(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang: Good afternoon, 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 have three pieces of information to announce at the beginning.
The first piece of news is about the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops’ disaster relief work in the flood-striken areas.
Many places in China have been struck by floods since the flood season started. The Party Central Committee, the State Council, and the Central Military Commission (CMC) have paid great attention to the situation. Chinese President Xi Jinping has made important instructions to firmly hold a people-centered mind, fulfill their responsibilities, prevent disasters and protect people’s lives and properties with full efforts.
Officers and men of the PLA and the People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF) resolutely implement the important instructions made by President Xi, take disasters as orders, and spare no efforts to prevent and fight against floods. By July 25, 14,212 officers and soldiers, 56,017 militia and reserves have been deployed. 979 machines and vehicles, 91 ships have been used, and 4 sorties of helicopters have been made to help disaster relief and typhoon prevention. Up to 56,123 people have been transferred and rescued, 271 tons of materials transported, 6,250 meters of tunnels dredged, and 15,958 meters of dams fortified.
Now the officers and soldiers are fighting at the front line with all strength. They will resolutely complete the task entrusted by the Party and the people.
The second piece of news is about the Chinese PLA Peace Train medical troops' participation in the emergency rescue mission in Attapeu Province of Laos.
On the evening of July 23, a dam collapsed in Lao’s southern Attapeu Province, causing a large number of casualties, hundreds missing and thousands affected. At the request of the Laotian Ministry of National Defense and with the authorization of Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as the Party’s Central Military Commission, the Chinese PLA Peace Train medical team, which was conducting the Peace Train 2018 humanitarian medical assistance and medical service joint training in Vientiane, Laos, took fast actions on July 25, and dispatched 32-member medical contingent for rescue and assistance to the stricken-area. The first batch of 26 personnel arrived in Attapeu Province on the night of July 25 with portable emergency facilities and medicines via Laos’ military aircraft. Upon arriving, the medical contingent coordinated with the Laotian military to get a clearer understanding of the situation, worked on deployment and task distribution, and conducted joint rescue with Laotian medical teams immediately. The second batch of 6 personnel took one ambulance with high mobility and 1 epidemic prevention vehicle to the stricken area through highway on July 26. The rest of the Chinese medical team are ready for assistance and rescue at any time, based on the situation of stricken-area.
The third piece of news is about the Asia-Pacific Military Health Exchange 2018 co-hosted by China and the US.
According to the plan, the Chinese PLA and the US military will co-host the Asia-Pacific Military Health Exchange 2018 from September 17 to 21 in Xi’an of China’s Shanxi Province. The theme of the annual meeting is “Challenges and Solutions: Strengthening Global Health”, including 6 types of topics, namely, support operations, rising challenges, total force health, performance optimization, preventive medicine, and service component exchanges.
About 600 military representatives from 28 countries including China, the US, Thailand, Singapore, and from 3 international organizations, namely, the United Nations (UN), the International Red Cross and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Center for Military Medicine, will participate in the Exchange.
This Exchange is a grand gathering in the field of military medicine in the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to provide an academic platform for military healthcare team members from across the Asia-Pacific region in fields of disaster management, medical preparation and military health care, and to promote exchanges and cooperation among different armed forces in medical service, clinical research, education, training and prevention.
It is the first time for the Chinese PLA and the US military to co-host this event in China. Some new-type medical equipment of the PLA will also be displayed in the Exchange, including some large-size equipment in active service such as sanitary trains, hospital ships, sanitary planes, medical shelters and so on.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: During the regular press conference last month, the spokesperson mentioned that the counter-terrorism joint military exercise among member states’ militaries of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was to be held in Russia in August. Could you please brief us on the latest development? Recently, the US Congress has reached a compromise on the draft bill of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. The draft bill urges to take a tough stance toward China, calls for confrontation with China in several fields, and suggests the US strengthen military ties with Asia-Pacific countries, including the Taiwan region. May I have your comment on that?
