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Defense Ministry's regular press conference on August 28, 2014

( Source: MOD  )         2014-August-28 20:02

  Yang Yujun, 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 August 28, 2014.
(The following English text of press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)

Spokesman Yang Yujun:

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

  Question 1: I have two questions. The first is regarding Japan. The Defense Ministry of Japan has announced the military budget for the new fiscal year. And it emphasizes more on off-island defense compared to the previous years. It rises about 3.5 percent compared to the budget of last year which has reached a historical high. And from our observation, in this budget for 2015, Japan will spend more on purchasing advanced military equipments, such as F-35 fighter jets or Global Hawk UAV etc. What is your comment on that?

  And my second question regards the interception of the PLA aircraft to a U.S. patrol aircraft on the 19th. As we understand that the closest distance is only fifteen meters and the spokesperson from the U.S. DOD said the US side protested to China, blaming that the Chinese pilots have been aggressive and unprofessional. What is your comment? And is China considering establishing an ADIZ in South China Sea? Thank you!

  Answer: For your first question, I would like to quote a saying: The tragedy of history should not repeat itself, and we could choose our path for future development. So I believe that, for the Japanese side, it is important to draw lessons from history and adopt a development path that is peaceful, which we believe is conducive not only to the interest of Japan but also to the regional peace and stability.

  Well, the second question. I believe our spokesperson has expressed our position not long ago, but now I would like to make the additional comments.

  Just now, you mentioned the incident as a PLA aircraft’s interception incident. I don’t think that this expression of the so-called “interception incident” is even valid, since the nature of this incident is the frequent and close-in reconnaissance activities by the U.S. aircraft against China, so I think it should be rightly called “US aircraft close-in reconnaissance incident”.

  If we take a look at the map, we believe the story will be very clear. The location of the incident is 220 kilometers from the Hainan Island of China. It is not 220 kilometers from Hawaii of the United States, and certainly not 220 kilometers from Florida---the rights or wrongs of the case are very clear.

  You also mentioned that the U.S. side called the behavior and the operation of the Chinese pilots as aggressive and nonprofessional. I also noticed that the U.S. side described the operation of our pilots as “reckless and dangerous”.

  However the fact is that our pilot’s operation has been professional and due regard has been given to the safety issue. China is a developing country. Our aircraft are very precious and the lives of our pilots are even more precious. Compared with the countries which asked their pilots to fly around other country’s doorsteps, we cherish more the safety of our personnel and equipment.

  And what I need to underscore here is that the U.S. side has always been focusing on technical issues such as the distance between the aircraft during an encounter, but rather ignores the fact that the U.S. has been maintaining high frequency of close-in reconnaissance activities against China, which is a policy issue.

  For the long term, the U.S. military ships and aircraft have been conducting frequent and wide-ranged close-in reconnaissance activities against China, which not only damages China’s safety interest but also damages the strategic trust and bilateral relationship between China and the United States.

  And the high-frequency close-in reconnaissance activities conducted by the U.S. military against China are the very root cause which could possibly lead to undesirable incidents.

  On the one hand, US expressed their willingness to deepen a military-to-military relationship with China, but on the other hand, they are reluctant to give up these frequent close-in reconnaissance activities against China.

  The conclusion, I think, is not difficult to draw as to whether the U.S. behavior will help the mutual trust and cooperation between our two militaries. China has been attaching great importance to the development of military relationship with the United States.

  We believe that the U.S. side should step up to the strategic height of building a new-model China-U.S. major-country relationship and the new model of China-U.S. military-to-military relationship and take concrete measures to decrease the close-in reconnaissance activities against China towards a complete stop so that a favorable atmosphere for further developing our military-to-military relationship could be created and properly maintained.

  And I believe you asked a third question regarding the establishment of ADIZ by China in the South China Sea. China has the right, according to international laws and international customs, to establish an Air Defense Identification Zone.

  However, whether to establish such an ADIZ or when to establish such an ADIZ depend on the threat we face in the air and also on the assessment of the degree of the threat.

  Therefore, the answer to your question depends on a number of factors. What I need to underscore here is that China is confident of maintaining good relationship with the neighboring countries in the South China Sea as well as maintaining the overall peace and stability of the South China Sea.

