Senior Colonel Wu Qian, deputy director of the Information Office of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) and spokesperson for the MND, answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on June 29, 2017. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)
(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 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) on this hot summer afternoon.
I will start today’s press conference with two pieces of announcement.
The first one is about the participation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police Force in the rescue and disaster relief work of the massive landslide in Mao County of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
At about 6 a.m. on June 24, a landslide struck the Diexi Town in Mao County of Aba Prefecture in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. President Xi Jinping and the Central Military Commission (CMC) attached great importance to the rescue work, and made prompt instructions and arrangements. The PLA and the Armed Police Force were deployed immediately in the rescue mission. Up to June 28, the PLA and the Armed Police Force have dispatched 1,070 personnel, mobilized over 160 militiamen, utilized two helicopter or Unnamed Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and 180 engineering vehicles on a daily basis. They have evacuated and relocated 720 victims and provided medical services to over 670 personnel. They also transported more than 100 tons of relief materials and searched 26,000 cubic meters of the collapse, and a total of 197,000 cubic meters of rubbles have been cleared. They have unblocked 2.6 kilometers of roads, and carried out epidemic prevention and decontamination operations over 13,000 square meters.
The second is about the PLA military bands to participate the International Military Tattoo commemorating the anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China.
At the invitation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, the Chinese PLA military band, the PLA Navy military band, the Honor Guards of the three services of the PLA and the PLA Hong Kong Garrison will participate in the military tattoo in mid-July, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to its motherland and the establishment of the HKSAR. Military bands from the U.S., Russia, the UK and other countries will also participate in the military tattoo.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: President Xi Jinping arrived at Hong Kong today, and is to participate in the commemorative activities that celebrate the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to its motherland. It is reported that, as part of the commemorative activities, China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning will also visit Hong Kong in July. Could you please confirm?
Answer: The 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to its motherland is also the 20th anniversary of PLA’s garrisoning in Hong Kong, which is worth celebrating and commemorating. The Liaoning task group will sail to Hong Kong during its training mission to celebrate the 20th anniversary of PLA’s garrisoning in Hong Kong. We will release information on detailed arrangements in due time.
Question: During its training mission, will the Liaoning aircraft carrier task group pass through the Taiwan Strait?
Answer: The training mission of the Liaoning aircraft carrier task group is a routine one within the annual training plan. Relevant information has been released by the PLA Navy recently and I have no more to add.
Question: It is reported that the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services deliberated and passed its National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 on June 28th. One of its terms is quoted as saying that the U.S. would reestablish regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at suitable ports in Taiwan and permit the U.S. Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwan. What is your comment on that?
Answer: We are always firmly opposed to any form of official contact and military interaction between Taiwan and the U.S. We urge the American side to abide by its commitment to the Chinese side with regard to the Taiwan issue, and stop military contacts with Taiwan, so as not to cause damage to the relations between the two militaries and the two countries as well as to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Question: We noticed that the CMC Vice Chairman Fan Changlong’s visit to Vietnam was suddenly cut short and the Chinese government has not given any reason for that. Could you please tell us why he left Hanoi earlier than expected? Is it due to the new tension between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea?
Answer: Your question has already been answered by the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Question: This month marks the college entrance exam season. The admission scheme of the military academies in different provinces and municipalities across the country in the year of 2017 has been released, which gives some ideas about the names of some of the military academies. Could you please brief us on the total number and respective names of such military academies after the reform?
Secondly, the online information shows that in mid- and late-June, the J-20 stealth fighter formation flew in the airspace in north China and some bombers and early warning aircraft were also seen. We wonder if they are related to the rehearsal for the alleged parade to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the PLA. The spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense mentioned previously that relevant information would be released in due course. I wonder if today is the right time to release such information.
Answer: This round of reform of the military academies adjusted the structure and layout of military education system, after which we have formed the overall setup of academies with joint operational universities as the core, specialized colleges of various arms as the foundation and civil-military integrated education as the supplement. Please refer to the screen for the list of the names of those academies .
