(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 Wu Qian: Friends from the media, good afternoon! Before this monthly press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), I’d like to express my special welcome to the friends from Macau Non-profit Social Services Organization who are conducting a Beijing study and exchange tour. I also welcome the friends from the Advanced Spokesperson Training Course of Jiangxi Province.
Beijing is becoming cooler these days. So we have prepared some hot tea for you. Please help yourselves!
Today I have a piece of news to release.
Upon authorization of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and in response to the request of the new United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, the Chinese military finished the registration of an 8,000-member peacekeeping standby force in the UN on September 22 after thorough coordination and communication with relevant UN departments.
China’s peacekeeping standby force includes 6 infantry battalions, 3 engineering companies, 2 transportation companies, 4 level-II hospitals, 4 guard companies, 3 rapid reaction companies, 2 medium-sized multi-purpose helicopter contingents, 2 transport aircraft contingents, 1 unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV) contingent and 1 surface ship contingent, altogether 28 professional contingents in 10 categories.
The peacekeeping standby force will conduct task-specific and adaptive training in accordance with the UN training standards. In response to the force-sending invitation of the UN, the standby force will turn itself into peacekeeping units in time for overseas peacekeeping missions.
The components of China’s peacekeeping standby force are basically battalion-based and company-based units. Their affiliation relations will not be changed when they are on standby in China. In the meantime, they will also shoulder such regular tasks as combat readiness training, emergency rescue and disaster relief and so on.
Building the peacekeeping standby force is not only an important step to implement the commitment that Chinese President Xi has made at the UN Peacekeeping Summit, but also a concrete action to support the UN and its peacekeeping missions. It proves that China, as a major country in the world, is undertaking more international responsibilities and fulfilling more obligations. China’s peacekeeping standby force will play a constructive role in maintaining world peace and regional stability.
Now, the floor is open for questions.
Question: Would you please brief us on the progress of China’s implementation of the 6-point commitment made by President Xi Jinping at the UN Peacekeeping Summit 2015?
Answer: President Xi Jinping attended the UN Peacekeeping Summit in New York on September 28, 2015 and initiated 4 proposals which boil down to strict observance of basic principles for peacekeeping, perfection of peacekeeping operational system, enhancement of rapid reaction capability and greater support and aid to African countries.
President Xi further made a 6-point commitment on practical work. Firstly, China will join the new UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, and decides to take the lead in setting up a permanent peacekeeping police team in organizational structure and build a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 military personnel. Secondly, China will give favorable consideration to UN requests to send more Chinese engineering, transportation and medical personnel to take part in the UN peacekeeping operations. Thirdly, in the next five year, China will train 2,000 peacekeepers from different countries and carry out 10 demining assistance programs, including the provision of training and equipment. Fourthly, in the following five years, China will provide military assistance gratis to the value of US＄100 million to the African Union to support the building-up of the African standby force and the African force for crisis rapid response. Fifthly, China will send the first peacekeeping helicopter contingent to the UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. Sixthly, part of China-UN Peace and Development Fund will be used to support UN peacekeeping operations.
Till now, China has already finished the registration of the peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 military personnel and the required capabilities of peacekeeping missions will be formed as soon as possible. China has built a permanent peacekeeping police team in organizational structure. China is training peacekeepers from other countries and carrying out demining assistance programs, as planned. China has deployed the first peacekeeping helicopter contingent to UN-African Union Mission in Darfur in Sudan. China has placed a certain proportion of engineering, transportation and medical units in the peacekeeping standby force. China is consulting with the African Union on the plan of military assistance gratis and is discussing with the UN on how to run the China-UN Peace and Development Fund. As a responsible major country, China will, as always, continue to honor its solemn commitment to the UN peacekeeping missions.
Question: As the 19th CPC National Congress will be held in October, what achievements have been made by China in deepening national defense and military reform so far? Is there any plan of pushing forward the major work of the reform in the next phase?
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with visiting Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen in Beijing on September 21. Analysts say that Singapore is likely to stop its cooperation with Taiwan on its “Starlight Plan” which has lasted for decades and at the same time Singapore will conduct a series of military exchanges and cooperation including joint military exercises with the Chinese mainland. Could you please brief us on this?