  Question 2: There have been views that if the United States were not to stop its reconnaissance activities against China, China should do similar actions against the U.S. as countermeasures. What is your comment on these views?

  Answer: China has the freedom of navigation and fly-over that is in line with international laws. Activities of the PLA ships and aircraft consistently comply with international laws and practices and also give due regards to the security concern of coastal states. These activities are not in disputes. As to what missions of the PLA ships and aircraft will take in the future, it will be decided based on various factors.

  Question 3: Could you please give us an update on the discussions in Washington between China’s defense ministry and the U.S. Pentagon about the rules that in a way maybe China and U.S. can avoid competitions in the air and the sea?

  And could you please clarify how you define a close-in surveillance? How close to Chinese territory is a close-in surveillance? What does China consider to be an appropriate distance from its territory for the U.S. military flights to travel?

  Answer: For your first question, China and U.S. establishing the rules of behavior for air and sea military activities on the high sea is a consensus reached by the two presidents last year.

  In order to implement this presidential consensus, China and U.S. reached agreement this July that China will send a delegation to Washington from August 25 to 29 to participate in a working group consultation regarding the establishment of these rules of behavior.

  This visit has been a program within the yearly China-U.S. military-to-military engagement plan. The primary purpose of this visit is to implement the presidential consensus and push forward the establishment of China-U.S.’s rules of behavior for air and sea military activities on the high sea. As the working group consultation meeting is still in progress, I do not have updated information to release.

  For your second question, the close-in reconnaissance activities conducted by the U.S. military ships and aircraft, I would say that these activities have the following features, namely, wide in range, highly frequent and close in distance.

  In particular, when the PLA conducts weapon test, exercise and training in related airspace and maritime area, U.S. side often showed up without being invited or even broke in our exercise or training zones which have been announced in advance.

  These behaviors of U.S. military ships and aircraft could easily cause misperception and miscalculation or even air and sea accidents. Therefore, we do urge the U.S. side to decrease these close-in reconnaissance activities against China towards a complete stop.

  Question 4: My question is that in the Shangri-La Dialogue earlier this year, the PLA delegation expressed China’s willingness to continue bilateral and multilateral security dialogues with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and also welcomed senior defense officers and scholars from the region to participate in the Xiangshan Forum to be held in Beijing this year. Could you please brief us on the preparation of this forum?

  Answer: Since 2006, the China Military Science Society (CMSS) hosted the Xiangshan Forum every other year. So far it has been held 4 times, and has developed into an important forum for exchanges and interactions among defense experts and scholars in China and from other countries.

  In order to adapt to the new changes in Asia-Pacific security situation and new demand of security cooperation, this year’s 5th session will expand the scope of the participants invited.

  As the forum being upgraded from track 2 to track 1.5 senior-level security and defense forum, defense and military leaders of Asia-Pacific countries, directors of standing committees of related international organizations, former military- political VIPs and renowned scholars will be invited.

  The forum will send invitations to related countries for the heads of states or governments to deliver keynote speeches and senior officers from related countries will also speak publicly. The forum will focus on Asia-pacific security issues, but will also cover other major international security issues. Instead of being held every other year, the forum will be held annually from now on.

  The 5th session of this year’s forum will be held in Beijing from November 20th to November 22nd with the theme of “Cooperation and Win-win: To Build an Asian Community of Destiny”. The main subjects covered in the forum will include regional security architecture, maritime security, counter-terrorism cooperation, etc.

  Apart from keynote speeches from heads of the states or governments of related countries, Gen. Chang Wanquan, state councilor and minister of National Defense and MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) leaders from China will also make speeches. We welcome defense leaders and senior military officers and scholars from Asia-Pacific countries to participate in this session of the forum this year.

  Question 5: My question is still related to the air incident. You just mentioned that China urges the United States to stop its reconnaissance activities against China. However, according to the spokesperson of the US Department of State on August 25, the reconnaissance activities of the United States are operated in a transparent manner, and they make China aware of their plans.

  And she also mentioned that the United States did not want this incident to be the barrier in pushing forward the development of relations between China and the United States. What is your comment on that?

  Answer: The statement of the U.S. is not in accordance with what the fact is. There has not been any notification to the Chinese side on the close-in reconnaissance activities against China by the U.S. military ships and aircraft.

