(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: Dear friends from the press, good afternoon! Welcome to the first regular press conference in the year of 2018 of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Hereby I’d like to welcome my colleagues from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Departments of the State Council.
I do not have any information to release. Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: The CMC recently issued the Regulation on the Management of Military Internet Media, which attracted wide attention. According to some British media, it seems that the new regulation is meant to exert greater control over the release of military information. What is your comment?
Answer: The Regulation on the Management of Military Internet Media recently issued by the CMC will help regulate the management of military internet media and promote the development of such media to provide the public and officers and men with information services with higher quality and efficiency.
Under this regulation, access to Internet media is more diversified. Military institutions such as news and publishing, public defense awareness promotion, education and scientific research, medical service and information release may apply for the operation of internet media. Military personnel can also apply for new media accounts on the Internet through regulated approval or filing procedure.
Support to development of military internet media is stronger. We will plan and promote the development of such media in a coordinated way in a bid to establish a matrix of online military media that are complimentary in function and coordinated in operation. High-quality media accounts will be selected to enter civilian new media platforms in order to increase the coverage and influence of military information on the Internet and meet the public and the military personnel’s need for information.
Question: During the military training mobilization ceremony held by the Central Military Commission (CMC) at the beginning of the year 2018, President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the CMC, gave an order urging the Chinese armed forces to implement the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the CPC’s thought on building a strong military in the new era in its strive to strengthen the real combat-oriented military training and improve the war-winning capability in an all-round way. What specific measures will be taken by the military to achieve this end?
Answer: On the 3rd of January, President Xi joined the military officers and men on the training range and gave an order on training at an unprecedented and significant PLA-wide training mobilization ceremony.
The Armed Forces responded rapidly upon Chairman Xi’s order, and commanders at all levels immediately led their troops to rush to the training ranges. Officers and men put themselves into the heat of live-fire and real confrontation training in the mountains, waves and clouds.
Keeping military training abreast with the war is a common challenge for all militaries around the world, which puts innovation at the heart of the military training. At present, the PLA and the Armed Police Force should narrow the gap between the current military training theories and principles determining the winner of the modern war, between items and criteria of training and requirements of real combat training, between existing conditions supporting military training and actual combat environments, and between the current training regulations and the practice of strict management of military training according to law. The military should issue new military training regulations, adopt new training outlines, and promulgate the regulations on military training supervision to push forward the construction of military training regulations and laws, and hold grand debate on the principles determining the winning of modern wars as well as innovative training concepts. The military should continuously promote joint operational training, real combat training, conducting training according to PLA’s military training outlines and strengthening military training disciplines. And the military should also improve combat capability in joint operations based on the network information system and the combat capability in multi-dimensional operations, so as to effectively shape our security posture, manage crisis, deter and win wars.
The PLA and the Armed Police Force are fully confident and determined to accomplish the responsibilities and tasks in the new era entrusted by the CPC and the people.
As a glimpse into the scenes of the PLA and the Armed Police Force in real combat training, we would like to present the following video clip, Forging a Stronger Military—2018.
Question: According to a message released recently by the Defense Ministry of Kazakhstan, the leaders of the international military cooperation departments of defense ministries of the SCO member states held an annual military cooperation meeting in China. Would you brief us on the details of this meeting?
Last time when answering the reporter’s question about the meaning of the flag of the Armed Police Force, you said that one of the deep olive green strips on the flag represent the APF’s task of conducting maritime rights protection and law enforcement. Which units of the Armed Police Force are responsible for such tasks?
Answer: The meeting of leaders of the international military cooperation departments of defense ministries of the SCO member states was held in China on January 15, 2018. The meeting reviewed and summarized the military activities jointly held within the SCO framework in 2017, and discussed activities to be held under the SCO framework in 2018, including the SCO Defense Ministers’ Meeting and the Fanfare for Peace Military Tattoo in China, and Peace Mission – 2018 Joint Counter-terrorism Military Exercise in Russia.
India and Pakistan, the two new SCO members, also sent their representatives to the meeting. Both countries expressed willingness to actively participate in the defense and security cooperation within the SCO framework. The Republic of Belarus also attended the meeting as a special guest. The convening of this meeting is of great significance for the SCO to strengthen its internal solidarity and coordination after the enlargement of the organization and promote the defense and security cooperation of the SCO in the new situation.
