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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on June 30

( Source: China Military Online  )         2016-June-30 22:27

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 June 30, 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.)

Colonel Wu Qian:

Good afternoon, friends from the press, welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense on this hot summer day.

Today I would like to start by making two pieces of announcement:

The first is about the 7th Xiangshan Forum. The 7th Xiangshan Forum, co-hosted by Chinese Association for Military Science and the China Institute for International Strategic Studies, will be held in Beijing from Oct. 10 to 12. The hosts will send invitations to defense and military leaders, representatives of international organizations, former government and military dignitaries, and renowned academics and scholars, to take part in this forum. The theme of this year’s forum is to Strengthen Security Dialogue and Cooperation, and Build a New Type of International Relations. Delegates will exchange views on such issues as the military’s role in global governance, meeting new security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region by taking cooperative measures, maritime security cooperation, the threat of international terrorism and countermeasures. The Chinese side hopes that this forum will be conducive for all participants to strengthening mutual trust, accumulating consensus, promoting regional security cooperation, and jointly maintaining regional peace and stability. We also welcome both domestic and foreign journalists to cover the event.

The second piece of announcement is about the new service and dress uniform of the PLA Rocket Force. As approved by the Central Military Commission (CMC), the PLA Rocket Force will issue new dress and service uniform starting from July 1. The dress and service uniform issued this time belongs to the Type-07 military uniform family, maintaining the same style, pattern, and material while making changes to the colors of the uniform. The main color of the new dress and service uniform is dark green, the shirt and long sleeve and short sleeve jackets are Khaki, and the floss of male and female caps and ties are dark green.

The colors of the newly issued dress and service uniform for the PLA Rocket Force are more service specific. Dark green is the color for the main Rocket Force weaponry and equipment, with green as the classical color of the Chinese military uniform, and Khaki is the color of the missile ignition flame, which is also the classical color for international military uniforms. Besides, the color mix is more balanced and innovative. The old rocket force uniform, which is the same as the army uniform, that are still in storage will be issued to the PLA Army to avoid waste.

It’s better to see once than to hear for a hundred times. Now I would like to show you the new pictures of uniforms. The first picture is short sleeve summer service uniform , picture 2 is the service uniform for spring and autumn, while the third is the winter service uniform, the fourth picture is the dress uniform for the Rocket Force, and the fifth picture is the overcoat.

If you need, you can download the pictures at the Ministry of National Defense website, you may also come to your own judgment as to whether they are handsome or not.

Question: The RIM of the Pacific 2016 joint exercise will kick off soon. The Pentagon says that the exercise is an opportunity for all participants to establish and maintain cooperative relations, which is important for protecting sea lanes of communication and maritime security. What is your comment and could you please brief us on the latest progress on the Chinese side’s participation in the joint exercise?

Answer:China attaches importance to the participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2016 joint exercise. We think that participating in the joint exercise is conducive for the PLA Navy to improving its capability to deal with nontraditional security threats, and strengthening professional exchanges and cooperation with navies of other countries.

We have learned that the PLA Navy 153 task group has arrived in Hawaii on June 29, local time. In the next phase, the PLA Navy ships will take part in the harbor phase activities, such as coordination conference, field expedition operation training, submarine rescue tabletop exercise, legal seminar as well as cultural and athletic events. Starting from July 12, the 153 task group will sail for the Hawaii coastal waters to take part in the sea phase of the exercise in accordance with the plan. We will offer more information when it is available.

Question: Recently in south China, many places have been struck by floods and tornado. Could you please brief us on the armed forces’ participation in disaster relief operations?

Answer:Since the raining season started this year, China has experienced 21 rounds of strong precipitations, the highest number in the past five years during the same period. In the southern, eastern, middle and southwestern parts of China, flooding and geological hazards occurred in some localities, triggering damaged roads, landslides, broken levees and collapsed houses, which have caused huge losses of lives and properties. At the request of local governments of the disaster-stricken localities, as of June 29, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Armed Police Force (APF) have dispatched 8,515 troops, mobilized nearly 10,000 militiamen and reservists, 7 ships, 2 helicopters, 80 plus steamboats, 646 vehicles and engineering machinery to engage in disaster relief operations. The armed forces have saved 16 lives, evacuated nearly 10,000 injured civilians and transported more than 2000 tons of relief material.

