Defense Ministry's Regular Press Conference on August 31

Source:Ministry of National Defense Editor:Zhang Tao 2017-08-31

Senior 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 August 31, 2017. ( by Li Xiaowei )
(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 Ren Guoqiang: Friends from the media, welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I do not have any information to announce at the top.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Question: What role did the Chinese military play in resolving the Dong Lang incident? What measures will the military take to safeguard national sovereignty as well as national interests and rights?

Answer: Since the Dong Lang incident happened, the Chinese military has closely monitored the development of the situation. Not a single moment have we forgotten our responsibility of safeguarding our motherland and upholding peace. Not in a single moment have we relented in our targeted preparation for military struggle. We took on-site emergency response measures, strengthened border control, pushed forward operational deployment and enhanced targeted training so as to firmly safeguard territorial integrity, national sovereignty and our legitimate rights and interests. At the same time, through military diplomacy and border defense exchange channels, we lodged numerous representations with the Indian military and played an important role for the proper settlement of the Dong Lang incident. The Chinese military will continue to carry out its missions and responsibilities, beef up patrol and troop station in the Dong Lang area and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security.

Question: Four major accidents have taken place involving the U.S. Pacific Fleet since the beginning of this year. According to foreign media reports, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the U.S. Pacific Air Force Commander, said on August 25 that the recent accidents in the Asia-Pacific region would not interrupt U.S. military’s “freedom of navigation” activities in the South China Sea. What is your comment?

Secondly, the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula has deteriorated. Japan has announced that it would import the land-based Aegis missile defense system, and the Republic of Korea(ROK) is trying to speed up the deployment of the THAAD system. The U.S. Secretary of Defense and the Defense Minister of the ROK also talked about, in their meetings, the deployment of tactic nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula. And the U.S. wants to take the opportunity to push forward its nuclear restructuring scheme. All these have combined to have a certain impact on China’s security environment, and people are afraid that an arms race may be triggered in the region. What’s your comment on that?

Answer: We are as always opposed to the so-called “freedom of navigation” activities conducted by the U.S. military in the South China Sea. We are deeply concerned about the frequent occurrence of severe safety accidents involving the U.S. Navy ships, which poses great negative impacts on the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea.

When it comes to your second question, the Chinese side stays committed to the goal of denuclearization, upholding peace and stability on the peninsula and resolving the issue through peaceful means of dialogue and negotiation. We firmly opposes any trouble-making or trouble-provoking actions at the doorstep of China, definitely allow no war or chaos on the peninsula, and strongly urge that all relevant parties would exercise restraint instead of provoking each other and escalating regional tensions.

On the deployment of the THAAD system by the U.S. and the ROK as you mentioned, our position is consistent and clear. China is resolutely opposed to such deployment and the Chinese military will take necessary measures to safeguard national security as well as regional peace and stability.

Question: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the other day that the Chinese border defense troops continued with patrolling and stationing in the Dong Lang area. Could you tell us how they would do that specifically?

Answer: Dong Lang is China’s inherent territory. We will never give up each inch of the beautiful mountains and rivers of our motherland. The Chinese armed forces will firmly carry out its sacred mission of safeguarding territorial sovereignty and protect every inch of the land in the Dong Lang area.

Question: Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited China recently. What are the consensus that has been reached between the two sides during Dunford’s China tour? We have taken noticed that General Dunford, while wearing combat uniforms, visited the PLA’s Northern Theater Command which borders the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Is it a signal that China and the U.S. will join hands to oppose the nuclear program of the DPRK and deal with the crisis on the Korean Peninsula?

Answer: General Dunford’s visit to China was an important program within the annual exchange plan between the two militaries. The main purpose of the visit was to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, and push forward the development of mil-to-mil relationship between China and the U.S. In a sustained, sound and stable manner. The media has provided extensive coverage about the specifics of the visit.

On the DPRK nuclear issue, China stays committed to the goal of denuclearization, upholding peace and stability on the peninsula and resolving the issue through peaceful means of dialogue and negotiation. It is our position that military means cannot be an option for resolving the issue. Especially under the current circumstance, relevant parties should keep restraint to avoid increasing tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Question: Recently, a short video has been circulating in Chinese micro-blog and WeChat, showing suspected encounter between the frontier defense troops of China and India near the Bangong Lake. What is your comment?

