Senior Colonel Ren Guoqianng: Dear friends from the press, good afternoon! Welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of Nation Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which is the last press conference of this year. Also present here today are leaders and comrades from the PLA Air Force Command College, welcome!
I'll start by making an announcement on the reform of the Chinese People’s Armored Police Force (PAPF).
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has decided that starting from the zero hour of January 1st, 2018, the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC) will exercise centralized and unified command over the Chinese People’s Armored Police Force (PAPF), the chain of command as being the CMC- the PAPF – the PAPF troops.
To adjust the chain of command of the PAPF is an important political decision of the CPC Central Committee, a major innovative measure in optimizing and developing socialist military system with Chinese characteristics, a significant political and institutional arrangement to strengthen the absolute leadership of the Party over the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and other people’s armed forces, as well as to ensure the good governance of the Party and the country in the long run.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: The reform of the PAPF has attracted wide attention. What is the reason for the adjustment of the command of the PAPF? What are the stipulations of the law for the reform of the command of the PAPF?
Answer: On the first question, the PAPF is an important component of the national armed forces. The CPC Central Committee has made the decision to adjust the chain of command of the PAPF in line with the principle of military is military, police is police and civilian is civilian so as to fully implement the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, reinforce the principle of the Party’s absolute leadership of the PLA and other people’s armed forces, ensure political security of the state, guarantee the realization of the Party’s mission to strengthen the armed forces and build a modern PAPF in the new era.
On the second question, the Constitution of China stipulates that the CMC directs all armed forces of the country. For the CMC to exercise the unified leadership and command over the PAPF, it is a necessary requirement to implement the Constitution, reinforce the principle of the Party’s control over the armed forces and put into practice the principle that the Chairman of the CMC assumes the overall responsibility of the work of the CMC. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress made the decision on October 31st to adjust the application of relevant stipulations concerning the leadership and command system of the PAPF in the National Defense Law and the People’s Armed Police Force Law. And the Party Central Committee’s relevant decisions should be applied to implementing the adjustment.
Question: What are the major measures taken to realize the adjustment of the command of the PAPF?
Answer: There are mainly three aspects: first, the PAPF will be listed in the organizational structure of the CMC and will no longer be listed in the organizational table of the State Council; second, the development of the PAPF will be administered and led in accordance with the CMC order and organizational structure; third, relevant organs of the CPC Central Committee and the state, as well as local governments and CPC committees at all levels, shall establish coordination mechanisms with corresponding levels of the PAPF.
Question: The CMC will exercise centralized and unified command over the PAPF. Does that mean that the mission and responsibility of the PAPF have changed? Does that mean that China’s national defense policy has changed?
Answer: The PAPF shoulders the sacred mission of maintaining national security and social stability, and guaranteeing the people to live and work in peace and contentment. Its main responsibilities include armed guard, emergency response, counter-terrorism, disaster relief and defensive operations.
The key and core in adjusting the chain of command of the PAPF are to strengthen the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee and the CMC over the PAPF.
The fundamental nature and function of the PAPF will not be changed after the adjustment, nor will the PAPF be listed into the organizational table of the People’s Liberation Army.
China will always hold high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation. And China’s defensive national defense policy has not changed.
Question: The Taiwan defense authority published the so-called “National Defense Report 2017” on December 26th, which is the first one published by the Tsai Ing-wen administration. The report detailed the number of times the PLA Air Force had drilled near the island and listed for the first time the process of the US arms sales to Taiwan, hyping up the US-Taiwan military cooperation. What is your comment?
Answer: First of all, I’d like to point out that Taiwan is a part of China, therefore, there is no such a thing as the so-called “National Defense Report”. China firmly opposes any form of official contacts between Taiwan and the US, and China is willing to do its utmost with maximum sincerity to achieve the outcome of peaceful reunification of the Mainland and Taiwan.
However, we must sternly warn the "Taiwan independence" forces that China’s determination to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity is unshakeable, and any attempt to rely on foreign forces or any attempt to resist the reunification by military force will be in vain. The only right choice is sticking to the 1992 Consensus and maintaining the peaceful development of cross-straits relation, and by so doing can peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits be guaranteed.
Question: Can you tell us if the Chinese Navy, in particular, has been involved in enforcing sanctions against North Korea, specifically making sure that, for example, Chinese ships are not illegally selling oil to North Korean ships at sea?
Answer: China’s principled position on the Korean peninsula issue is very clear. We are committed to the denuclearization, peace and stability on the peninsula, as well as the resolution of issues through peaceful dialogue and consultation. The Chinese government and the military have always strictly implemented the relevant UN resolutions.
Question: The PLA Daily carried the report about a missile brigade of the Rocket Force and it had attracted the attention from Taiwan press. The Central Agency of Taiwan reported on December 25th that the strategic missile forces of the former Second Artillery Force used to be hidden in remote mountains, which had a poor performance in mobility and was vulnerable to attacks. However, the article on the PLA Daily shows that the strategic missiles of the Rocket Force are being upgraded to being capable of carrying out mobile launching. This has attracted a lot of attention. Could you please confirm and brief us on it?