Answer: The SCO will hold the Peace Mission 2018 joint military drill from August 22 to 29 in No. 255 Comprehensive Training Field in Chebarkul, Chelyabinsk, Russia. The theme of the drill is “Preparation and Cooperation on Counter-terrorism Among SCO Member States’ Militaries”. The main subjects include field reconnaissance, joint fire strike, counter-terrorism operations in residential settlements. The PLA will send 743 officers and men to participate. This is a routine military drill within the framework of the SCO, which has been playing a positive role in deepening defense and security cooperation among member states, enhancing capacity in tackling new threats and challenges and also safeguarding regional peace and stability.
On the second question, we have noted relevant information. What needs to be stressed is that Taiwan is an integral part of China. We firmly oppose any official contacts and military exchanges in any form between any country and Taiwan. This position is clear and consistent. There is no way out only relying on other countries and any attempt to make use of Taiwan to contain China is doomed to failure. We urge the US side to keep its commitment to One-China Policy and relevant propositions in the three joint communiqués between China and US and handle Taiwan-related issues properly and cautiously so as not to harm the state-to-state and the mil-to-mil relationship between China and the US and the cross-strait peace and stability.
Question: According to media reports, Lieutenant General Liu Xiaowu, Deputy Commander of the PLA Western Theater Command, led a delegation to visit India recently. What consensus and achievement have been made during the visit? Secondly, it seems that the enrollment of the military academies this year is not that satisfied. What is the real situation and how do you comment on the situation? Thirdly, the “Seaborne Assault” competition of the International Army Games 2018 hosted by the PLA Navy for the first time in Quanzhou, a coastal city in east China’s Fujian province, will kick off on July 29, two days before August 1, the 91st Anniversary of the Founding of the PLA. What is the significance for the PLA Navy to choose Quanzhou as the venue of the “Seaborne Assault” competition?
Answer: On your first question, Lieutenant General Liu Xiaowu, Deputy Commander of the PLA Western Theater Command, led a frontier defense delegation to visit India from July 2 to 6. During the visit, Liu talked and met with relevant leaders of the Army, the East Theater Command and its affiliated troops of the Indian Armed Forces. The two sides agreed to implement the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, to enhance managements and control along the border, to expand joint training and exercise at tactical level, to strengthen cultural and sports interaction between border troops, and to maintain peace and stability in border areas together.
When it comes to the second question, according to competent authority, this year’s number of students signing up for the entrance examination of the military academies saw a steady rise compared with previous years. A large number of excellent young students will join the rank of the PLA. We appreciate the care and attention given by the people to the military development and the military college recruitment; I suggest you pay more attention to the news release by authorized departments.
On the third question, according to our knowledge, the PLA Navy chose Quanzhou as the competition venue because the training range and water environment there are in line with the requirements of the competition.
Question: The “International Army Games – 2018” will be formally kicked off on July 28. What are the highlights of the games?
Answer: The “International Army Games -2018” will begin on July 28. This is the fifth year for the Chinese military to participate in the games and the second year to host the games. There are many highlights in this year’s games compared to those in previous years.
First, many competitions will be joined or hosted by the Chinese military. The Chinese military will host and participate in 4 competitions in China, and also participate in 18 competitions in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. So, the Chinese military will join and host a total of 22 competitions.
Second, many foreign teams will participate in the competitions hosted in China. Teams from 10 countries such as Russia, Belarus and Pakistan, and an observing delegation from Armenia, have arrived at Korla competition area in Xinjiang and Quanzhou competition area in Fujian. All the preparation work has been completed.
Third, the Chinese military will use a lot of equipment from foreign militaries. Now, 18 teams from the Chinese PLA Army and Air Force have all arrived at the competition areas abroad. The PLA Army teams will participate in 16 competitions abroad. They will use their own equipment in 9 competitions, and use foreign militaries’ equipment in 7 competitions.
Forth, many types of aircraft of the PLA Air Force will participate. The Chinese PLA Air Force will send 5 types of aircraft to participate in the competitions abroad, including H-6K, J-10A, FB-7A, IL-76 and Y-9, among which, it will be the first time for H-6K and Y-9 to participate in competitions abroad.
