Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on May 25, 2017. (mod.gov.cn/Photo by Feng Kaihua )
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Colonel Ren Guoqiang:
Dear friends from the media, good afternoon !
Welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Here I would like to welcome the compatriots and friends from the Hong Kong civil servant class of China Foreign Affairs University.
Now, the floor is open for questions.
Q: The Jane’s Defense Weekly reported on the 17th this month that the Chinese side has established a RMB 150 billion national fund for developing new technology in national defense and other important strategic fields. Is it a part of the budget of China’s national defense or is it a kind of hidden budget?
Secondly, media reported that a US destroyer entered within 12 nautical miles of the Meiji Reef of China today to conduct a so-called “Freedom of Navigation Operation”. Would you please confirm that?
Besides, we noticed that, recently, a US military airplane conducted a close-in reconnaissance in the East China Sea. Is the US sending a strong message to the Chinese side through this event and other events such as sailing within 12 nautical miles and handing over patrol vessels to Vietnam? And will there be any negative impact on the mil-to-mil relationship between the two countries?
A: According to my knowledge, the report by the Jane’s Defense Weekly is inaccurate. Actually, the fund you mentioned is a guidance fund for the investment of the Central Government-owned enterprises under the guidance of the State-owned Assets Administration Commission. For the details, you can refer to the competent government authority. What I want to stress here is that there is no so-called hidden budget in China’s national defense.
When it comes to the second question, on May 25th, the missile destroyer USS Dewey entered the adjacent waters of the relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands without permission. And the missile frigates CNS Liuzhou and Luzhou identified and verified the American ship, warned and dispelled it.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. The Chinese military strongly opposes the US behavior of showing force and boosting regional militarization, which is highly likely to trigger sea and air accidents. The Chinese military has lodged solemn representations to the US side.
For a while, under the joint efforts of China and the ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is becoming sound and stable, but the wrong action by the US side is holding back this momentum, which undermines peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The state-to-state and mil-to-mil relationship between China and the US is at an important stage for development, and we think a healthy and stable China-US relationship conforms to the common interests of both sides and calls for joint efforts from both sides.
We urge the US side to take concrete measures to correct its mistake and put more positive energy into the development of state-to-state and mil-to-mil relationship. The misconduct of the US military will only motivate the Chinese military to strengthen its capabilities and to defend its national sovereignty and security in a more resolute manner.
On the third question, I think your third question is about the China-US mil-to-mil relationship. As we all know, from 6th to 7th of April, President Xi Jinping and President Trump held a summit meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Florida and reached a series of important consensuses which paved the way for the long-term development of the state-to-state relationship and also drew a blueprint for the development of the mil-to-mil relationship.
As is pointed out by President Xi Jinping, the mil-to-mil relationship is an important part of the state-to-state relationship and the mutual trust in military and security is the basis for strategic mutual trust between China and the United States. The Chinese military will unswervingly implement the important consensuses reached by the two heads of states and will manage the risks and properly deal with the differences in a constructive manner with the US side and continuously enhance mutual trust between the two militaries.
We will carry out the mil-to-mil exchanges at different levels and make good use of different mechanisms of consultation and dialogue, especially the two major mechanisms in confidence-building, so as to achieve greater progress in the development of mil-to-mil relationship under new circumstances.
Q: It was confirmed by the Ministry of National Defense that the PLA Rocket Force tested a new type of missile on May 9th. According to the pictures on the Internet, there was a mark “EA/DF-26B” on the missile body. It is speculated that “EA” stands for “electronic attack”, which means the missile is for anti-radiation and it is related to the deployment of the THAAD system by the Republic of Korean (ROK). Would you please confirm that?
A: We’ve released information on May 9th on the operational test of a new type of missile by the PLA Rocket Force. So far I have no new information for you.
Q: There are media comments that the hidden purpose for China’s Belt and Road Initiative is to expand its military presence in countries along the route. For example, the investments in the civilian-used ports in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Greece are for commercial cooperation on the surface, but they are actually for military purposes. Could you please comment on that?
A: This view is groundless. China’s purpose of raising the Belt and Road Cooperation Initiative is to provide more public products for neighboring countries and regional cooperation on the basis of common development, and make its own contribution to promoting the economic prosperity of the countries and regional economic development.
The Belt and Road Cooperation Initiative does not contain military or geo-strategic intent. China does not seek dominance in regional affairs, does not seek the sphere of influence, and does not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
Q: Hong Kong media reported that most countries the Chinese far-sea naval formation will visit are related to the Belt and Road Cooperation Initiative. There are comments from a military expert that the purpose of the good-will visit of the Chinese naval formation is to convince its partners that the Belt and Road Initiative needs the support of a strong navy. What is your opinion?
A: The relevant comment by the expert is his personal view. The Chinese far-sea naval formation started its journey on April 23rd to pay good-will visits to more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania for nearly 180 days. This voyage is an important measure to further implement the important strategic thinking of President Xi Jinping in developing a new model of international relations and building a community of shared future for all mankind, and it is beneficial to promote the concept of harmony, spread peace and friendship, and deepen military cooperation.