Answer: Aiming at achieving the ‘Two Centenary Goals’ and realizing the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the CPC Central Committee, the Central Military Commission (CMC) and President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the CMC, have made the important strategic decision to deepen the national defense and military reform.
As the reform has entered the implementation stage, changes of historical significance have taken place in military leadership & management system; substantial breakthroughs have been made in the reform of commanding system for joint operations; a solid step has been taken in the reform of force scale, structure and composition; a critical development has been achieved in the reform of joint logistics support; and, a systematic restructuring of military academies, scientific research institutions and training institutions has been completed. Besides, major progress has been made in the development of supporting policies and mechanisms as well as the civil-military integrated development. Now the Chinese military takes on a new look featuring new mechanisms, a new structure and a new pattern of development.
The meeting between Gen. Chang Wanquan and Mr. Ng Eng Hen has already been covered by media. In recent years, we have seen a generally smooth development of the mil-to-mil relations between China and Singapore. The two sides have conducted a series of cooperation including high-level exchanges, defense policy dialogues, joint training activities, mutual naval port calls, and intercollegiate exchanges among others. Mutual understanding has been deepened with many fruits of practical cooperation. The Chinese side is willing to work with the Singaporean side and create more favorable conditions for the development of a more mature mil-to-mil relations between the two countries.
I also want to stress here that Taiwan is an indispensable part of China, and we firmly oppose any country to conduct any form of official exchange or military contact with Taiwan.
Question: The air forces of China and Pakistan held the sixth joint training exercise code-named “Shaheen-VI” in Korla, China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from September 7 to 27, 2017. Compared with the past joint training exercises, what are the main characteristics of this one?
Answer: Speaking of Pakistan, the first word popping into my mind is “Batie”, or “Iron Pakistan”. President Xi pointed out that the Pakistani military is a mainstay of China-Pakistan friendship. If we characterize the China-Pakistan military-to-military relationship with three key words, they will be the all-weather brotherhood, high-level mutual assistance and support, and deep-rooted strategic mutual trust.
As to your question about the characteristics of this joint training exercise, I want to summarize into five “firsts”. Namely, it is the first time for the two sides to conduct joint confrontation training at night in China; the first time to carry out close-in support operations; the first time to organize real-combat target practice during the joint training exercise; the first time to introduce elements of naval aviation and the airborne special operation units, etc.; and also the first time to have pilots from the two sides to fly one plane in the confrontation training.
Compared with the previous ones, there are more forces and elements in this joint training exercise, and the combat system is set up in a more perfect way.
If my answer doesn’t satisfy your craving, we have prepared a short video clip.（Download the video）
Question: I have question about China’s export of military drones. In recent years, China has an increasingly export of military drones to other countries, which has attracted some concerns. Some foreign military officials said that China has not been providing any preconditions for the export of these drones to make sure they are not misused. So, what guarantees has the Chinese government offered for these military drones to be used lawfully and not to be misused? Thank you.
Answer: For the question concerning military products export, you can consult the competent authority, but I want to stress that, China has always adhered to the three principles when exporting military armament:
First, the export should be conducive to enhancing the self-defense capacity of the importing countries.
Second, the export should not harm regional or international peace, security and stability.
Third, the export should not interfere with the domestic affairs of the importing countries.
China strictly abides by relevant UN regulations and China’s export of armament is lawful and responsible.
Question: Since May 20 last year, we have seen more and more PLA aircrafts circling around the Taiwan Island. Some Taiwan media analyze that this is a warning to the Taiwan authority, and some people in Taiwan regard it as a military threat from the mainland of China which is worrisome . What is your comment?
Answer: For your question, there are three points I want to make. Firstly, Taiwan is a part of China, and this is the precondition and basis for me to answer the question. Secondly, the relevant air force training is part of the annual training plan of the PLA air force, and similar trainings will continue in the future. Thirdly, for those people who feel worried, I want to say, there is no need to fear or worry as long as one does not seek ‘Taiwan independence’.
Question: Recently, the military service personnel logistics support card system has been upgraded. Would you please brief us?
