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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on April 28

( Source: MOD  )         2016-April-28 22:06

Colonel Wu Qian, 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 April 28, 2016. ( Aiming)
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)

Dear friends from the press, good afternoon!

Welcome to this month’s MND regular press conference on such a bright and beautiful spring day. I would like to start with an announcement about the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-terrorism Exercise.

According to the Work Plan of the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Maritime Security and Counter-terrorism, the ADMM-Plus Maritime Security and Counter-terrorism Exercise will be held from May 2 to 12 in Brunei and Singapore as well as in the waters between the two countries.

The subjects of the exercise will include joint training, navigation in formation, escort, maritime search, helicopters landing on each other’s ships, counterterrorism, etc.

The Chinese military will send the DDG Lanzhou, 12 special force members and 4 staff officers to participate in the exercise.

The exercise is the first Maritime Security and Counterterrorism Exercise under the ADMM-Plus framework, it will help the militaries of the ADMM-Plus countries to learn from each other and deepen practical cooperation in the defense and security fields.

Now, the floor is open for questions.

Question: According to media reports, the U.S. military is about to carry out a new round of “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea. But the reports did not disclose the specific dates and whether it would sail within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese islands and reefs. However, what can be confirmed is that this will be the third time that the U.S. military comes to the waters of the Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea since last October. Please comment on that.

Answer: The U.S. side likes playing the concept of “freedom of navigation” and branding itself as a country who is most concerned about world peace. But the fact is that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem. On the contrary, it is the so-called “freedom of navigation” operations of the U.S. that have plunged the situation in the South China Sea into disorder, undermined regional stability and harmed the security interests of littoral states. “Freedom of navigation” has become an excuse for the U.S. to interfere in the disputes in the South China Sea.

We think that the so-called “freedom of navigation” operations of the U.S. side pose political and military provocations towards China and those operations can easily lead to incidents both in the air and at sea, and they are very dangerous. Therefore, We will continue to follow closely the situation in the air and at sea, and take all necessary measures accordingly.

Question: China Daily reported that, in the Honghe Prefecture of Yunnan Province, three young men recruited in military service tried to avoid military service with different reasons, because they were afraid of the hardship and discipline in the military. They were punished as a result. And previously there was also information saying that in order to avoid military service, some young people in Yunnan Province did some so-called self designs. For example, before the medical examination, they had their ears pierced, or had their bodies tattooed, which were forbidden in the military, and during the psychological test, they intentionally made mistakes so as to achieve the purpose of not being recruited by the military. Please comment on that.

Answer: It is a fine tradition of the Chinese nation to love and support the military and to serve the country. In China, we have a large population of young people at qualified age for military service and they are very active in joining the military. In recent years, the overall situation of conscription each year is pretty good, in particular, the percentage taken by university and college graduates in the newly recruited soldiers has remarkably increased, marking an improvement of the overall quality of the newly recruited soldiers.

However, we have also noticed that in some places, there are indeed a very small number of young people who tried to avoid military service by wrong means. Relevant departments will deal with such cases according to laws and regulations like the Military Service Law and Regulations on Recruitment of Soldiers. Here, I’d like to tell these young people that the meaning of youth not just lies in living an unrestrained and comfortable life at present, but also in taking the responsibility for your home and country and in protecting its frontiers.

Question: Indian defense minister was here recently, and he held discussions with several top officials including the Defense Minister of China. A wide range of discussions have taken place between the two countries. Can you highlight what are the main decisions or what is the outcome? Both sides have high expectations over the establishment of frontier defense hot lines between the two militaries. Could you please elaborate?

Answer: At the invitation of Gen. Chang Wanquan, state councilor and minister of national defense of China, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar visited China from April 16 to 20.

During his visit, he called on Premier Li Keqiang, Gen. Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, and held talks with Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan. And the two sides exchanged views on the wide range of issues including the relations between the two countries and the two armed forces, the cooperation in the defense field, the exchanges in the border regions, the management and control of the border situation as well as regional and international issues of common concern.

The two sides have reached the agreement that the peaceful co-existence and enhanced cooperation between China and India would not only benefit the two countries but also contribute to economic development of Asia and the world at large, and it would send a positive signal for peaceful development to the rest of the world. The two sides have also agreed to enhance strategic communication and to further deepen the exchange and pragmatic cooperation in various fields, enhance mutual understanding and the integration of interest, so as to maintain common interests of both sides.