There are 2 academies directly under the CMC, 35 of such institutes under the different services and arms, and 6 under the People’s Armed Police. There are in total 43 military academies. The complete list will be released on the official website and the social media accounts of the Ministry of National Defense.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding the PLA. The last nine extraordinary decades record a history of the diligent march forward under the leadership of the CPC, a history of serving the people with the resolute and capability to win, a history of starting from scratches to overcome powerful opponents with modest strength, and a history worth cherishing and commemorating. We will release the arrangements of such commemorative events as the preparation proceeds.
Question: Australian Prime Minister quoted a Chinese saying in his key-note speech during this year’s Shangri-la Dialogue, which is, big fish eat small fish and small fish eat shrimps. Some media believe that this, to some extent, reflects the current security situation in the Asia-Pacific region. What is your comment?
Answer: We do not agree with this comparison of the current security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region to the food chain of the law of the jungle. President Xi Jinping proposed the community of mankind of shared destiny and it has won wide praise from the international community. We believe that all countries are equal regardless of their sizes. A country should allow other countries to develop while seeking its own development. And a country should not seek its security at the cost of others’. China will never be the big fish that preys on the small fish and shrimps. Instead, we will strive to be the wild goose that leads all the countries to a bright future of peaceful development and win-win cooperation.
Question: There have been allegations by both the PLA and Indian military about incidents at the Sikkim sector of the India-China border in which China has alleged that Indian border troops crossed the border to prevent the construction of a road. Both sides have been holding talks on the issue at both the foreign ministry level and the defense ministry level. Do you have any comments on the progress of the talks? Bhutan has alleged that China actually violated its territory to build a road at the Doklam sector of the Sikkim region. The Indian military has also alleged that the PLA forces entered what was specified to be Indian side and destroyed some bunkers by using bulldozers. I would like to have your comments on these issues.
Answer: The Indian border defense personnel crossed the boundary at the Sikkim sector of the China-India border and entered the Chinese territory. They tried to stop the normal activity of the Chinese border defense troops in the Doklam region. The Chinese frontier defense troops have taken proportionate measures in response to firmly safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
When it comes to the second question, I have to correct you on the place where the incident took place. It is within the territory of China. We have made it clear to the Indian side that they should correct their mistakes and withdraw all the Indian personnel from the Chinese territory.
Question: Indian media reported on June 8th that Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat said that India is prepared for a “two and a half front war” against China, Pakistan and its internal security threats . What is your comment?
Answer: Such remarks from the Indian Army Chief are extremely irresponsible. We hope that particular individual in the Indian Army could learn lessons from the past and stop such dangerous clamor for war.
Question: The U.S. media recently reported that according to public video clips, a new-type of 35-ton light main battle tank (MBT) was seen during a recent military exercise conducted by a mechanized infantry brigade under the PLA Tibet Military Command on the Tibet Plateau. The tank guns have already been adjusted to a high angle for mountain operations, and the frontal protective ability of the gun turrets is better than that of the Type-96A tanks, and is far better than India’s Type-90s MBT. Could you please tell us more about the light tank? And is the deployment of the tanks in Tibet targeted at India?
Answer: Recently, a new-type of tank has undertaken trials on the Tibet Plateau. The trials were aimed to test the tank’s performance and are not targeted at any country.
Question: Chinese Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan went to Kazakhstan to attend the conference of defense ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states, during which he met with defense ministers of the SCO member states. According to media reports, during the meeting of the defense ministers between China and Russia, the two sides signed a roadmap of military cooperation. Could you please confirm this?
Answer: On June 7th, General Chang Wanquan, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister, met with his Russian counterpart, General Shoigu during the conference of defense ministers of the SCO member states. During their meeting, the two defense ministers signed the roadmap of the military cooperation between China and Russia from 2017 to 2020. Such roadmap has made a top design and overall planning for the military cooperation between China and Russia from 2017 to 2020. This reflects the high-level mutual strategic trust and strategic coordination between the two countries and is conducive to jointly working against new threats and new challenges in the security area and jointly maintaining regional peace and stability. In the next step, both sides will make implementation schemes for the pragmatic cooperation between the two militaries, so as to develop in a better and faster manner.