Next, the defense ministries and armed forces of the SCO member states will continue to implement the Shanghai Spirit featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversified civilization and pursuit for common development, firmly maintain the regional security and stability, further improve the defense and security cooperation mechanism, so as to make positive contribution to the building of a shared community featuring peace and stability, development and prosperity.
On your second question, the three main tasks of the Armed Police Force include safeguarding China’s political security and social stability, conducting maritime rights protection and law enforcement, and carrying out defense operations. With regard to the forces composition of the Armed Police Force, we will release relevant information in due course as the reform proceeds.
Question: Tsai Ing-wen, the local leader of Taiwan, said this week that she could not rule out the possibility that China would reunify with Taiwan by use of arms. What is your response to this? Second, the Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group sailed twice through the Taiwan Strait this month. Will you comment on that?
Answer: On your first question, we have the utmost sincerity to strive for peaceful reunification, but we would never allow Taiwan to be separated from China.
With regard to your second question, recently, the Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group conducted a cross-region maneuver according to the annual training plan. The purpose of the training is to test the performance of the weapons and equipment, and the training level of the troops.
Question: We noticed that the US will host the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2018 this year. Has China received the invitation from the US to the exercise?
Answer: The Chinese side has received the invitation from the US side. Lately we sent representatives to participate in the MPC of the RIMPAC and discussed details with the US side for the arrangement of China’s participation.
Question: It was reported recently that US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will visit China in the coming spring. Could you please confirm the information and tell us more?
Answer: The Chinese side welcomes the US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to visit China in the first half of this year. The defense ministries of the two countries are now keeping close contact regarding this visit.
Question: According to media reports, an American consultation company has recently released its “annual forecast of top 10 risks in the world for 2018”, putting China’s growing influence on the top of the list. In recent years, such kind of negative opinions on China have appeared frequently, and foreign media have been particularly concerned about the increase of China’s military strength with some repeatedly hyping up the “China military threat”. What is your comment on it?
Answer: With regard to the so-called “China military threat” you just mentioned, I’d like to share with you a story first. Please take a look at the picture shown on the screen.
What you can see in the picture is a foreign sail boat which is on its global voyage. On 31st of December last year, this boat was grounded near the Sanjiao Reef in the Nansha Islands with three foreign personnel on board, one from Switzerland, one from France and another from Poland. After discovering the grounded boat, the Chinese military coordinated with China Coast Guard and other relevant maritime search and rescue forces at the first time to carry out rescue operations. Finally, the three persons were rescued successfully.
That is the end of the story and I’d like add a few comments. I notice that there are some individual and forces, who are always reluctant to accept the development of China and its military. They jump out once in a while to play up so called "China military threat”. This sick mentality needs to be adjusted. Frankly speaking, the development of China is a fact that cannot be denied. The growth of China is the growth of peaceful forces in the world. No matter what these individuals and forces are trying to do, whether to play up the “China military threat” or to contain us, their effort is doomed to fail.
Question: You have just mentioned that a joint counter-terrorism military exercise under the SCO framework will be held in Russia in 2018. Could you please confirm whether Pakistan and India will be invited to participate in the exercise?
Answer: We will release information regarding the participating countries of this joint military exercise in due course.
Question: The Expanded Meeting of the CMC Disciplinary Committee was held in Beijing on 17thof January. According to the meeting, the military will resolutely implement President Xi’s important decisions and instructions, and unswervingly advance the Party’s overall and strict governance in the military. Could you please brief us on the major steps and measures in the military’s strive to improve the work style and clean administration of the Party in the military and to fight against corruption?
Answer: The Expanded Meeting of the CMC Disciplinary Committee sketched out the armed forces plan in 2018 to improve the work style and clean administration of the Party in the military and to fight against corruption.
We will fully implement the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, follow the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the new era and thoroughly implement Xi Jinping’s thinking of building a strong military.
We will strengthen the four consciousnesses of the ideology, the whole, the core and the line; enhance the four confidences in the path, theories, system and culture of the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.
We will implement the general requirement of Party building in the New Era and follow the guidance of the political construction of the Party to advance the overall and strict governance of the Party in the military.
We will staunchly and voluntarily uphold the authority of the CPC Central Committee, uphold President Xi as the core of the CPC Central Committee and the whole Party and uphold and implement the chairperson responsibility system of the CMC.
