By Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, Deputy Director General of the Information Office of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND
Question: The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been successfully held in Beijing from October 26 to 29, which has drawn both national and global attention. The committee deliberated and approved the CPC Central Committee's proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035，drafting a new blueprint for China's development in the next 5 and 15 years. Could you please brief us on the efforts of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police (PAP) to study and implement the spirit of the Fifth Plenary Session?
Answer: The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee is an important meeting of comprehensive influence and historic significance that was convened at a critical period when China is about to enter a new stage of development and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. During the meeting, the committee heard and discussed a work report delivered by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee on behalf of the Political Bureau, and deliberated and approved the CPC Central Committee's proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. The document is an embodiment of the visionary insights and the historic responsibility taken by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core for the future of the country, which puts forward the guiding principles, objectives, tasks and strategic measures for China's development in the forthcoming years. It is of great and far-reaching significance to mobilizing and motivating the whole Party and the whole nation to make good use of the important period of strategic opportunities to fully build a modern socialist country.
In accordance with the arrangement of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC), all members of the PLA and the PAP have been involved in an upsurge of learning shortly after the plenum. The military delegation interpreting the spirit of the Fifth Plenary Session has launched thematic briefings for the CMC organs and the major military units since early and mid-November. The CPC organizations of the military units at all levels have held learning sessions and discussions on substantive implementation of the spirit.
During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, China's defense and military have greatly developed under the strong leadership of President Xi and the CMC. Major reform in the organizational structure of the military has been carried though, breaking new grounds for building a strong military. All service members are inspired and motivated. Based on the profound understanding of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the unprecedented changes of the world unseen in a century, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC makes strategic plans for accelerating defense and military modernization, and aligning national and military development drives. The session provides a sound and fundamental guidance for the people's military to achieve a major step forward in defense and military modernization during the 14th Five-Year Plan period and ensure the achievement of the military's centenary goal by 2027.
All service members, full of enthusiasm and confidence, will unswervingly follow the Party's absolute leadership, carry forward the spirit of struggle, improve combat skills, and resolutely fulfil the commitment to effectively accomplish their tasks in the new era entrusted by the Party and the people, known as the four strategic supports.
To study and implement the spirit of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee is an important political task both at present and in the period to come. Members of the PLA and the PAP will continue to take Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guidance, thoroughly implement Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military and the military strategic guideline for a new era, think and act in strict accordance with the spirit of the session, gather wisdom and strength to implement the objectives and tasks set in the session, and endeavor to create opportunities amidst crisis and changes. We will accelerate the integrated development of a mechanized, informationized and intelligent military, strengthen military training in all units and step up military preparedness across the board, with a view to improving the strategic capability to defend national sovereignty, security, and development interests. We will work to ensure the achievement of the military's centenary goal by 2027, and make unremitting efforts to realize the 14th Five-Year Plan and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, win new victories in building a modern socialist country in an all-round way, safeguard world peace, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Question: The Guidelines on Joint Operations of the People's Liberation Army (Trial) has been promulgated as the reform of military policies and institution unfolds. Please brief us on the underlying considerations.
Answer: The Guidelines on Joint Operations of the People's Liberation Army (Trial) (hereinafter referred to as "the guidelines") recently issued by the CMC with the approval of President Xi Jinping, also chairman of the CMC, has come into effect since November 7, 2020. Being the capstone of the combat doctrines system in the new era, the guidelines has a leading, overarching and fundamental standing, and forms an integral part of the reform of military policies and institutions. The promulgation of the guidelines is a response to the major changes in various aspects. First, the changes in China's security environment. Hegemonism, power politics, and unilateralism are on the rise, and terrorist and separatist activities remain rampant. National security of the country faces new challenges and threats. Second, the changes in modern warfare. The development of precision, intelligent, stealth and unmanned weapons accelerates, and joint operations have become the basic combat form. Third, the changes in the organizational structure of China's armed force. Reforms in the leadership and command system, size, structure and force composition of China's defense and armed forces have basically completed, bringing the development of our joint operations capabilities to a new stage. As the primary guidance for military operations and training, a combat doctrine must accommodate these changes.
To thoroughly implement Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military and the military strategic guideline for a new era, the Chinese military promulgates the guidelines in conformity with the overall arrangement of the reform of military policies and institutions to tackle the new situations and new problems of joint operations. Efforts have been made to combine valued experience and creative approaches, and fit theories into practice. The guidelines is of great significance to consolidating the achievements of defense and military reforms, and promoting joint operations capability of the Chinese military.
Question: The CPC Central Committee's proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, which was deliberated and approved at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, has made a strategic arrangement for faster defense and military modernization, and explicitly put forward the goal of "ensuring the achievement of the military's centenary goal by 2027". Can you explain the meaning of "ensuring the achievement of the military’s centenary goal by 2027".
