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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on Dec.31

( Source: MOD  )         2015-December-31 21:49

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 December 31, 2015.( 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:

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

I will start by making an announcement.

This morning, the China-Vietnam and the China-ROK Defense Telephone Links (DTL) have been officially opened. Gen. Chang Wanquan, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, held the 1st telephone conversation with Phung Quang Thanh, Member of the Political Bureau of the Vietnam Communist Party, Vice Secretary of the CMC and Minister of Defense, and Han Min Koo, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Korea respectively.

During the telephone conversation with Phung Quang Thanh, Chang Wanquan, on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, congratulated the official opening of the China-Vietnam DTL, and sent New Year’s greetings to Phung Quang Thanh and officers and men of the Vietnamese armed forces.

Gen. Chang said that in 2015, President Xi Jinping and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong exchanged successful visits, and bilateral relations witnessed a good momentum of development.

It is in the interest of both sides to strengthen solidarity and deepen cooperation between the two countries and two armed forces. China attaches importance to defense exchanges and cooperation with Vietnam and is willing to make joint efforts with the Vietnamese side to implement the consensus reached between the general secretaries of the two Parties by putting them into concrete practices, properly deal with differences, and gain new achievements in mil-to-mil relations in the new year.

Phung Quang Thanh congratulated the opening of the China-Vietnam DTL, sent New Year’s greetings to the officers and men of the Chinese armed forces on behalf of the officers and men of the Vietnamese armed forces.

Phung Quang Thanh applauded the positive achievements made in the mil-to-mil relations, and said that the Vietnamese side was willing to cooperate closely with the Chinese side to expand the depth and width of mil-to-mil relationship, so as to bring benefit to the people of the two countries.

During the telephone conversation with Han Min Koo, Chang Wanquan, on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, congratulated the opening of the China-ROK DTL, and sent New Year’s greetings to Han Min Koo and the Korean people.

Gen. Chang said that the Chinese side was happy to see that China-ROK relations in various fields had witnessed comprehensive development in recent years, and bilateral cooperation had continued to deepen. The Chinese side will continue to implement the consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Park Geun-hye, strengthen mil-to-mil exchange and cooperation, push forward sustained development of mil-to-mil relationship, and jointly maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Han Min Koo congratulated the opening of the ROK-China DTL, and sent New Year’s greetings to Minister Chang Wanquan and officers and men of the PLA on behalf of the ROK Defense Ministry.

Han Min Koo spoke highly of the smooth development of bilateral and mil-to-mil relationship between the two countries, and expressed his willingness to take the opening of the DTL as an opportunity to continue strengthening interactions and mutual trust with the Chinese side, so as to make joint efforts to promote the deepening of bilateral and mil-to-mil relations and maintain regional peace and stability.

Q: According to media reports, the Finance Ministry disclosed that the reform of defining administrative power and financial responsibility between the central and local authorities will start next year, with such reform in national defense taking the lead. Please brief us on this issue.

A:According to decisions made during the 18th National Party Congress as well as the decisions made during the 3rd, fourth and fifth Plenary Sessions of the 18th National Party Congress on establishing a mechanism which balances administrative power and financial responsibility, relevant department of the state is conducting research on the reform of defining administrative power and financial responsibility between the central and local authorities.

The delegation of administrative power in national defense is relatively clear and well regulated. However, there are still problems in the allocation of administrative power and financial responsibility which are not well-adapted to the evolving situation.

It is learned that relevant department of the state will launch the reform in defining administrative power and financial responsibility in national defense in 2016. The reform will further clarify administrative power and financial responsibility of various governmental levels in national defense . It will be conducive to the sound and rapid development of national defense and armed forces modernization as well as to the in-depth development of civil-military integration.

Q: According to Sankei Shimbun of Japan, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Navy will hold a joint exercise during February 2016 in South China Sea. It is also said that Australia may be invited to join the exercise. What is your comment?

The Counter-terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China will come into force starting from Jan. 1, 2016. In this law, it is stipulated that after getting approval, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese Armed Police Force (APF) can be sent to conduct counter-terrorism operations abroad. Does this indicate that in the future China will send its armed forces abroad to perform counter-terrorism operations?