Answer: In line with the joint notification of the People’s Bank of China and the Logistics Support Department of the CMC, the application of the 2nd generation military service personnel logistics support card will start soon.
The new card has five features.
Firstly, more financial functions. Services such as online, mobile and telephone banking will be available. Ali-pay, We-Chat and other domestic third-party payment platforms can be used for payments. The card can be used for financial management and military service personnel can buy some moderately reimbursed financial products specially designed for them. The card will allow convenient and economical money transfer between different banks and regions.
Secondly, more diversified applications. Functions such as transferring logistics supply relations, paying salaries and allowances, issuing uniforms and equipment, managing housing information have been optimized and upgraded. With one card in hand, service personnel can see doctors in any one of the military medical institutions. Using the card for recuperation and health examination will be gradually popularized. Cooperation with large e-commerce platforms will be initiated so that all service personnel and their family members can enjoy preferential services and shopping of high quality.
Thirdly, greater security. The card is embedded with contact chip for financial functions. The security and counterfeit design of the card is upgraded, so does the level of protection.
Fourthly, stronger reliability. The card, which is made from selected new materials with new surface designs and manufacturing techniques, can sustain a life time as long as 10 years.
Fifthly, improved efficiency to apply for the card. The working process of production, issuing, and personalization of the card will be optimized so as to effectively improve the efficiency of card manufacturing and issuing and meet the requirement of ‘posted elsewhere without reapplication for a new card’.
From October 10, 2017, the pilot work for the application of the 2nd generation military service personnel logistics support card will be launched. The all-out application will be started from December 1. We will increase the supply of the cards to be issued and for replacement. The upgrading of the card for the People’s Armed Police Force will be started simultaneously.
Question: It is reported that the hospital ship Peace Ark of the Chinese PLA Navy is conducting the task of “Harmonious Mission 2017” in Africa to provide humanitarian medical services for relevant countries. Could you please brief us on this?
Answer: Before I brief you on the situation, I’d like to tell you a true story. On September 21, when the medical staffs from the Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark were providing free medical service in Sierra Leone, they found an unborn baby facing life risk from a woman in labor. So, they immediately moved the mother-to-be to the hospital ship Peace Ark for surgical operation, which saved the baby’s life. The parents named the baby “Peace”. I want to show you a photo of the child. I think the baby is cute, isn’t it?
The hospital ship Peace Ark of the Chinese PLA Navy left the Port of Zhoushan in China’s Zhejiang province on July 26 this year for the task of “Harmonious Mission” in eight countries including Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and East Timor. This is the sixth time for the hospital ship Peace Ark to conduct such mission. Right now, the ship is heading to the Port of Owendo in Gabon.
Question: Recently, President Xi wrote a letter in reply to the newly enlisted students of Nankai University, and it got a warm response. Could you please brief us on this year’s conscription work, especially, the enlistment of college students?
Answer: The correspondence of President Xi to the newly enlisted Naikai University students shows the great importance attached by the Chinese military leader to the cause of the military and national defense, as well as his great care to and expectations on the young students.
So far, there have been applications from almost 5 million young people of draft age. The number of application from college students and the number of those who have gone through health examination have been on remarkable increase. We can see a steady enhancement of educational background for the applicants. We welcome ambitious young people to act upon President Xi’s call and turn their love of the motherland into the action to serve it, to show their talent on the big platform of the military and forge themselves into a better self in the military.
Question: We know that China has built a peacekeeping standby force of 8000 military personnel. Does it mean the Chinese side will expand its participation in UN peacekeeping operations? And some analysts claim that China is attempting to enhance its military presence abroad in the name of peacekeeping operations. What is your comment?
Answer: The type and strength of military units of carrying out UN peacekeeping missions are mandated by the UN Security Council. Upon the request of the UN and their own conditions, the government of different countries will decide whether to contribute troops or not. The UN will make the final decision through a comprehensive evaluation. China will take various factors into consideration, including the UN’s need for peacekeeping operations, the willingness of the countries concerned, and the self-availability of the Chinese military, to decide whether to expand China’s participation in UN’s peacekeeping missions .