Question: We noticed that there were foreign media reports and news online saying that the second domestically-built aircraft carrier could be nuclear-powered. Could you please tell us more details?
Answer: We will consider various factors to make a comprehensive plan for the development of aircraft carrier.
Question：The 7th round of China-Japan high-level consultations on maritime affairs was held today in Fukuoka of Japan. What is China’s expectation for the consultations? Is there any progress on the establishment of the maritime and air liaison mechanism between the defense ministries of China and Japan?
Secondly, for the Chinese side, what are the achievements of the first diplomatic and security dialogue between China and the U.S. recently held in Washington D.C. ?
Answer: It is the consensus between leaders of the two countries to establish the maritime and air liaison mechanism between the defense ministries of China and Japan. It is conducive to the management and control of maritime and air crisis in the East China Sea, avoiding miscalculation and misjudgment as well as maintaining peace and stability of the East China Sea. So far, the two sides have reached some consensus.
The 7th round of China-Japan high-level consultations on maritime affairs is being held in Japan today. The “maritime and air liaison mechanism” is one of the topics in the consultations. We hope Japan meet China halfway and strive for an early launch of this mechanism.
On the second question, I remember I met you in Washington D.C. last week, and I’m glad to meet you again in Beijing. With the joint efforts of both sides, a number of achievements have been scored with multiple consensus reached at the first China-U.S. diplomatic and security dialogue. I’m willing to brief you on the achievements in the military area. Firstly, both sides share an understanding that the mil-to-mil relations are an important factor in the stabilization of the China-U.S. relations. Both sides are proactive in developing constructive, pragmatic and effective relations. The two sides have agreed to have a down-to-earth implementation of annual exchanges and cooperation programs, enhance high-level contacts to bring about the realization of the exchange of visits by the defense ministers of the two countries and visit to China by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. at an early date. Both sides have agreed to further deepen cooperation in such areas as the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-piracy and military medicine.
Secondly, the two sides reiterate the importance of building mutual understanding and reducing the risk of misjudgment by the two militaries. The two sides also reiterate their commitments to the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on confidence building measures, including the “mutual notification mechanism of major military operations”, “code of safe conduct for sea and air encounters”.
Thirdly, the two sides have decided to step up support for the United Nations peacekeeping operations, including rapid deployment of the UN peacekeeping forces and security support for the UN peacekeeping personnel. The two sides have agreed to conduct cooperation on strengthening peacekeeping capability construction of a third country in Africa, and work with the African partners to identify the main weak areas that require peacekeeping capability construction.
We look forward to working with the U.S. side to fully implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, push forward the expansion and upgrading of relations between the two militaries so as to develop in a pragmatic and effective manner.
Question: You mentioned just now that a number of consensus had been achieved during the first round of the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue between China and the U.S. What are the divergences between the two militaries? How does China view them?
Answer: Leaders from the two defense departments and the two militaries conducted face-to-face contacts during the dialogue, through which the two sides gained a clearer understanding of each other’s strategic intention and also discussed the principles and methods to further expand consensus, strengthen cooperation and handle divergence appropriately.
We came to the understanding that the consensus between the militaries of China and the U.S. far out-number divergences, far out-value divergences and are far greater than divergences. The consensus is of strategic, overall and long-term perspectives, and constitutes the mainstream in the development of the relationship between the two militaries.
We believe that we will be able to make the mil-to-mil relationship a stabilizer in the bilateral relations so long as the two sides make joint efforts to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of states, insist on handling problems with prudence and caution from the strategic height and long-term perspective, and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns.
Question: It is reported that China provided the Philippines with weapons on June 28th to help it fight against terrorism. Could you please confirm this and offer us more details? Will China continue to support the Philippines with more assistance?