A: On the 1st question, We have noticed relevant reports and we will keep close attention on this matter. It is our consistent position that military and security cooperation between countries should not compromise peace and stability in the region.

Terrorism is the common enemy of the international community. China has always been opposed to terrorism in all forms and has taken an active part in international counter-terrorism cooperation. In such cooperation, China has always observed the norms governing international relationship, adhered to the principle of equality and mutual benefit, and respected the will of and strengthened the consultation and coordination with relevant countries.

The counter-terrorism law makes clear stipulation on conducting overseas counter-terrorism operation by the PLA and the APF, which is in line with the responsibilities of the Chinese armed forces stipulated in the Chinese Constitution and the National Security Law.

For the PLA and the APF to perform counter-terrorism operations abroad, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the norms governing international relations must be observed and the sovereignty of the country concerned must also be respected. As to whether the PLA and the APF will be sent abroad for counter-terrorism missions, it depends on the overall arrangement of the state.

Q: I have a question about the recent U.S. weapon sales to Taiwan. The Chinese government was very angry with the new weapon sales to Taiwan by the United States. But the Taiwanese government says that China aims more than a thousand missiles at Taiwan, and, therefore, it needs to defend itself. Why doesn’t China withdraw these missiles aiming at Taiwan if it really wants to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait?

A:China’s position of promoting peaceful development of cross-strait relations has been consistent and clear. I would like to stress that China is firmly opposed to arms sale to Taiwan by any country.

Q: The maritime and air liaison mechanism between China and Japan has not been launched so far. Why so and how can both sides overcome the differences? Secondly, could you please tell us the tasks and responsibilities of the new theater commands that are going to be established in the military reform?

A:On your 1st question, to establish the maritime and air liaison mechanism between the two defense departments of China and Japan is the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries. It is conducive for the two sides to strengthening communication, properly managing differences and avoiding misjudgment and unexpected events.

China attaches great importance to the establishment of the liaison mechanism and has maintained communication and coordination with the Japanese side. Currently, both sides have largely reached consensus on issues concerning the establishment of the liaison mechanism, and China will make efforts to push Japan to walk toward each other so as to launch the mechanism as soon as possible.

On your second question, relevant work on deepening reform of national defense and armed forces has started in an all-round way, and we will release information at a proper time.

Q: On the 10th this month, the B-52 bomber of the U.S. flew to the proximity of the airspace of Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea. It is the U.S. media that first disclosed the incident several days later and then the Chinese spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense made a statement. Why didn't the Chinese side publicize the incident first and take necessary measures? According to an overseas media report, the Political Commissar of the General Logistics Department of the PLA General Liu Yuan has recently retired, could you please confirm?

A: On your first question, the incident that you have mentioned has indeed attracted wide attention among the public and the Chinese response to this incident was also closely watched.

After the incident took place, the Chinese troops stationed on the relevant islands and reefs took resolute measures against the provocative actions of the U.S military aircraft at the earliest possible time and China also lodged solemn representations with the American side through diplomatic channels immediately.

Afterwards, the U.S. informed the Chinese side of the result of their review of the incident. They said that the U.S. military aircraft's maneuver was unintentional and was not in accordance with the flight standards of the U.S. military. The U.S. DOD and PACOM will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

On your second question, Liu Yuan, political commissar of the General Logistics Department of the PLA, has served as a Military Area Command level officer for ten years already.

Upon the approval of President Xi and the Central Military Commission and in accordance with the Law of People's Republic of China on Officers in Active Service and officers appointment and removal regulation, he has retired from the leadership position.

Q: China has announced that it will build a logistics hub in the African nation of Djibouti in order to support its units on United Nations’ anti-pirate missions in the region. How many PLA personnel will be stationed there? What facilities will the base have? Is China planning to build similar facilities elsewhere?

A:Through friendly consultation, China and Djibouti have come to an agreement for the Chinese side to build logistics support facilities in Djibouti.

The support facilities will mainly be used by the Chinese military for its officers and men as well as ships to recuperate and have replenishment during anti-pirate missions in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters and during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Both sides regard the building of the support facilities as being conducive for China and Djibouti to strengthening practical cooperation between the two countries and the two armed forces, as well as for China to better performing its international obligations and maintain international and regional peace and stability.