Days ago, the formation just concluded its visit to Myanmar, during which a joint training exercise was held with the Myanmar Navy, which deepens the pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries and has positive impact on maintaining regional peace and stability and promoting the state-to-state and mil-to-mil relationships between China and Myanmar. Right now, the formation has arrived at Chittagong of Bangladesh for good-will visit, and it will conduct professional exchanges and a joint training exercise with the Bangladesh Navy.
As I said just now, the Belt and Road Cooperation Initiative does not contain military or geo-strategic intent. China does not seek regional dominance or the so-called sphere of influence, and does not interfere with other countries’ internal affairs.
Q: It was commented by Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida a couple of days ago that, to cope with the constant provocative acts by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan should have the support of a comprehensive missile defense system with sufficient capacity. According to media reports, Japan prefers to introduce the US-made land-based Aegis missile defense system rather than the THAAD system. What’s your comment?
A: We have noticed the relevant development. The Chinese side always thinks that the anti-missile issue is related to the strategic stability and the trust among countries and it should be treated with caution. Especially, due to historical reasons, moves of the Japanese side in the field of military and security have always drawn close attention of its Asian neighbors and of the international community. We think Japan should be prudent on the anti-missile issue .
Q: The Shangri-La Dialogue is to be held very soon. I want to ask who will head the Chinese delegation this year. The Japanese government spotted on the 18th this month a small UAV flying from the coastguard ship of the Chinese side in the adjacent waters of the Diaoyu Island. And the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force dispatched fighters immediately to cope with the situation. What is the purpose of the Chinese side to fly this small UAV and what is your comment on the action taken by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force?
A: China always attaches great importance to participate in international and regional multilateral security dialogues. This year, one leader from the Academy of the Military Sciences will lead the PLA delegation to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue. We are consulting with our foreign partner over the programme.
For your second question, we have noticed relevant report. The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have always been an inherent part of China’s territory since ancient times. And the relevant official activities of the Chinese side are within the sovereignty of China. The Chinese side maintains full-time monitoring over and will take necessary measures to cope with the relevant moves by the Japanese side.
Q: The US military accused days ago that a US reconnaissance plane was intercepted on May 17th by Chinese fighters in the international air space over the East China Sea. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense responded that the US military plane was conducting reconnaissance activities over the Yellow Sea and the Chinese pilots’ behavior was safe and professional. So, there are some discrepancies between the explanations of the incident offered by the two sides.
We all know that the WC-135 reconnaissance plane used to collect evidence of North Korea’s nuclear tests. Would you please confirm that what the US military plane did was not against North Korea but indeed a real close-in reconnaissance against China? Have China and the United States already settled the issue properly through diplomatic and military channels?
A: We have already released our comment on this event and what the US military said is not in accordance with the fact. On May 17th, a reconnaissance plane of the US military conducted reconnaissance activities in related air space over Chinese waters of the Yellow Sea. Chinese military aircraft conducted identification and verification of the US military plane based on law and regulation, and what we did was professional and safe.
The frequent close-in reconnaissance by the US military ships and planes is the root cause of maritime and air security problem between China and the US at sea and in the air. We hope the US side can stop relevant close-in reconnaissance activities against China and prevent such events from happening again.
Concerning the security risks brought by the frequent close-in reconnaissance by the US side, we have repeatedly expressed our stance clearly to the US side. In the future, we’ll continue to use relevant channels to communicate with the US side to eliminate potential risks which may trigger the security-related issues at sea and in the air between China and the US.
Q: Three days ago, an Indian air force’s Su-30 plane went missing somewhere close to the India-China border. The efforts to search for the plane and the two pilots so far have been futile, and no traces of the plane with two pilots have been found. The spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reacted to this yesterday. Do you have any additional information in this regard? Would the Chinese military like to provide assistance in the search operations to trace the plane and pilots? The second question is about the joint exercise between India and Singapore in the South China Sea. How does China’s military look at this?
A: Just as you said, my colleague from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already responded to your first question. We have always been keeping close attention to this situation.
We have also noticed the relevant reports mentioned in your second question. China always holds that the mil-to-mil exchange and cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability.
Q: Recently, Japanese media reported that China had already deployed the HQ-9 air defense missile systems on the Hainan Island. Accordingly, the Japanese media believed that China had already started its efforts to set up a “No-fly Zone” over the South China Sea. Could you please confirm that?
A: We have noticed the relevant reports. China’s deployment of weapons and equipment on the Hainan Island is totally within China’s sovereignty. The so-called “No-fly Zone” is pure fabrication by certain Japanese Media. It really surprises me how far it went in creating something out of nothing.
Q: According to a report by the New York Times on May 20th, since the year of 2010, a US CIA spy network has been crippled by the Chinese side. According to reports of Japanese media on May 22nd, six Japanese men suspected of espionage in China have been put into custody. What is your comment?