Fifth, it is the first time for Chinese military academies to send their own teams to participate. The two NCO schools of the PLA Army Armour Academy and the PLA Army Engineering University will both send respective teams to participate in the games for the first time.
We believe that the Chinese military will host the games with a high standard, participate in the games at a high level, compete with and learn from other militaries on the international military arena, and demonstrate the Chinese military's sound image as a mighty and civilized force.
Question: According to the Taiwan media, the so-called Taiwan’s defense ministry said that, from July 20 to 21, a total of nearly 50 ships of the PLA Navy passed through the Taiwan straits at high speed. The Taiwan media speculated that this move was to guard against typhoon. What is your comment on that?
Answer: The PLA has recently organized live-fire confrontational exercises in relevant waters and airspace. It is a normal arrangement for the ships of the PLA Navy to navigate through the Taiwan Straits. There is no need to overinterpret.
Question: The 91st anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is around the corner. Is the Ministry of National Defense going to hold any activities in celebrations of the 91st anniversary?
Answer: Thank you for your attention to the PLA. Several days later, we will celebrate the 91st Anniversary of the Founding of the PLA. The CPC founded the people’s army 91 years ago. Under the leadership of the party, the people’s army has made immortal feats to the revolution, construction and reform of China over the past 91 years. To celebrate the anniversary, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense will hold a reception on July 31 in the Great Hall of the People. General Wei Fenghe, member of CMC, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense will host the reception and deliver a speech. Approximately 1,000 people will attend this reception, including members of CMC, leaders of CMC departments and other major departments stationed in Beijing, comrades from CPC Central Committee and state organs, representatives from retired military officers, heroes and others from all walks of life, as well as foreign military attachés.
To celebrate the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army we have made a special video named PLA Today 2018. It shows the heroic people’s army remains true to its original aspiration, keeps its mission firmly in mind,, unswervingly stick to the path of building a strong military with Chinese characteristics, and push forward the cause of strengthening and revitalizing the military. We will upload the video on the official website and Weibo of the Ministry of National Defense at the end of the conference. You are welcome to watch it.
Question: The Chinese Ministry of National Defense invited military delegates from 50 African countries and the African Union to attend the First China-Africa Defense and Security Forum from June 26 to July 7 in Beijing. May I have your comment on this forum? According to Indian media, the Sagarmāthā Friendship-II joint training between the PLA and the Nepalese army is to be held in Chengdu from September 17. Do you have any information to brief us on the joint training?
Answer: With regards to your first question, China and Africa have always been a community of shared future. The First China-Africa Defense and Security Forum, hosted by the Ministry of National Defense, was successfully held to implement the important consensuses reached by President Xi and African state leaders. This forum has three features. First, it is the reflection of the consensuses to build a China-Africa community of shared future. Senior delegates from 50 African countries and the African Union spoke highly of the idea of building a community of shared future for mankind. Second, it expresses a positive will to jointly safeguard peace and stability in Africa, which marks a good beginning for China-Africa defense and security cooperation in the new era. Third, it demonstrates a broad prospect for China-Africa defense and security cooperation and discuss the fields to deepen practical cooperation and the approaches to them.
According to the mil-to-mil engagement plan between the PLA and Nepalese army, the two sides are planning to hold counter-terrorism drill in China within this year. Currently, the two sides are still in consultation on details of the joint training.
Question: Days ago, during the live-fire subject jointly conducted by the U.S., Japan and Australia’s participating troops in the RIMPAC 2018, the USS Racine, a US Navy landing ship retired 25 years ago with a displacement of 5100 tons, was targeted and sank. After the video was exposed, some foreign media thought the drill was a rehearsal of a combat with China. May I have your comment on that?
Answer: We have noticed relevant reports. It is China’s consistent position that the military cooperation among relevant countries should not target any other countries and should be conducive to the regional peace and stability.