Q: The year of 2015 has witnessed frequent bilateral interactions between the Chinese and Indian militaries with exchange of visits by many delegations and meetings. Not long ago, the general officer commanding in chief (GOC-in-C) of the Indian Army's Northern Command visited China and, prior to his visit, his predecessor couldn’t get a visa. What is the outcome of his visit? Are there any military exercises planned along the line of actual control between the two militaries to improve relations?

A:At the invitation of the Chinese side, D.S. Hooda, general officer commanding in chief (GOC-in-C) of the Indian Army's Northern Command, led a border defense delegation to visit China from Dec. 14 to 20. Qi Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA, and Liu Yuejun, commander of PLA’s Lanzhou Military Area Command (MAC), met and held talks with Hooda. The delegation also visited the air defense brigade of the 47th Group Army of the Lanzhou MAC and the Second Military Medical University.

During the visit, both sides exchanged views on strengthening friendly interactions between neighboring military commands, and among officers and soldiers of the border defense troops of the two sides. Both sides agreed that the armed forces of China and India, border defense troops in particular, should treat each other with sincerity, strengthen communication, deal with differences properly, and deepen cooperation, so as to ensure peace and tranquility in the border region, and bring benefit to the people of the two countries.

Also I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the situation in the China-India border area. This year, the two militaries have strengthened border defense contacts and through institutionalized channels in the border area, the border defense troops of the two countries conducted effective communication and properly solved divergences. In general, the situation along the China-India border has been stable. The Chinese side is ready to work with the Indian side to implement the important consensus reached by the two governments and relevant agreements and protocols, so as to jointly maintain peace and stability in the border region.

Q: It is reported that Zhang Yan, commander of the PLA 26th Group Army, recently had a drinking session with two of his former subordinates, who were currently serving in the PLA 39th Group Army. The drinking session has resulted in the death of one person. As a result, relevant individuals were severely punished for this case. Zhang Yan was removed from his position and demoted from group army level to deputy group army level. What is your comment?

A:This is a typical case of not behaving and breaching disciplines after the 18th National Party Congress. To punish the individuals concerned according to discipline and regulation is a demonstration of the clear-cut stance on enforcing strict discipline within the military and among the senior officers. That is also a demonstration of the strong resolve to uphold the authority of discipline and maintain a fine work style within the military. The decision is supported wholeheartedly by all the officers and soldiers.

Senior military officers and Party members must voluntarily set good examples in implementing the Party Central Committee’ s eight regulations and the Central Military Commission’s ten regulations, and refrain from violating discipline. Whoever breaches Party and military disciplines will be investigated and held accountable in accordance with relevant regulations.

Q: Returning to the issue of Taiwan arms sales. At the time the Chinese government and defense ministry said that the Chinese side planed to retaliate against companies that were involved in the technology being transferred to Taiwan. Can you give us details on what sort of sanctions have been taken? What companies have been sanctioned and anything else? Thank you.

A:The Ministry of Foreign Affair and the Ministry of National Defense of China both issued statement, expressing China’s solemn stance on the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

As to the details of the question that you have raised, please refer to relevant authorities of the government.

Q: The Japanese Ministry of Defense said on the 26th of the this month that a Chinese naval reconnaissance ship sailed very close to the Bōsō Peninsula of Chiba Prefecture of Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Defense commented that it was not usual for Chinese naval ship to do such things and the Japanese side paid close attention to it. Japanese media also reported earlier that Chinese military warships had sailed very close to the Diaoyu Islands. What's your comment?

It is commented that the Counter-terrorism Law will give the opportunity to the Chinese armed forces to conduct overseas actual combat. What is your comment?

A:The navigation of the Chinese naval ships in waters out of the territorial sea of other countries is in line with relevant international law and international practice. China respects the rights and interests enjoyed by relevant littoral states in accordance with international law. We also hope that relevant parties can respect China's rights of freedom of navigation and over-flight.

As to your question about the Diaoyu Islands, I think our position on this issue has been clear, consistent, and well-known to all.

On the question on Counter-terrorism Law, I have already answered a similar question.