In particular, after the tornado and hailstorm disaster in Yancheng City of Jiangsu Province, the PLA and APF mobilized 4,652 troops, 4,200 militiamen and 397 pieces of equipment and machinery for the disaster relief operations. The armed forces have evacuated 703 injured people, cleaned more than 2,980 damaged houses, transported more than 22,600 pieces of food and material weighing 1,750 tons, cleared up 370 tons of rubbish, rush repaired 137.5 km of roads, and set up 1432 tents. By now, 1090 soldiers of the PLA and the APF with 65 pieces of equipment and machinery are still engaged in the disaster relief operations on site.

Question: The international tribunal in the Hague announced yesterday that it would make its decision on July 12 about the arbitration case lodged by the Philippines on the South China Sea issue. The wide expectation is that the court would rule in favor of the Philippines. If it happens, how would the Chinese military guarantee the defense of the Chinese territory? And will the Chinese military consider declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea?

Answer:On the issue of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines on the South China Sea issue, we have expressed on many occasions our policy stance of not accepting and not participating. It is our consistent position that relevant disputes should be resolved peacefully through bilateral negotiations between parties directly concerned. China will not accept any third-party settlement mechanism,nor will China accept any settlement that is forced on China.

On the ADIZ, we have reiterated many times that it is within the sovereign rights of a country to establish the ADIZ. As to whether or when to establish such a zone, it depends on whether China is facing security threats from the air, and the level of the threat.

Question: US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter expressed, on many occasions such as the Shangri-La Dialogue, concerns over China’s behavior in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in the South China Sea, claiming that China is building “a Great Wall of self-isolation” and proposing to build “a principled security network”, what is your comment?

Answer:We have taken notice of the remarks on China by the US Secretary of Defense.

All those who have read about Chinese history know that the Great Wall symbolizes the spirit of defense, and it is used to fend off the invaders rather than the envoys of friendship or free trade.

On isolation, China unswervingly pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and a policy features amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness toward its neighbors. China’s friends are all over the world. On the issue of South China Sea, more and more countries have publicly expressed their support for China’s position. People will come to a fair judgment on the merits of an issue itself, and an individual country can not represent the whole international community. If someone wants to smear China by accusing China of “self-isolation”, they are doomed to fail.

On the issue of principle, I have no idea as to whether the US side is referring to widely accepted international norms or the “principles” that suits the US taste only.

As we all know, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has taken effect for more than 20 years. The US has not approved the convention while forcefully conducting the so-called freedom of navigation operations, provoking and posing threats to many littoral countries.

This type of “Principle” is a manifestation of the US hegemony, and a security network based on such a principle can be nothing but exclusive, which goes against international norms, and which we are resolutely opposed to.

Question: The DPRK claimed to have successfully launched a Musudan medium-range missile on June 22. What is your comment? Does the increasing capability of the DPRK in nuclear development threaten China’s security?

Answer:Right now, the situation of the Korean Peninsula is complex and sensitive. Relative parties should refrain from taking actions that may further escalate the tense situation and should jointly safeguard regional peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Question: A commentary published in the People’s Daily said on Monday that China has the ability to remove a Philippine navy vessel grounded in one of the Nansha Islands. The reef’s name in Chinese is Renai. My question is: will the PLA remove this vessel if the Permanent Court of Arbitration decides to back Philippines’ point of view on the South China Sea issue?

Answer:China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including the Renai Reef, and their adjacent waters. The Chinese military has the will and capability to safeguard the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the country.

Question: According to Freedom Times of Taiwan, the Taiwan military has announced a plan to build 12 naval ships and the timing is from 2018 to 2040 with a total budget of 470 billion New Taiwan dollars or about 15 billion US dollars. What is the comment from the mainland?

Answer:To recognize the 1992 Consensus and maintain peaceful development of cross-strait relations is conducive to peace and stability cross the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan independence secessionist forces and their activities are the gravest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan side should do more to improve and develop cross-strait relations.

Question: Recently, a news report from the PLA Daily said that a motorized infantry brigade of the 1st Group Army under the PLA Eastern Theatre Command has been reformed and upgraded to a new rapid-response combat force with wings. It is commented by Hong Kong media that this is aiming at deterring the “Taiwan independence” forces. What is your comment?

