to some comments from foreign media, the space technology and aerospace technology of China are progressing by leaps and bounds. With the service life of the international space stations around the corner, China might become the only country in the world that has a permanent space station in the future. What’s your comment? And what kind of space weaponry and space technology will China have in the future?

  Answer:China always upholds the position of peaceful utilization of the outer space, and oppose the weaponization of outer space and the arms race in outer space. On the issue of China’s space technology, please refer to relevant department in charge.

  Question: The port calls conducted by the Chinese Navy ships to foreign countries remind me of a recent one by a Chinese Navy ship, a submarine actually, visiting Sri Lanka, marking the Chinese submarine’s debut in the Indian Ocean. Are the reports about the Chinese submarine’s visit to Sri Lanka true? And it is commented that the visit demonstrates that the Chinese Navy is developing its strength into the Indian Ocean. Is this true?

  Answer: A PLA Navy submarine is currently setting to the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia to join the PLA Navy escort task force in conducting escort mission, and on its way to the mission area, the PLA Navy submarine anchored at the Port of Colombo in Sri Lanka. What needs to be pointed out is that it is a common practice for navies of all countries to have their submarines and ships replenished at certain intervals at ports. The escort task force, as well as the submarine joining the escort mission, is the regular activity included in the PLA Navy’s annual program.

  After the press conference a reporter asked: whether the Chinese peacekeeping infantry battalion to South Sudan can be called “operational troops” or “pure combat troops? ”.

  Answer: This is not accurate. The peacekeeping infantry battalion, called security troops by the UN, is tasked to implement security and protection, rather than to carry out traditional combat tasks. The purpose of the UN peacekeeping operations is mainly to help relevant countries and people to restore and maintain peace and stability, prevent wars and supervise cease-fire. The UN peacekeeping troops will not get directly involved in the armed conflicts of the mission country.

Editor :  Zhang Tao