  And just as what I have stated, this behavior of the U.S. military ships and aircraft could possibly lead to undesirable incidents and will not be helpful to the mutual trust between the two militaries.

  If the United States truly wants this kind of incident not to affect the bilateral relations, I think the best way is to reduce such activities or completely stop such activities.

  What I need to underscore here is that if we are talking about a wrong behavior here, whether the manner of doing it be transparent or not, whether this behavior be notified to other countries in prior or not, will not be able to change its nature as being wrong.

  Question 6: I come from Asahi News. My question is that September 3 is the anniversary of the victory of the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Does the PLA have any plans for holding related commemorating activities? Could you please disclose related contents? Thank you!

  Answer: I do not hold valid information for the matter that is raised.

  Question 7: The summer vacation of the universities, colleges and middle schools is coming to an end. As we know that there has been a history of over thirty years that students in schools receive military training. How do you comment on the meaning of such training provided to in-school students?

  Answer: To provide military training to in-school students is the common practice of many countries. In China, students in colleges and universities, vocational high schools and common high schools are required to receive military training according to the regulations of the Conscription Law and the National Defense Education Law.

  It is important not only to the building of national defense reserve force and the raising of the national defense awareness of the trainees, but also help to enhance the personal physical quality of the trainees.  

  In the long run, the related departments in the country and also in the military attach great importance to the normalization and institutionalization of the in-school students’ military training.

  In recent years, the Ministry of Education, the General Staff Headquarters of the PLA and the General Political Department of the PLA have specifically and jointly promulgated a number of policy documents which provide specific regulations on in-school students training doctrines, guiding principles, organizations as well as implementations.

  We bear notice to the media reports of accidents involving in-school students in military training, and we send our most sincere solicitude to the students and families involved.

  After the recent incidents, the related departments of the PLA have adopted corresponding measures to demand that the related laws and regulations be further implemented, the instructors be better trained and managed and students’ military training be better administrated.

  Question 8: Officials of India and China yesterday held a meeting of working mechanism for consultation of issues relating to the border. I appreciate if you can brief us about the outcome of the meeting.

  And secondly, the establishment of widespread infrastructure along the India-China line of actual control (LAC), especially on the Chinese side, has often caused concerns in India. How the PLA looks at these extended infrastructures?

  How the PLA will react if India improves the infrastructure in Indian side along the border areas?And how will the PLA looks at those infrastructures on the Indian side?

  Answer: For your first question, yes, indeed, China and India held a consultation dealing with the border issues. According to information that I have, this meeting has been led by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Therefore I would point you to my colleagues at the MFA for details.

  For you second question, I have noticed you used the term “infrastructure projects”, the primary purpose of these projects is to develop the economy and to raise the living standard of the local people. It is our hope that this will not be over-interpreted by the Indian side.

  And it’s also our hope that the Indian side could work together with the Chinese side to seriously implement the consensus reached by our two governments and to jointly maintain the peace and tranquility of the border area.

  Question 9: Two PLA Y-8 aircraft flew over the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) claimed by Taiwan on August 25th and the two aircraft were intercepted by Taiwan aircraft. I do have two questions regarding this incident.

  The first is: what is the purpose of such a flight? Is it for taking a shortcut? Or is it for saving fuels? Or is it for testing the capability of Taiwan military for air surveillance?

  My second question is about the miscalculation and misperception that you just now mentioned. For reducing miscalculation and misperception, in the future missions or trainings, will the PLA aircraft take a route beyond the ADIZ that has been claimed by the Taiwan side?

  Answer: For your first question, I can confirm that on August 25th, the PLA aircraft conducted routine flight in related airspace. No abnormal situation occurred.

  For your second question, the flight route and airspace of the PLA aircrafts are determined by various factors, including their missions, the air situation, meteorological conditions, etc.

   Question10: What is your comment on the outcome of the “Peace Mission - 2014” joint anti-terrorism exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)member states?

  After the U.S. withdraws its troops from Afghanistan,will the SCO conduct counter-terrorism operations in the Central- Asia region?

  Answer: The “Peace Mission - 2014” joint anti-terrorism exercise is the 5th joint anti-terrorism military exercise conducted under the framework of the SCO.

  It is a major practical move taken to implement the consensus reached by the heads of states of the member states of the SCO, and to deepen the cooperation of the member states in defense and security areas.