Answer:It is a sacred mission for the Chinese PLA to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. To report on the efforts to strengthen the national defense and armed forces building is quite a normal phenomenon.

Question: In early June, the Chinese peacekeeping unit in Mali was struck by a terrorist attack, resulting in one death and many injuries. After the terrorist attack, what kind of measures did the Chinese side take to ensure the security of its peacekeeping forces abroad?

Answer:On June 1, Beijing time, a terrorist attack hit the Gao barracks of the UN Multinational Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, killing Shen Liangliang, a Chinese non-commissioned officer ( NCO ), and wounding several other Chinese peacekeepers. Since the attack occurred, the Chinese side immediately coordinated with relevant UN organs and the Mali government, requesting all measures be taken to ensure the safety of the Chinese peacekeeping forces.

At the same time, the Chinese peacekeeping unit in Mali has closely monitored the local security situation, consolidated its defense facilities, raised the alert level, and conducted safety drills so as to improve the capacity in dealing with emergency. In addition, relevant organs of the PLA conducted a thorough review of the security threat to Chinese military forces conducting operations abroad. Based on the result of the review, orders were given to improve the layout of the barracks and the deployment of garrison units, to consolidate the protection facilities, to strengthen the capacity of rapid response contingents, and to conduct more counter-terrorism training, so as to beef up security protection of Chinese peacekeeping forces and improve rapid response capacity.

The hero has passed away, but his spirit remains. Shen Liangliang died at his sentry post, giving his life to the course of safeguarding world peace. He is our comrade in arms, and also a hero among us. No matter how far he goes, our hearts are always with him. No matter what difficulties and dangers lie ahead, the will of the Chinese armed forces to maintain world peace is as solid as rocks.

Question: On the 25 this month, President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin signed 3 joint declarations including one on strengthening global strategic stability. In this joint declaration, the deployment of the Aegis ashore missile defense system in Eastern Europe and the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in Northeast Asia were directly criticized. My question is that whether China and Russia will put the declaration into actual practice by taking military actions or military deployment. What new progress will be made in the China-Russia military cooperation after this joint declaration was signed?

Answer:The mil-to-mil relationship is an important component of the bilateral relationship between China and Russia and demonstrates the high level of strategic mutual trust and coordination between the two countries. Currently, the mil-to-mil cooperation between the two sides maintains a good momentum of healthy development. Mutually beneficial cooperation has been carried out in many areas.

On the THAAD issue that you have mentioned, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin signed a joint declaration on strengthening global strategic stability in Beijing on June 25. It has given a very clear statement on this issue.

Question: It is reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense Information Management Bureau said recently that teams from Egypt, Kazakhstan, Venezuela and China would take part in the international military competition of Masters of Armored Vehicles. Please brief us on this issue.

Answer:From July 30th to August 13th , the PLA will send a team to take part in the International Army Games 2016 co-hosted by Russia and Kazakhstan. In total, the PLA army, navy and air force will send 1,070 officers and soldiers, 154 pieces of vehicles and equipment, 1 frigate and 2 JH-7A fighter-bombers.

We have learned that the competition includes such events as Tank Biathlon, Sovorov Attack, Masters of Armored Vehicles, Sea Cup and AviaDarts.

Question: Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the 16th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Staterecently. How do you comment on the defense cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and when will this year’s SCO joint exercise be held?

Answer:Defense and security cooperation is an important pillar of the SCO. For more than a decade, defense and security cooperation within the SCO has developed by leaps and bounds. Such institutionalized cooperation mechanisms among the SCO member states as the defense ministers’ meeting, the chiefs of general staff’s meeting, the Peace Mission joint counter-terrorism exercise as well as the Peace Horn military band festival have been established and extensive interactions have been carried out in the areas of personnel training, border defense, hydro-meteorology research and other professional fields. Defense and security cooperation has enhanced the unity of the SCO member states, strengthened military and security mutual trust and boosted their capability of jointly meeting new challenges and threats, and has played a positive role in maintaining regional peace and stability.

The armed forces of the SCO member states regularly hold joint counter-terrorism exercises which have become an important component of the SCO defense and security cooperation. In accordance with the agreement made during the 2015 St. Petersburg SCO Defense Ministers’ Meeting, the armed forces of the SCO member states will conduct a joint counter-terrorism exercise in Kyrghyzstan in September this year. Relevant parties have conducted three rounds of expert consultations and have reached initial agreement upon the exercise plan. According to the initial plan, the army and air Force troops of the SCO member states will take part in the exercise with a total participating force of about 1,100 officers and soldiers.