Question: The sign-up of the Chinese military’s social recruitment of civilian staff this year has ended. How is the sign-up? This year’s social recruitment mainly targets civilian staff for professional and technical posts below intermediate level. What are the considerations on that? Will there be any change in next year’s recruitment? On July 18, the Lianyungang Maritime Affairs Bureau issued a notice, saying that there were unexploded bombs in the sea area near Lianyungang and reminding passing ships to avoid it. Please brief us on it.
Answer: On your first question, thank you for your attention to the recruitment of civilian staff. As far as we know, the relevant departments of the Chinese military will release information in due course according to the recruitment process. On your second question, it is learned that recently, during a routine drill organized by the PLA Navy in sea area near Lianyungang, a faulty bomb sank into the sea. According to the experts’ evaluation, it is preliminarily confirmed that the faulty bomb is in invalid state. The relevant departments have publicly issued the navigational warning according to international practices. Currently, the PLA Navy is removing the faulty bomb. After the clearance is completed, a sailing notice will be issued by the maritime affairs department.
Question: According to Russian media, China has completed the procurement of S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia. What is your comment on that?
Answer: China and Russia have been forging a strategic partnership of comprehensive coordination and have maintained close exchanges in military technology cooperation. As for the program you mentioned, it has achieved phased results and is now progressing smoothly as planned.
Question: I have three questions. First, according to the Indian media reports, Chinese defense minister Gen. Wei Fenghe is to visit India. Please confirm. Second, could you please update us on the preparation of China-Russia maritime drill? Third, will the domestic aircraft carrier conduct a second sea trial in the near future?
Answer: At the invitation of Indian Defense Minister Sitaraman, General Wei Fenghe, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense of China plans to pay a friendly official visit to India within this year. Currently, the two defense establishments are discussing the details. Information will be released in due time. I have no comment on your second question. For your third question, China’s second aircraft carrier conducted a successful sea trial in mid-May, and the relevant follow-up experiments will be carried out according to the working progress.
Question: Recently, it has been reported that more than 100 thousand people have signed up for the civilian staff recruitment exam. What changes will it bring to the development of the PLA？
Answer: I understand your question is about the impact of the reform on civilian staff on China’s national defense and military building. The reform on civilian staff is an important measure to implement Xi Jinping thought on building a strong military, and a major achievement in promoting innovation on military human resources system, which has important implications on China’s national defense and military building. Firstly, it is conducive to remolding Chinese military strength system, optimizing the military structure and promoting its modernization. Secondly, it is conducive to building a team of high-caliber and specialized military talents, and to freeing our officers and men from non-combat positions. Thirdly, it is conducive to improving the management of civilian staff and enhancing combat capabilities. Fourthly, it is conducive to military-civilian integration. It offers a good platform for all talents to make their own contributions to national defense and the country as a whole.
Question: Days ago, the US former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in his speech in Taiwan that Taiwan will play an important role in the Indo-Pacific strategy of the US, claiming that there is a large space for military cooperation between the US and Taiwan. What is your comment on that?
Answer: We have noticed relevant reports. I’d like to reiterate and stress that Taiwan is part of China，and the Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it is the most important and most sensitive core issue in the China-US relations. We firmly oppose any official contacts and military exchanges in any form between any country and Taiwan. We urge the US side to keep its commitment to the ”one-China” principle and provisions of the three Joint Communiqués between China and the US, and to stop making irresponsible remarks and taking provocative actions, so as not to harm the state-to-state and mil-to-mil relations between China and the US and cross-straits peace and stability.
The Taiwan side should also be fully aware of the situation that there is no way out to rely on foreign countries, and it should give up the “Taiwan independence” fantasy and confrontational mentality, and do more things to improve the relations between the mainland and Taiwan. The PLA will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Question: According to reports, the price of the two sets of land-based Aegis missile defense systems introduced by Japan have risen to $5.4 billion in total. The Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said it was the necessary equipment and Japan would continue to push the deployment. What’s your comment?
Answer: Due to the historical reasons and given the current situation, Japan's military moves are highly alarming to its Asian neighbours and the international community. We hope Japan will act prudently in building its military capabilities and do more things conducive to regional peace and stability.
Here concludes today’s press conference. Thank you.