Answer: Upon the request of the Philippine government, China’s Ministry of National Defense provided a batch of counter-terrorism assistance to the Philippine side which was delivered on June 28th.
The Chinese side has always been firmly opposed to any form of terrorism, and we are also opposed to any person who attempts to carry out or support terrorist activities in any name. China stands ready to work with regional countries including the Philippines to step up counter-terrorism cooperation and fight against terrorist threats.
Question: Yesterday a new type of destroyer, called type-055 by some, was launched in Shanghai. This type of destroyer is believed to play a key role in China’s aircraft carrier task force and in building a blue-water navy. Could you offer us more information on this?
Answer: This new type of destroyer is domestically designed, with a displacement of 10,000 tons. The destroyer uses a combined gas power system and has an integral system of radio frequency integration. It uses vertical launching system and has an integrated system on board for the operations and telecommunication.
I want to emphasize that the development of armament in China serves and is subject to the national defense policies and national security strategy. The development of offshore defense equipment will help China shoulder greater responsibilities and play a greater role in international operations such as the escort mission, and would also be conducive to maintaining peace and stability in the world. China’s defense policy which is defensive in nature and the active defense military strategy are clear-cut and will not change with the development of advanced weaponry.
Question: After his meeting with the Philippine Foreign Secretary today, Minister Wang Yi disclosed that China would strengthen cooperation with the Philippines to fight terrorism. Could you please give us more details such as the regions in the Philippines to be covered in the cooperation? It is reported that China plans to build a naval base in the Gwadar Port in Pakistan. Could you please confirm?
Answer: Please ask my colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for details about Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s meeting with the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines. The report about China’s plan to build a naval base in the Gwadar Port is pure speculation.
Question: The Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada mentioned during the Shangri-La Dialogue that she was deeply concerned about constructions for military purposes in the South China Sea after the “arbitration case”. She also announced that the freedom of navigation and over-flight must be maintained in the South China Sea. What is your comment on that?
Answer: I have three points to make. Firstly, there is no problem with the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea. Secondly, there is no problem with China’s freedom to carry out construction on its own territory. And thirdly, there is a problem with Japan’s freedom to intervene into the South China Sea issue as an extra-regional country, and the problem is a big one.
Question: Does the PLA have a plan to conduct the “Peace Mission” joint military exercise with the SCO member states this year? If so, what will be the participating forces of the Chinese side? And what will be new as compared with the previous exercises?
Answer: According to our practice, the “Peace Mission” multilateral counter-terrorism joint military exercise is a biennial arrangement within the SCO framework. As the last exercise was held in Kyrgyzstan in September, 2016, there is no plan for such a joint exercise in 2017.
Question: According to media reports, the Liaoning aircraft carrier is to visit Hong Kong in July, and the Japanese Izumo helicopter carrier is also sailing in the South China Sea now. The possibility of the two carriers encountering by chance stimulates Japan’s sensitive nerve. Some of Japanese experts even claimed that the Izumo could sink the Liaoning aircraft carrier within half an hour. What is your comment?。
Answer: It’s nonsense.
Question：Since you mentioned the recruitment of military academies, new military cadets will enter academies as the admission work proceeds. I wonder what the spokesperson would say to them.
Answer: This is quite a change of topics (reporters laugh). I myself am a graduate from a military institute. More than two decades ago, I was one of them.
There are thorns and roses in the life on military campuses, and all things will not go smoothly. The volume of study, the hard training, the strict discipline and the austere life could be quite intimidating sometimes. But, never give up.
You fight yourself to grow up. Overcome yourself and you will be rewarded with outstanding competence and a strong physique as well as the brotherhood of your comrades in arm and sense of responsibility for your family and country. After all, your life means more than just yourself. I believe that the youth, the best time in your life, should shine with your country and the times that you live in.
Here comes to the end of today’s regular press conference. The day after tomorrow is July 1st, the anniversary of the founding of the CPC. Let’s offer our birthday wishes to the CPC. Thank you!