Question: According to recent media reports, China’s first independently-developed strategic transport aircraft Y-20 is going to be equipped to the troops. What kind of impact will it have on the PLA Air Force?

Answer:I find that you are quite interested in the PLA’s weaponry and equipment development. On the specific information about a certain equipment, the relevant department of the Chinese military will release information in due time.

Question: You have mentioned that China is opposed to the United States’ hegemonism in the disguise of the so-called freedom of navigation operations. But, right now, three US naval Aegis-class vessels are cruising in the South China Sea. Is the Chinese military aware of such activities of the US side? And it is commented that such activities by the US are to put pressure on China with the arbitration case on the South China Sea issue. What is your comment?

The second question, it is reported recently on the Internet that there will be another salary rise for the PLA service members. After the pay rise, a regiment-level officer will receive RMB 20,000 per month and a division-level officer will receive RMB 30,000 per month. Is that true? Would you please give us a picture of the PLA’s salary rise since China’s 18th National Party Congress? Is it keeping in pace with China’s social and economic development?

The third question. Japan’s government recently said that China should launch the China-Japan Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism as early as possible. What is the latest progress for establishing this mechanism? What is the real obstacle that prevents the relevant agreement from being signed?

Answer:Of course, we are well aware of the frequent activities of the US ships and planes in the South China Sea. Such activities by the US are meant to make a show of force and to weaken the determination and will of China to protect national sovereignty and security. It is an act of militarization in the South China Sea and it endangers regional peace and stability. But I’d like to say that the US side is making the wrong calculation. The Chinese armed forces never gives in to outside forces. If it is our territory, we will definitely safeguard it. If it is not ours, we will not ask for it. The will and capability of China to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity are very firm.

Salary rise of the Chinese service members always depends on the social and economic development of the country, the need for military building, and the relevant national policies. It keeps in pace with the salary increase of the civilians. The recent pay rise plan mentioned by some media on the Internet isn’t correct.

To establish the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism between the two defense establishments is a consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries. Its objective is to strengthen communication, manage crises, avoid misjudgment and prevent unintended incidents.

The Chinese side attaches great importance to establishing the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism. We hope the Japanese side can remove relevant obstacles in the negotiation and work toward the same direction with the Chinese side so as to launch the mechanism as early as possible.

Question: China and Russia issued a declaration, stressing that the two countries are not allies and officially admitting the two countries’ close relationship. The Chinese and Russian militaries’ ships appeared in the waters near the Diaoyu Island together. Is it a sign of close relationship? China and Russia have been conducting joint maritime exercises since 2012. What is the plan for this year as to the joint maritime exercise? Tomorrow is July 1 and also the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. The relationship between the mainland and Hong Kong has attracted extensive attention abroad. How’s the relationship between the Hong Kong citizens and PLA garrison stationed in Hong Kong?

Answer:The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are inherently Chinese territory and it is reasonable and legitimate for Chinese vessels to sail near the waters of its own territory. Other parties have no right to point fingers at such activities. China and Russia have maintained comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination and the two sides have kept routine communication in related fields.

On the maritime joint exercise between China and Russia, both sides are conducting coordination and consultation on this matter. We will offer more information in due time.

For a long period of time, the PLA garrison in Hong Kong has strictly abided by the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Garrison Law. They have seriously performed defense responsibilities and actively safeguarded Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability. By conducting various activities such as the barrack open day, student summer camp, voluntary tree planting and blood donation, they have deepened the contact with the Hong Kong citizens. In the future, the officers and soldiers in the Hong Kong garrison will continue to be stationed in Hong Kong and love Hong Kong and continue to strengthen exchanges and communication with Hong Kong society.

Tomorrow is July 1, which marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China(CPC). Here, I would like to convey birthday greetings to her. At the same time, tomorrow is the 50th anniversary marking the founding of China’s strategic missile force. We hope that this force, which is acclaimed as the long sword and weighty treasure of the country, can make greater contributions to safeguarding national sovereignty and security.

Here concludes today’s press conference. Thank you!

Editor :  Zhang Tao