Secondly, some Indian media reported that India ended the standoff in the Dong Lang area because there was a deal struck between India and China, in which China provides a $20 billion subsidized loan to India and agrees to withdraw troops bilaterally and stop the road construction. Please confirm.

Answer: On your first question, we have noticed the video that you mentioned, and my colleague from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already responded to this question. Here I’d like to stress that the Indian side should enforce strict discipline on its border defense troops and abide by the agreement between two countries so as to maintain peace and stability in border areas.

We have checked with relevant department of the Chinese government about China providing loans to India in exchange for the withdrawal of their troops. Such a report is a pure fabrication.

And about the infrastructure construction in the Dong Lang area, China has made clear the position repeatedly. The result of the Dong Lang incident was that all the illegally crossing personnel and equipment of the Indian side have been withdrawn to the Indian side, and Chinese troops continue to station and patrol the Dong Lang area. China has long been carrying out infrastructure building, including roads, in the Dong Lang area to meet the needs of guarding the border and to improve the living and working conditions of the troops stationed there and people living there. Taking into account various factors like the weather, we will make proper building plans in light of the actual situation.

Question: Macao was hit by Typhoon Hato on August 23, and the disaster situation in Macao was very grave. The PLA Garrison in Macao has played a key role in the post-disaster reconstruction and reassuring the Macao citizens, which has been widely commended. Do you have any general review of the Macao Garrison’s participation in the disaster relief efforts?

Answer: On August 23, Typhoon Hato, the 13th of this year, made landfall right in Macao causing severe casualties and property loss. According to the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region and the Garrison Law, at the request of the government of the Macao Special Administrative Region(SAR)and approved by the Chinese Central Government, the PLA Garrison in Macao, following the order of the Central Military Commission, assisted the government of Macao SAR in disaster relief. The officers and soldiers of the Macao Garrison worked tirelessly in spite of danger, and cleaned up 11 districts with a total area of 1,076,000 square meters, and 120,500 meters of streets, and transported more than 700 trucks of rubbish. After successful completion of their task, they returned to the barracks at 8 a.m. on August 28.

This is the first time for the PLA Macao Garrison to provide assistance in disaster relief to the Macao SAR since Macao’s return to the motherland. The Garrison and the Macao SAR government worked together to mitigate the damage and impact of the typhoon so as to restore order for the life and work of the Macao society, and received praises from all walks of life in Macao.

Question: Now, the Dong Lang incident has been resolved. When will China hold the annual routine joint military drill with India? There is news saying that the joint drill has been put off in view of the Dong Lang incident. Is there any timetable for the joint drill?

Answer: The mil-to-mil relationship is an important component of the overall bilateral relationship between China and India. The two defense establishments and the two armed forces should further strengthen strategic communication, avoid misjudgment and misunderstanding, and push forward healthy development of the mil-to-mil relationship. Needless to say, this requires joint efforts from both sides and is in accordance with the common interests of both sides. As to the joint military drill between China and India that you mentioned, I need to check it.

Question: On August 29, the DPRK launched a missile near Pyongyang which flew over the airspace of northern Japan and landed into the Pacific east of Hokkaido. Both the Japanese and the ROK governments claimed that they were well prepared to deal with the threat from the DPRK. What is your comment on DPRK’s frequent launches of missiles? According to the U.S. media, the U.S. diverted more resources to its development of nuclear arsenals and missile defense systems. Some critics warned that this may trigger a new round of nuclear arms race and force China and Russia into stepping up its development of weapons. What is your comment?

Answer: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded to your first question. I do not have any further information to offer.

On your second question, we have noticed reports about the U.S. strengthening its development of nuclear arsenal and missile defense systems. It is our constant position that major countries in the world shoulder especially important and prioritized responsibilities in maintaining global strategic stability. And we have always upheld that countries should respect and take into consideration the security needs of other countries and seek to achieve common security rather than place one’s own security on top of that of other countries.

Question: In mid August, the International Army Games (IAG) - 2017 has successfully completed at various competition sites. Could you please brief us on the results and gains of the Chinese side?

Answer: From July 29 to August 12, the Chinese military took part in the International Army Games - 2017 initiated by Russia. This is the fourth time the Chinese military has taken part in the IAG and the first time for the PLA to host some of the IAG competitions in China.