Q: According to media reports, the second aircraft carrier of China is being built. Could you please confirm and share with us more information? The second question is on the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier. What progress has been made during its scientific test and training? You yourself said before that the aircraft carrier was not a homeboy and, one day, it will sail into the far seas. My question is that, in 2016, is there any plan for the Liaoning aircraft carrier to conduct training in far seas?

A:On the 1st question, China always adheres to the path of peaceful development, and firmly upholds an independent foreign policy of peace and a defensive national defense policy. We have a long coast line and a vast maritime area under jurisdiction. To safeguard maritime security, sovereignty, and interests and rights is the sacred mission of the Chinese armed forces. We all know that Liaoning is the 1st aircraft carrier of China. Taking various factors into consideration, relevant authority started the research and development of China’s second aircraft carrier, which is currently under independent design and construction.

Since the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier was commissioned, it has been conducting scientific test and military training in accordance with plan. As to what kind of training it will conduct in the next step, it depends on the needs of the tasks.

Q: Could you please share with us more information of the basic technological and tactical capabilities of the second aircraft carrier as well as the weapons and equipment that will be installed?

A:As far as I know, the second aircraft carrier is designed independently by China and is being built in Dalian. It has a conventional power plant with a displacement of 50,000 tons. It will carry J-15 fighter jets and other ship-based aircraft, and the fixed-wing aircraft on-board will adopt ski-jump take-off mode. Various types of equipment will be installed to meet the needs of fulfilling its missions.

The design and construction of the second aircraft carrier, having drawn on a lot of useful experience from the scientific tests and training of the first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, will have new improvements in many aspects. In the future, we’ll continue to offer relevant information.

Q: According to the U.S. media, China for the first time has started using its nuclear submarines for maritime patrol, which will enable China to have the second nuclear strike capability. What is your comment?

A: I think the report by foreign media is purely media hype.

Q: How’s the building of China’s second aircraft carrier going? What is the timetable for building this aircraft carrier and when will it be commissioned? It was reported that China would build the third aircraft carrier. Do you have any information to share?

A:The second aircraft carrier is currently at the stage of design and construction. As to future work, it depends on the progress in its design and construction. As to the long-term development of China’s aircraft carriers, relevant authorities will take various factors into consideration in making decisions.

Q: According to a media report, the U.S. intelligence department recently detected that China had launched a DF-41 missile from a train on Chinese railway. Could you please confirm it?

A:Scientific tests within the Chinese territory are conducted according to plan.

Q: From January 1 next year, the two-child policy will be fully implemented among the Chinese population. So do you expect that more talented people will be enrolled into the military to serve the national defense? And, secondly, could you please tell us more about the important exercises and conferences that the Chinese armed forces are planning for next year?

A16: Actually the two-child policy is not a military-related question, but I’d like to stress here that whether it be one-child policy or two-child policy, the military always wants to attract the best kids to join us.

On your second question, the year of 2015 will end soon. In this year, the armed forces acted upon the orders of President Xi and the Central Military Commission, pushed forward modernization in national defense and armed forces development and conducted work in preparing for military struggle. And relevant work has achieved good results. For the year 2016, we are still face daunting tasks. As for the major exercises and major conferences, I do not have information to offer here.

According to the normal practice, the regular conference of the Ministry of National Defense will be suspended in January next year. If you have any questions, you can contact us through telephone or fax. We will respond as soon as possible.

In the year 2015, the public and friends from the media have rendered us valuable care and support, and your attention gives us the strength to improve our work. On behalf of the Information Office of the MND and our team, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to you, and wish you a happy new year and all the best.

At this moment, from the northern frontier to the western desert, from the snowy mountains to remote islands, many of our comrades-in-arms are on duty in sentry posts, even more commrades are also working in their own posts like us. It is their dedication and sacrifice that has ensured a tranquil and happy life for all of our compatriots. Today, the National Defense Ministry Release micro-blog and we-chat platform published a group of photos featuring frontier defense officers and soldiers on patrol duty in the freezing cold, so as to convey our festive greetings to our fellow comrades-in-arms. Let’s join together to cheer them on and pray for our motherland.

Here concludes today’s press conference and see you next year.

Editor :  Dong Zhaohui