We will staunchly and forcefully concentrate on the responsibilities of the military and serve to enhance combat readiness, and we will staunchly press ahead our campaign to punish corruption harshly, build a fine work style and tighten supervision and accountability check, with a view to score new achievements and stage a new phase in the fight against corruption, thus providing political guarantee and disciplinary support to achieve the Party’s goal to build a strong military in the new era and the full transformation of the PLA into a world-class military.
Eight priorities have been identified. Firstly, we will take the Three Upholds as the foremost requirement and use strict disciplines to ensure the military’s absolute loyalty to the Party and obedience to President Xi’s command.
Secondly, we will follow the requirement of fighting and winning wars, strengthen supervision and inspection in the military and endeavor to make greater contribution to enhancing the capabilities to win wars.
Thirdly, we will monitor closely signs of the four forms of recurring decadence (formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance) to foster a healthy political ecological environment of integrity.
Fourthly, we will carry out case investigation thoroughly and punish corruption harshly to consolidate and drive further the crushing momentum of the anti-corruption campaign.
Fifthly, we will improve the quality of disciplinary inspection to maintain constant deterrence over corruption.
Sixthly, we will try to prevent and tackle corruption in a more scientific and effective manner by establishing and improving the system to eliminate the nerve, means and desire for corruption.
Seventhly, we will implement thoroughly the Two Responsibilities (the Party committees assume the principal responsibilities for improving Party conduct and clean governance, while discipline inspection commissions assume responsibility for oversight) to ensure that Party organs at all levels assume their respective responsibilities to administer and govern Party affairs.
And eighthly, we will step up efforts to build disciplinary inspection and supervision organs and to forge a sword of disciplinary inspection worthy of the trust of the Party and all military officers and men.
Question: It was reported recently that China had installed two underwater acoustic detection systems in the western Pacific in 2016. Could you please confirm if the Chinese military has ever used these facilities and what significance do you see this could have for the Chinese national defense? The second question concerns a message I received from my colleagues in America that a hotline between China and the US armed forces has been established to discuss the possibility of coordination once there is a conflict on the Korean peninsula. What is your comment?
Answer: For your first question I suggest you to refer to the competent departments. And for your second question, in as early as 2008, China and the US established a direct telephone link between the two defense ministries. With this achieve the Party’s goal to build a strong military in the new era and the PLA into a world-class military., the leaders of the two defense departments and armed forces have held conversations for several times, and the media have also reported extensively. This telephone link was named Defense Telephone Link (DTL) by the United States Department of Defense.
Question: Some articles by ex-servicemen have been circulated on the new media platforms lately in which those ex-servicemen recalled their service life, expressed their feelings towards the military and offered suggestions for the reform and development of the military. Could you please comment on this?
Answer: I have read some of the articles you mentioned just now. The ex-servicemen’s attachment to and care for the military reminded me of a line from an ancient Chinese poem: Deep into the night I lie in bed, listening to the wind blowing the rain, and so vividly in the dream were my days of military service with armored horses along icy rivers. Indeed, demobilized officers are invaluable assets of the Party and our country. They contributed the best of their years to the military during their service. And they continued to care for the development of the military and showed attachment to the military after they left. Some soldiers come while some go, but the military will forever remember and honor the service of its soldiers. The CPC Central Committee, the State Council and the CMC have always cared for ex-service persons and took a series of measures to improve their preferential treatment. We thank those who have served and welcome them to offer constructive suggestions on the national defense and armed forces development.
Question: Two persons who refused to serve in the army received punishment this month by the municipal government of Fu’an City, Fujian Province, including printing the phrase DRAFT EVADER in their household registers. In the past a few years, there have been more reports of punishment on persons evading military service. Has the punishment on military service refusal cases been more severe since this round of military reform? What new measures will the Chinese military take to boost conscription?
Answer: For long, numerous draft age youths have been enthusiastic to join the army and serve the nation. China’s Constitution, the National Defense Law and the Military Service Law stipulate military service as the obligation of a citizen and specify the legal liability of refusal to serve. The rare cases of refusal are all punished according to laws and regulations.