The PLA Army, Navy and Air Force teams took part in 14 competitions, and won 9 champions and 5 runner-ups in team events as well as 26 first places in individual events, which demonstrates fully the achievements the PLA has attained in the development of the services and military training. Competing in the IAG has helped enhance the friendship between the PLA with the other participating militaries and strengthen exchanges in military training.

Question: You have mentioned that the Chinese border defense troops continue to patrol the Dong Lang area after the settlement of the Dong Lang incident. Does it mean that the Indian side has withdrawn its troops unilaterally and the Chinese side is still maintaining its previous deployment? Is this deployment consistent with the previous consensus reached between China and India?

Answer: We have stated our position on this issue on many occasions. The Indian side has pulled back all of its trespassing personnel and equipment to the Indian side of the boundary. The Chinese border defense troops continue to patrol and station in the Dong Lang area. In light of the changing landscape on the ground, the Chinese side has made necessary adjustments and deployment. The Chinese border defense troops will continue fulfilling the sovereignty rights to safeguard territorial sovereignty in compliance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty.

Question: Since May 20, 2016, times for the PLA aircraft’s circling Taiwan have been constantly increasing. Especially in mid August this year, there were three times of such kind of military maneuvers within one week. Thus, some media in Taiwan said that the Mainland China is preparing to attack the Taiwan island, and others called on the Mainland China to exercise restraint and calm. Would you please brief us on this? Will such kind of operations become institutionalized in the future?

Secondly, the DPRK recently launched missiles for several times and there were foreign reports saying that the Northern Theater Command of the PLA had beefed up its alert level. Could you please confirm that? Has the Chinese military made preparation for dealing with possible threats due to DPRK’s provocative activities?

Answer: On your first question, as for the Chinese military aircraft’s training exercises you have mentioned, we have learned that such operations are routine training conducted by the PLA Air Force.

On your second question, China’s policy and position on the Korean Peninsula is consistent and clear, and there is no need for me to repeat here. However, I’d like to stress that along the China-DPRK border, the Chinese frontier defense troops are maintaining normal status of combat readiness and they are conducting normal training.

Question: On August 28, the 20th Defense Strategic Dialogue was held between the militaries of China and Australia. The two sides exchanged views on the mil-to-mil relations as well as other security issues in the region. Could you please brief us on the agreement reached between the two sides during the dialogue?

Answer: On August 28, Shao Yuanming, Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission of China, Ray Griggs ,Vice Chief of the Defense Force and Rebecca Skinner, Deputy Secretary of the Defense Force of Australia, co-chaired the 20th Defense Strategic Consultation. The media have covered extensively on the details of the dialogue.

Question: Could you please tell us whether there will be a new spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense so as to restore the previous structure of three spokespersons?

Secondly, according to media reports, China has been developing in its domestically-built aircraft carrier by leaps and bounds. From the start of construction to its launching, the production period of the home-made aircraft carrier is nearly half of that for the same type of aircraft carrier built by other countries. It is reported that the domestically-built aircraft carrier has entered the dockside trial phase in advance after only five months since its launching. I’m wondering whether the quality of the aircraft carrier can be guaranteed. Will the aircraft carrier be commissioned with potential flaws?

Answer: First of all, thank you for the attention to our work. I think you will know the answer to your first question in due time.

The building of China’s first home-made aircraft carrier is in steady progress according to the plan. At present, it is undergoing the system debugging and outfitting, and the comprehensive dockside trial will start soon.

Question: A couple of days ago, the U.S. conducted a test of sea-based anti-missile interception. A “Standard Missile-6” intercepted a target at sea successfully. Some scholars analyzed that the simulated missile target of the U.S.’ anti-missile interception test is China’s DF-21D missile. How would you comment on this? The second question is that according to some recent media reports, China may have successfully developed new strategic bombers. Could you please brief us on the relevant progress?

Answer: On your first question, the issue of missile defense is related to the global strategic stability. Countries, especially the world's major countries, should carefully deal with the issue of missile defense by starting from maintaining global strategic stability and enhancing strategic mutual trust among countries, and avoid putting its own security interests on top of other countries. On your second question, I do not have any information to offer here.