Answer: The PLA Rocket Force is the major strategic deterrence force of the nation, and a strategic pillar of China’s status as a major power and also the cornerstone for maintaining national security. With technological progress, it is normal and necessary for the Rocket Force to develop and upgrade its weaponry and equipment, which is also a common measure taken by various countries in modernizing their armed forces. The PLA Rocket Force’s modernization of its weaponry and equipment focuses on the improvement and upgrading of strategic deterrence and real combat capabilities. It is out of the need for safeguarding national security and it is not targeting any country or specific target. We adhere to the path of peaceful development and firmly follow a defensive national defense policy. We hope that all countries can view China’s development of national defense in an objective manner.
Question: Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov talked about the Russia-China military relations in an interview on 20th of this month. On the bilateral military-to-military relations, Denisov pointed out that the cooperation between the two militaries was the demonstration of political mutual trust between the two countries, and also the military technology cooperation between the two countries had been developing very smoothly with an expansion of areas. He also pointed out that the two countries were having close coordination in regional and international issues and trying to find a way out for resolving the Korean Peninsula issue and it depends on the joint efforts of Russia and China to prevent the issue from deteriorating. Denisov said China also played an important role in resolving the Syria issue, and Russia and China had identical views on the issue. Could you please comment on the China-Russia military-to-military relations in the past year?
Answer: We agree with Russian Ambassador Denisov’s remarks on the Russia-China military-to-military relationship. This relationship is an important component of the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries. This year, the China-Russia military-to-military relationship has kept developing at a high level, and there are several features. The first one is leaders’ guidance. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Putin have attached great importance and provided strategic guidance in person to the bilateral military-to-military relationship. The second one is strategic coordination. Not long ago, Vice Chairman of the CMC of China, General Zhang Youxia, paid a successful visit to Russia, and the two sides have maintained close coordination and effective communication on major regional and international issues and have conducted frequent high-level contacts. On multilateral platforms, the two sides have cooperated and coordinated well with each other. The third outstanding feature is in-depth cooperation in a pragmatic manner. The two sides have jointly organized and taken part in the International Army Games 2017, have conducted the joint maritime exercise and computerized missile defense exercise and also jointly held three briefings on missile defense. All these joint actions have helped deepen the practical cooperation between the two militaries.
Next, we are willing to work with the Russian side to continue to push forward the China-Russia military-to-military relations so as to better protect the common interests of the two countries and make greater contributions to regional and international peace and stability.
Question: The 2nd Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue between the defense departments of China and the US was held in Beijing recently. Could you please brief us on the results of the dialogue?
Answer: Major General Hu Changming, Chief of the International Military Cooperation Office of the CMC of China, and Mr. Helvey, the US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, co-hosted the 2nd Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue between the defense departments of China and the US in Beijing on December 13th, 2017.
Both sides exchanged views on the security situation in the Asia-Pacific region, the cooperation between the two militaries and other issues of common concern. Both sides agreed that under the current circumstance, we should resolutely implement the consensus reached by the two heads of states, make good use of the current work and coordination mechanisms between the two militaries and properly manage crisis so as to contribute to the development of relations between the two militaries and to regional peace and stability.
Question: The New Year is just around the corner. What achievements the Chinese military has made during the past year in terms of international military cooperation and what are the highlights?
Answer: China’s armed forces have been very active in international military cooperation in 2017 and there are several highlights which can be summarized in the following key terms.
The first term is transformation and remolding. To adapt to the requirement for deepening reform of national defense and the military, we are making efforts to remold the platforms for overseas military activities, regional security cooperation, practical exchange mechanism, Theater Commands and military services exchanges, and international communications so as to push forward the transformation and remolding of the Chinese military’s international cooperation.
The second term is combat readiness and war-fighting capability. To focus on enhancing war-fighting capacity, we are making efforts to tap into the supporting function of the international military cooperation in military operations. This year, we have planned and organized more than 20 joint training, exercises and competitions, including the China-Russia joint maritime exercise, China-US joint HADR exercise, China-Pakistan joint air force training, and the International Military Games, which served the objective of boosting the military’s capability to fight and win the war.
The third term is effective rights protection. The international military cooperation contributes to safeguarding national sovereignty and security interests and to the handling of the hot spot and sensitive issues in China’s periphery, including the China-India confrontation in Dong Lang, and rights protection in the South China Sea.
The fourth term is shouldering responsibility. The Chinese military is committed to shouldering more international responsibilities and obligations within its capacity, and we are willing to provide more international public security services, and contribute more to maintaining world peace and boosting common developments as a major country.
For you to have a better understanding of China’s international military cooperation in the past year, we have made a short video clip.
As you were watching the video clip, I have been observing you. You may have noticed that the scene at the end of the video featured that a PLA female naval officer is holding a foreign girl. This female officer’s name is Sheng Ruifang who is a doctor. When Chinese Navy's "Peace Ark" hospital ship on the "Harmonious Mission-2010" medical service visited the Bangladesh 7 years ago, Sheng was onboard the ship at that time. During the port-visit, with Sheng’s help, a pregnant Bangladeshi woman suffered a difficult labor giving birth to this girl. To express thanks to the Chinese Navy, the woman and her husband deliberately named their daughter “Chin” which means China.
7 years later, when Sheng was visiting Bangladesh again with Chinese Navy’s NO.150 high-sea going taskforce in May this year, she met Chin at the wharf, and Chin called Sheng Chinese Mama.
This story is just an epitome showcasing the international public security services that have been provided by China’s armed forces.