On your second question, the Chinese armed forces hope more talented young people to join in its drive of building a world-class military. To fully implement the spirit of the 19th National congress of the CPC and Xi Jinping’s thinking on building a strong military, we target high-caliber young people as the main pool for conscription and increase the percentage of conscription from college graduates. To encourage more young talents to join the military, we have improved the conscription policies for college graduates, giving highly-educated and fresh graduates priorities when they apply to serve, and preferential policies in resuming studies in colleges, pursuing further education and employment assistance after they leave the active service.
The conscription office under the Ministry of National Defense has arranged the preparation work for this year’s conscription in the Notice on the Preparatory Work for the conscription in 2018 the office issued earlier this month. The national conscription portal was launched on 10th January, marking the start of online collection of military service information, enlisting registration and policy consultation.
We welcome all the young people who want to devote themselves to national defense to join the army, where the flowers of youth blossom for the safety of our motherland.
Question: It’s reported that China is working with Afghanistan to build a military base in Afghanistan. Can you confirm this? If so, could you please provide some details?
Answer: I have noticed two different kinds of reports on this issue on the Internet. One says that China is financing Afghanistan to build a military base. I haven’t heard of anything like that.
Afghanistan is at the forefront of the international effort to fight against terrorism and has made important contribution and great sacrifice to counter-terrorism in the region. China and Afghanistan are friendly neighbors. The two armed forces have carried out friendly exchange and cooperation in many fields including counter-terrorism. China has provided some aid and helps to the Afghanistan side and is willing to continue to make common efforts with the Afghanistan side to maintain the security and stability of both countries and the region at large.
The other report says that China is planning to establish its own military base in Afghanistan. What I want to tell you is that China and Afghanistan maintain normal military security cooperation. China and the international community are all supporting the Afghanistan side to strengthen its capability-building in national defense and counter-terrorism. The report on China’s building of its own military base in Afghanistan is ungrounded.
Question: The situation on the Korean Peninsula is showing sign of ease at the beginning of 2018. But some comments believe that the grievances between the US and DPRK have been so deep that such ease is too late to reverse the crisis on the Peninsula. May I have your comments on this?
Answer: During his visit to the US in 2015,President Xi once quoted that the time is always right to do what is right. We hope that the tension will be eased and peace and stability will be secured on the Korean Peninsula.
Question: According to the reports of Indian media, Indian Army Chief General Rawat said that India needed to shift its focus to the northern border and India was capable of handling the dominance from the Chinese military. He also said that Donglang does not belong to India and the Indian troop did enter the territory that does not belong to India. And at the same time, he also said that India should not let its neighboring countries drift away. What is your comment?
Answer: I have noticed many China-related remarks made by this Indian general lately. I would like to stress that Donglang is China’s territory and the remarks from the Indian side also shows that the illegal border crossing of the Indian troops is a clear fact. We hope that the Indian side will draw lessons from the incident to avoid similar incident to repeat in the future. Besides, I would like to emphasize that every country should be treated equally regardless of its size. The concept of sphere of influence reflects Cold War mentality, which China has always been opposed to.
Question: On October this month, Adm. Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) described China as a disruptive force in the Indo-Pacific region during the security forum held in India. What is your comment on this? You briefed us on the functions of the Armed Police Force just now. I compared your briefing with what was said in the Defense White Paper in 2015. I noticed some big changes. Could you please tell us if there are fundamental differences between these two definitions concerning the tasks of the Armed Police Force? The Armed Police Force now is responsible for maritime law enforcement. Does this mean that China will adopt a different approach in handling its disputes over islands and reefs with other countries?
Answer: On your first question, China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a protector of international order. We firmly pursue a defense policy that is defensive in nature and the military strategy of active defense. We strive to provide more public security product to the international community, which is a widely recognized fact.
The American admiral described China as disruptive. But if there is anything China wants to disrupt, it is nothing but the hegemonic thinking and the cold war mentality that some people cling to so dearly.
With regards to the tasks of the armed police forces, since I have reiterated three major tasks of the armed police forces, I will not repeat that. What I want to stress is that the core of the adjustment in the command mechanism of the armed police forces is to strengthen the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee and CMC over the Armed Police Forces. After the adjustment, the fundamental functions of the armed police forces stay unchanged. China will always uphold peace, development, cooperation and win-win. Our adherence to the defense policy that is defensive in nature stays unchanged as well.
Question: In view of the question you just responded about China’s construction of a military base in Afghanistan, I want to ask one more question. Reports also said China is funding an anti-terrorism military base in Afghanistan. Could you make further explanation of this?