A: My colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have responded to the question you raised. I suggest that you refer to the competent authorities for further information. According to the Chinese law, any behavior that harms the Chinese national security will be punished according to law.
Q: The new President of the ROK, Mr. Moon Jae-in was elected to office recently and a special envoy from the ROK also visited China. The ice of China-ROK relationship is likely to break. So there might be a turning point for the solution of the THAAD issue. What is your comment?
A: China has stated its stance of opposition to the deployment of the THAAD system in the ROK on many occasions. The Chinese military will take necessary measures, resolutely safeguard national security and maintain peace and stability in the region.
Q: It is reported by the Defense Times that China has employed rocket launchers on China’s Yongshu Reef in the South China Sea. Could you please confirm that? What is the purpose of the deployment?
A: The Defense Times as you mentioned is not run by the Ministry of National Defense. What I’d like to emphasize here is that China’s construction of its islands and reefs in the South China Sea are within the sovereignty of China and besides necessary defense purpose, the relevant construction is mainly for civil use.
Q: According to the Russian media reports on May 22nd, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told the media several days ago that he was open to building a defense alliance and only China and Russia can be trusted. What is your comment?
A: We have noticed the relevant comments by President Duterte. The Chinese military attaches great importance to develop the mil-to-mil relationship with the Philippines.
Q: We noticed that, in 2012, China sent a vice president of the Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) to participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue, while, in recent years, the level was raised to the Deputy Chief of the General Staff. Out of what consideration do you send a leader of the AMS as the head of the delegation to attend the Dialogue this year?
A: As I said just now, the Chinese military attaches great importance to participate in regional and international multilateral security dialogues. It is a decision based on our work need to send a leader from the AMS to take part in the Dialogue this year.
Q: The PLA Daily recently reported that the interest accrual of the military housing provident fund has started since January 1st this year. Could you please brief us on this?
A: It was decided that the interest accrual of the military housing provident fund started from January 1st this year. The decision is based on relevant policies and regulations of the management of the state and military housing provident fund. It aims to enrich and perfect the policy of the military housing currency treatment and is a concrete measure to safeguard the legitimate interests of the officers and soldiers and to ensure that the officers and soldiers can enjoy the related treatment and policy over the housing provident fund as regulated by the state.
Q: Taiwan is now conducting the “Hanguang” military exercise, which for the first time simulates the aircraft carrier from mainland China launching a surprise attack on Taiwan from the east. And the leader of Taiwan, Miss Tsai Ing-wen inspected the exercise today and said that the Taiwan military could count on her. How does the Chinese military view the outcome of this exercise? And do you think it escalated the confrontation between the two sides across the Taiwan Straits?
A: The recognition of the 1992 Consensus and promotion of peaceful development of the cross-Straits relationship contribute to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits. The Taiwan separatist forces and their activities are the greatest threat to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Straits. Any attempt to resist reunification by force is doomed to fail.
Q: Since the beginning of this year, we haven’t seen any report about the disclosure of any “tiger” in the military for almost half a year. Is it because the corruption activities in the military have been contained or related information will be released at a certain time?
The second question is about the J-20 fighter. Since its debut at the Zhuhai Airshow last year, the J-20 fighter, China’s 4th generation stealth fighter jet, has been exposed on the Internet by netizens many times. What is the J-20 doing recently? Has it been formally put into military service in the PLA Air Force?
Thirdly, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the PLA is almost two months away. Will there be a military parade? Have you already started preparation for the event?
A: About Chinese military’s anti-graft efforts, we’ve expressed on many occasions our principles and stands. The Chinese military always insists on ruling the military according to law and in a strict manner. With the overall arrangement of the CPC Central Committee, the military is pushing forward its anti-graft efforts in an in-depth manner.
In recent years, the military has investigated and prosecuted a batch of major cases and promulgated a series of laws and regulations, established and perfected working mechanisms for the better coordination among the efforts in the areas of circuiting inspection, discipline inspection, auditing and judiciary, striving to build a system or a mechanism in which one has neither the courage or the ability nor the will to commit corruption. We are strengthening our cage of mechanism regulating the exercise of power and all these efforts are to provide a mighty support for building a stronger military.
For the second question, thank you for your attention to the national defense and military buildup. The J-20 is a new generation stealth fighter developed independently by China to meet the needs of future battlefield. Related work in the fields of R&D, experiment and test flight is proceeding according to plan. The J-20 will further improve the comprehensive combat capability of the Chinese Air Force and help the Chinese Air Force better fulfill its sacred mission of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
About the third question on military parade, not long ago my colleague already gave information and so far I don’t have any new information to offer.
Tomorrow will mark the two-year anniversary of the official Weibo and WeChat accounts of the Ministry of National Defense of the PRC, named Ministry of National Information Release.
We would like to express great gratitude to all the friends from the media and the public. It is your support and care that motivates us to move forward.
Here concludes this month’s regular press conference. Thank you!