Both sides should actively make efforts to push forward the establishment of a military hotline for border defense cooperation between the two militaries and to enhance exchanges between their border troops, work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas, so as to create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the development of bilateral relations.

This visit by Indian Defense Minister to China is a great boost to the bilateral relations, especially, to the relations between the two armed forces.

About the military hotline for border defense cooperation you have just mentioned, the Chinese side has always maintained an active attitude towards establishing such a hotline. So far, the competent departments of the two militaries are studying this matter, and are trying to reach agreement on relevant arrangement as soon as possible, so as to enrich border defense exchange and cooperation between the two sides.

Question: On 24th this month, the DPRK announced a successful test-fire of the submarine-launched ballistic missile(SLBM). But according to the analysis from the ROK military, the range of the tested missile had not reached 300km, so it should be considered a failure. How does the Chinese Ministry of National Defense comment on this test-fire by DPRK?

This week, the Japanese Foreign Minister will visit China since the last visit of this kind four and half years ago. He will meet with leaders of China. Will his visit help to promote China-Japan defense exchanges? What expectations does the MND have on the improvement of China-Japan defense relations?

Answer: As for your first question, I think the spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already stated China’s position.

As for your second question, I’d like to talk about the defense relations between China and Japan. The defense relations between China and Japan is an important and sensitive component of our state-to-state relations. Since last year, the two sides have gradually resumed defense exchanges. The Chinese side hopes that the two sides continue to carry out exchanges and corporation to enhance mutual understanding, and manage and control contradictions and differences through dialogue and communications, so as to create favorable conditions for the continued improvement of bilateral relations.

For the details of the visit by the Japanese Foreign Minister, please refer to the Foreign Ministry.

Question: Two questions from AFP. The first is that the spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, your colleague, said last month that China would participate in the final planning conference of “RIMPAC 2016” in early April. Can you officially confirm whether China would take part in the joint exercise? My second question is about the DF-41 ballistic missile. Do you have more information about the development of the ballistic missile? What will be its precise range and do you think that this missile can break the U.S. anti-missile system? Thank you!

Answer: As for your first question, at the invitation of the U.S. side, the Chinese side sent a working team to San Diego, U.S. to attend the final planning conference for “RIMPAC 2016” from April 5th to 8th. During the conference, the two sides communicated on various aspects of the exercise such as subjects, different phases of the exercise, logistic support, etc. and identified the relevant arrangements such as the subjects to be participated by the Chinese side, schedule, logistics support, etc.. With regard to the detailed arrangement for the Chinese side, we will release information in due time.

And we have released information about China’s participation in “RIMPAC 2016”. I suggest that you refer to Weibo and We-chat and also the website of the MND.

As for you second question, it is related to classified military information, so I cannot provide more information.

Question: Recently, China and the Republic of Korea have conducted cooperation on returning the remains of the martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army in the Korean War to China by the ROK. So far, how many remains of the martyrs have been returned to China by the ROK? Will there be any further measures in this regard?

Answer: With the importance attached by the state leaders of both China and the ROK and their joint efforts, in consecutively three years from 2014 to 2016, the ROK side has altogether returned the remains of 541 martyrs of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. They have all been buried in the Korean War Martyrs Cemetery in Shenyang.

According to the consensus between the two countries, every year, the handover is conducted before the Qingming Festival, known in China as the Tomb Sweeping Festival. China and the ROK will continue to carry out such handover. Here, I’d like to say that no matter how far the heroes have gone, our hearts always stay with them.

Question: On April 27, an U.S. congressman proposed to the U.S. Government that the U.S. military navigate in the South China Sea more frequently, from once a quarter to once a week. His argument behind the proposal is that China tries to control the entire South China Sea. He gave some details like China had built airports, ports and radar stations in the South China Sea region. Please comment on that.

Recently, General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of the CMC, paid an inspection visit to the islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands. This is seen by the outside as a response to the U.S. remarks and actions in the South China Sea region. Does it mean an aggravation of the dispute between China and U.S. in the South China Sea region?

Answer: I would like to answer your second question first, the one about the visit by Gen. Fan Changlong to the islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands. This is a normal arrangement made according to the progress of the construction on the islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands.

About your first question, that reminds me of my work experience in the Chinese embassy to Washington several years ago. I was told by U.S. colleagues from the Pentagon that it is not necessary to care too much about the remarks by the U.S. congressmen, because most of the time they are just voicing their personal opinions, and sometimes not very reasonable.