Answer: I would like to repeat that the reports on China’s building military base in Afghanistan are totally groundless.
Question: I noticed a report about “Cadets of Military Academy Sitting on Train Cause Discontent among Civilians without Seat Tickets”. It’s known to all that it’s difficult to buy the train tickets during the Spring Festival transportation. The report said that at the end, the cadets offered their seats to those civilian passengers without seat tickets. Should the cadets offer their seats to those civilian passengers? How should we make balance on the relevant benefits between service members and the civilians? How can we really improve the status and sense of honor of the service members?
Answer: I noticed that report and the comments of its readers. Here I want to share two sentences with you. Firstly, to serve the people wholeheartedly is the purpose of the people’s military. Secondly, the legal rights of the service members must be protected.
Question: Japanese Chief of Staff Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano recently accused China of disregarding the International Law in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. He also suggested that India, the U.S., Australia and Japan should work together to isolate China, and force China to change. Could you please comment on his remarks?
Answer: The remarks of the Japanese official are totally groundless and full of cold-war mentality. I want to stress that the contribution of the Chinese side to the international community is widely recognized and such suggestion of isolating China is just wishful thinking.
Question: The US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is visiting southeastern Asian countries. According to media report, Mattis is trying to boost the military corporations between the US and relevant countries in the South China Sea region and bring the Indo-Pacific strategy from documents to practice. Considering there will be a negotiation of the Code of Conduct in South China Sea between the relevant countries of the South China Sea issue in the first half of this year, some analysts believe that the US hopes to manipulate the South China Sea issue through this effort. What is your comment on that?
Answer: China has always insisted that the military corporation between relevant countries should be conducive to the peace and stability of the region rather than the opposite.
Question: We noticed the mil-to-mil relationship between China and the US is faced with some challenges due to several unilateral military attempts by US in readjusting in its military strategy and carrying out the so-called freedom of navigation operations. But we also learned just now that the Chinese side will welcome Secretary Mattis’ visit to China. What message does this convey and how do you see the prospect between the militaries of the two countries?
Answer: A healthy and stable relationship between China and the US militaries is in the common interests of both countries and their people and is conducive to regional peace and stability. But the maintenance of such a relationship calls for concerted efforts from both sides. We would like to work with the US side in the spirit of mutual trust, mutual respect, practical cooperation and proper management of disputes to add positive energy to and provide new impetus for the development of bilateral relations.
Question: Media reports says that China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier is about to start the mooring test, and the new aircraft carrier will use the electromagnetic catapult. Could you please confirm?
Answer: I have no information to share with you about this question.
If there are no more questions, I would like to share with you some stories before we end today’s press conference.
It is very cold in Beijing today, but even colder would be the border areas of China. The Chinese Spring Festival is around the corner, and we are all looking forward to family reunion. But please don’t forget the soldiers who guard the country along the border. Please allow me to share with you a group of pictures as well as their stories.
The first picture shows a soldier named Alim and his comrades conducting an ordinary patrol on the Pamir Plateau in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at the altitude of 4’700 meters above the sea level.
If you look very carefully at the second picture, you will find two soldiers, named Li Jiang and Wang Meng. The picture shows they are executing guarding missions at a field training site at the altitude of almost 5000 meters above the sea level on the Tibet Plateau of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
The third picture shows Captain Cao Quanxin driving a snowmobile nicknamed “Arctic Wolf” during a border patrol mission in the depth of the snow-covered forest of the northeast China’s Great Khingan Range in the coldness with a temperature of minus 35 degrees centigrade.
The fourth picture shows a soldier named Tang Yunhang and his fellows assigned to the PLA Northern Theater Command executing military training exercise in freezing cold temperature of nearly minus 40 degrees centigrade.
The fifth picture shows the Laofengkou (or the Old Wind Gap) at the border between China and Kazakhstan. This place is always blow force 10 winds, and the officers and soldiers there have to tie themselves together and hold hands on their ways to and from their post. And this picture shows First Lieutenant Yang Lidong and his comrades on their routine mission shift.
Please allow me to express our highest respect for the border troops who are safeguarding our country!
The Chinese traditional Spring Festival is coming. I want to express our early greetings on behalf of the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense to all the friends from the press. We sincerely appreciate your care, support and help in the passing year. I hereby wish you all a happy lunar new year and a happy family! Thank you!