China is a staunch defender of world peace and a strong supporter of the UN peacekeeping operations. For the past years, China dispatched more than 36,000 military peacekeepers and 13 of them sacrificed their lives on the front lines. China is the largest troops contributing country among the permanent five of the UN Security Council, and also a major funder of the UN peacekeeping operations. The establishment of Chinese standby peacekeeping forces shows China’s strong determination to honor its commitment and responsibility. I don’t know where the analysis you mentioned comes from, but I want to say that it is a stab in the back and a despicable action for someone hiding behind the scene and making cynical comments while the Chinese peacekeepers are braving the storms of shells and shots to safeguard peace.
Question: Could I ask you to give your attention to the Korean Peninsula please? Does China have plans to respond to the emergency there in terms of securing nuclear sites and missile sites. And has it tried to communicate its plans on such a situation to other countries such as the United States?
Answer: I think you know the 3 points of ‘insistence’ by China: China insists on the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, China insists on maintaining the peninsula’s peace and stability and China insists on solving the issue through dialogues and consultation. We hold that dialogue and consultation is the only effective measure to solve the issue and the military action cannot be an option. And the Chinese military will make all necessary preparation to safeguard its sovereignty, security as well as regional peace and stability.
Question: China’s 4th generation stealth fighter jet J-20 has been frequently exposed by netizens since its first show at the Zhuhai International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. When will the aircraft go into commission? Furthermore, pictures about the maiden flight of a J-20 fighter jet (aircraft number 2021) were spread on the Internet recently. Some report says the fighter is equipped with the domestically-made Taihang engines. Please verify this report and tell us more details.
Answer: By now, J-20 fighter jets have already been commissioned in the PLA. The test and trial flights are being conducted in a smooth manner according to plan.
Question: Whenever the situation in Korean Peninsula becomes tense, there will be Western media reports of “China Responsibility Theory”, blaming China for its failure to shoulder due responsibilities to solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Could you please comment on that?
Answer: China has made enormous efforts and tremendous contributions to the settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue. This is universally recognized by the international community. To be frank, the core of the Korean Peninsula issue is the dispute between the DPRK and the United States. We hope some countries concerned can stop shifting responsibilities and seeking to gain self-interests, but rather, say something to ease the tension and take some concrete actions in a responsible manner. We ask these countries to examine their own deeds before pointing fingers at China.
Question: Recently, it was reported that China’s first domestically-made aircraft carrier had been conducting demagnetizing work, and its maiden navigation is coming soon. Could you please give us some information? And analysts from the outside say that China is designing another totally new aircraft carrier. Would you please confirm that?
My second question is about the US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ India tour. During his tour, issues like the export of F-16 fighters and advanced maritime UAVs were discussed. And there are some outside analysts saying that “the strategic underpinning of US-India defense ties is in the common concerns they have over China”. Can you comment on that please?
Answer: On your first question, China’s second aircraft carrier is conducting systematic equipment adjustment and outfitting according to plan and an all-out mooring test. So far, relevant work has been conducted smoothly.
As to your second question, we have noticed related reports. We hope the military cooperation between the US and India can be conducive to regional peace and stability but not the opposite.
Question: We heard that Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanqan had accepted the invitation to visit Singapore when he met with Singaporean Defense Minister NG Eng Hen. Is there any time-table or will it be arranged around the Shangri-La Dialogue next year?
Answer: I have made an over-all evaluation of China-Singapore mil-to-mil relations just now. As for the details of this question, I would like to learn more information before I give you the answer.
Question: Today, source from the military is quoted as saying that China is to build a multifunctional dock at the PLA support base in Djibouti to facilitate the military vessels to berth at its foreign base. Could you please verify this?
Answer: The PLA support base in Djibouti is mainly for replenishment of food and fuel for the Chinese troops conducting the escort missions and humanitarian aid in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast. For the progress of the base, we will release information in due time.
China’s National Day is just around the corner, which will witness the 68th birthday of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Let’s extend our best wishes to our strong motherland behind the Chinese people, for it to be more prosperous. In the meanwhile, the China’s traditional Mid-Autumn Festival will also come soon. On this occasion, I wish you all a happy holiday and a happy family. Thank you!
Here concludes this month’s regular press conference.