Actually, I didn’t plan to talk about this topic today, but since you have already brought it up, I would like to say something.

Generally speaking, this can be summarized as three “NOTs”. First, no matter how many and how frequently the U.S. ships come to the South China Sea, that would NOT change the fact that the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters belong to China; second, it would NOT stop the pace for China’s development and growth; third, it would NOT shake the resolution and will of the Chinese PLA to firmly safeguard the sovereignty and security of China.

Question: It was reported that, in recent days, a Chinese naval patrol aircraft conducting patrol mission over the South China Sea made an emergent flight to the Nansha Islands, landed at the airport on Yongshu Jiao, and transported 3 seriously-sick workers to a hospital in Sanya for treatment. Please tell us the follow-up development of the case. Have the conditions of the sick workers improved?

Answer: On April 17, a Y-8 patrol aircraft of the PLA Navy conducting patrol mission over the South China Sea responded to the emergence and transported the 3 sick workers, i.e. Li Wanmei, Nie Yandong and Yu Chunlong, from the Yongshu Jiao airport to No. 425 Hospital of the PLA Navy in Sanya for treatment. By now, the 2 patients in relatively mild conditions have been discharged from hospital, and the one who was seriously sick is now out of danger.

A popular sentence is doing the rounds on the Internet nowadays---“The small ship of friendship can easily capsize”. Here I want to stress that when your life is in danger, the big ship, that is your motherland, will be there to protect you, my fellow citizens.

Question: It was reported recently that later this year China would conduct land reclamation and island building projects on Huangyan Dao in the South China Sea. Does China have a plan for conducting construction on Huangyan Dao? In recent days, the enrollment plan for the PLA educational institutes for 2016 was released and the number of enrollment for cadets in military institutes as well as the defense-oriented students in civilian universities and colleges both decreased greatly. Please comment on this change. What is the progress of the supporting facilities China is now constructing in Djibouti, which is to be used for navigation escort, peace-keeping and humanitarian assistance purposes? And when will the escorting ships of the navy be able to dock there?

Answer: As for your first question, I am not aware of the report you mentioned. They might be the hyper-up of some media. But I’d like to say that Huangyan Dao is an inherent territory of China and China has the right to take measures to deal with various kinds of threats and safeguard the sovereignty and security of China.

As for your second question, the planned number of enrollment for the institutes of the PLA as well as the People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF) this year downsized as compared with that in 2015. However, in the distribution of the enrollment number, priority was given to new combat elements and urgently needed majors. The scale of the enrollment this year was decided according to the PLA’s demand in 2016 as well as the training plans of various institutes, and also taking into consideration of the actual conditions of the on-going military restructuring and reform, as well as other factors.

Compared with the previous year, the number of enrolled officer-to-be students has decreased while the number of enrolled NCO-to-be students has increased. The enrollment number of the traditional elements of the Army has decreased by 24 percent and the number of enrollment on logistics subjects has decreased by 45 percent. On the other hand,. The enrollment number of subjects related to new combat elements, such as naval ships, aviation, and missiles, as well as the urgently needed subjects such as aerospace intelligence processing, radar and UAVs, has increased by 14 percent and 16 percent respectively.

As for your third question, as far as I know, the construction of the supporting facilities in Djibouti is going on smoothly. We’ll release further information in due time.

Question: Has there been deployment of military facilities on the Huangyan Dao? Recently, President Xi Jinping inspected the Joint Operations Command Center of the Central Military Commission (CMC). Is the CMC’s Joint Operations Command Center the sole organ which has the authority to use China’s nuclear weapons? Does it include elements from the Army, Navy, Air Force, the Rocket Force, the Strategic Support Force and the People’s Armed Police Force?

Answer: I’ve already answered the question on the Huangyan Dao, so I will not repeat here. On the second question, I think you are mainly interested in the joint operations command system. In the current reform, the efforts put into the improvement of the joint operations command system and are aimed at meeting the requirements of winning the informationized warfare and effectively fulfilling the PLA’s missions and tasks, setting up the joint operations command organs at theatre command level, improving the joint operations command organ of the CMC, so as to build perfect, lean and effective command systems at both strategic and tactical levels. Improving the CMC’s joint operations command center is an important part of the efforts to deepen national defense and military reform and an important measure to strengthen the strategic command function of the CMC.

As for the question about the use of nuclear weapons, I suggest you refer to previously-published defense white papers.

Editor :  Zhang Tao