  And the scale and degree of actual-combat of the exercise this year surpass that of the previous years.

  The early preparation ahead of the exercise has been very smooth, and the actual-troop joint exercise will be carried out tomorrow.

  We do believe that this joint exercise will play an important role in deterring the “three evil forces” and maintaining the regional peace and stability.

  I think your second question concerns security issues in Afghanistan. The issue of Afghanistan relates to the security and stability of the region.

  I hope that the efforts of the international community can help the peace, stability and prosperity of Afghanistan as well as promote enduring peace in the region.

  Question11: I come from the Global Times. I have two questions. The first is about the disarmament of the PLA. It is reported that the PLA will continue its disarmament process, cutting more than 800,000 personnel in order to push forward the defense and military modernization. Can you confirm this information?

  My second question is still related to the US close-in reconnaissance activities against China. Could you brief us about or update the recent situation of the intensified close-in reconnaissance activities conducted by the US military against China?

  Answer: I think the nature of your first question is the defense and military reform. National defense and military reform is a system engineering project. It needs unified design and should be carried out both proactively and steadily.

  Currently, related PLA departments are conducting study and verification on major issues relating to national defense and military reform.

  I need to point out that many comments on the plan of the reform are merely speculations. I hope they are not over-interpreted.

  And I believe that I have partly answered your second question. The reconnaissance activities conducted by the US military ships and aircraft cover a wide range and are highly frequent with very close distance. And it would be very easy for these activities to cause misperception and miscalculation, or even undesirable air and sea incidents.

  And for those intensified close-in reconnaissance activities, diplomatically, we have sincerely expressed our concerns and positions to the United States through multiple channels. And, operationally, we have been strictly monitoring these reconnaissance activities. According to different situations, we adopt different measures to make sure that we safeguard the air and sea security of our country.

  Question 12: Just now, you mentioned that Chinese side has conducted communication with the U.S. side diplomatically and expressed the Chinese position that we want the U.S. to reduce these activities to a complete stop. Has the U.S. responded with action by reducing such activities?

  You also mentioned for monitoring those reconnaissance activities, the Chinese side will adopt different measures according to different situations. Will these measures include interception?

  Since the close-in reconnaissance activity is the root cause of the undesirable air-sea incidents, will the tragedy of history repeat itself as the Chinese side is using interception as a means to respond?

  The second question is about the counter-espionage law. The 10th session of the Standing Committee of the 12th NPC held this month, considered to amend the National Security Law as the Counter-espionage Law.

  As we know that the counter-espionage work is the work of the entire society with the PLA as a part. What the PLA would like to do in coordination in such work?

  Recently, a number of cases of military secrets being stolen have been exposed by the media. Could you please give us more information about that? Is the situation regarding the cases of military secret being stolen within China serious ? What measures has the PLA taken in response?

  As I know, these cases involved many young students. What is your recommendation to them?

  Answer: As I have mentioned, in response to the wide-range intensified close-in reconnaissance conducted by the U.S. ships and aircraft against China, we do have expressed our position to the U.S. diplomatically through public channels.

  Last year, the presidents of China and the U.S. reached consensus on establishing the mutual notification mechanism on major military activities and rules of behavior for air and sea military security on the high sea as early as possible.

  We believe that is a vital step taken and we would like to work with the U.S. side to make joint efforts to push forward the consultation on the rules of behavior for air and sea military security in the high sea to gain progress.

  For the counter-espionage law issue, the related departments of the PLA will closely collaborate with related civil departments to fulfill the corresponding duties according to law.

  For keeping national secrets and military secrets, there are explicit explanations in the related laws and regulations issued by the state and the military.

  As for the information that you provided about the involvement of young students, I’m not aware of the situation.

  But keeping national secret is not only the duty of military personnel, but also the duty of all citizens in accordance with laws.

  Young students are better educated and it is our hope that they become citizens who understand the law, abide by the law and strictly keep national secrets.

  Question13: Recently, according to some Hong Kong media, the second test of the PLA’s hypersonic gliding vehicle failed. Could you give us more information on it?

  Answer: It is normal that we conduct scientific experiments within our border according to our schedule. These experiments are not directed against any specific country or target.


Editor :  Dong Zhaohui