Answer: A prosperous country must be built with a strong military, because only a strong military can make a country safe and stable. Taking into account the overall needs of national security and development, and aiming to press ahead with our endeavors to build a strong military, the CPC Central Committee has made the historic decision to put forth the military's centenary goal, which will be reached by the time when the people's military celebrates its glories on its 100th anniversary. The goal is set to enhance China's strategic capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and to provide strategic guidance for realizing the phased objectives and tasks of defense and military modernization. The utmost importance of "ensuring the achievement of the military's centenary goal by 2027" manifests itself in the following four aspects.
Firstly, to achieve the military's centenary goal, it is required to accelerate the integrated development of a mechanized, informationized and intelligent military. Through long-term efforts, the Chinese military has basically achieved mechanization and made significant progress in informationization. However, with the accelerated evolution of modern warfare, it has become a major trend in world military affairs to build intelligent military systems. The transformation of war patterns and the development of the Chinese military have jointly determined that the Chinese military has to tap on the trend of defense and military modernization of our times, and accelerate the integrated development of a mechanized, informationized and intelligent military, with a view to taking the initiative in the reform in world military affairs.
Secondly, to achieve the military's centenary goal, it is required to accelerate the modernization of our military in terms of theory, organizational structure, service personnel, and weaponry. We should guide military practice with advanced military theories, promote combat effectiveness and the military's vitality on the basis of an advanced organizational structure, and back the undertakings of building a strong military with high-caliber professional military talents, as well as advanced weaponry systems as a strong material and technological support. These are not only the inherent requirements for accelerating defense and military modernization, but also the fundamental approach to the military's centenary goal.
Thirdly, to achieve the military's centenary goal, it is required to put quality and efficiency first. The world's major changes unseen in a century are accelerating, and the international strategic landscape has undergone profound transformation. The security situation facing China is complex and challenging. The contradictions between the need and the achieved in defense and military modernization are still prominent. Therefore, top priority has to be given to high-quality development in an effort to improve the efficiency and efficacy of military systems and defense resources.
Fourthly, to achieve the military's centenary goal, it is required to promote the simultaneous growth of defense and economy. China's comprehensive national strength, including its economic, research and technological capacity, have leaped to a new level during the 13th Five-Year Plan period, and China has become the world's second-largest economy. However, China's national defense strength does not match its economic growth, and is not compatible with China's international standing and its strategic security needs. Therefore, it is necessary for us to make full use of high-quality resources of the entire society to accelerate defense and military modernization in coordination with national modernization drives, so as to ensure a consistent and steady progress toward a strong military.
Question: Christopher C. Miller was recently appointed the US Acting Secretary of Defense. How does China view this appointment? Will the appointment affect the development of the mil-to-mil relationship between China and US?
Answer: We have noticed the change of US DoD's leading officials. This is an internal affair of the US, and the Chinese side will not make comments. What I would like to emphasize is that China always attaches great importance to the development of China-US military-to-military relationship. Maintaining the sound and steady development of this relationship serves the fundamental interests of China and the United States and is the common expectation of the international community.
We hope the US side will work with the Chinese side toward the same goal, uphold the principles of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, enhance mutual understanding, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, continue to focus on cooperation, manage and control risks and divergences, and make efforts to maintain a stable relationship between the two countries and two militaries, so as to contribute to the common interests of the peoples from both countries and around the world.
Question: According to reports, China and India held another round of Corps Commander Level Meeting on November 6. Please brief us on the developments in the China-India border areas since the meeting.
Answer: The Chinese and Indian militaries held the 8th round of Corps Commander Level Meeting on November 6, after which the two sides issued a joint news release. Following the meeting, China and India have maintained candid and in-depth communication and coordination to promote disengagement in areas along the Line of Actual Control in the western sector of China-India boundary. Both sides agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and ensure their frontline troops to exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation.
At present, the situation in the China-India border areas has remained stable on the whole. China is ready to maintain communication with the Indian side through military and diplomatic channels. We hope that the Indian side will work with China toward the same goal, implement bilateral consensus with sincerity and proactive actions, so as to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the border areas.
Question: Taiwan media reported that Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen recently claimed that Taiwan would keep trying to seek the US's support and deepen their so-called "partnership". What's your comment?
Answer: China firmly opposes any form of official exchanges and military contacts between the US and Taiwan. The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and reunification of the country is an unstoppable trend and a just cause supported by all Chinese people. Those who follow this trend will prosper, and those who go against it are doomed to failure. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s attempt to borrow strength from foreign forces and seek "Taiwan independence" by military means is nothing but a suicidal attempt like a mantis trying to stop a chariot. We will not allow anyone or any force to infringe upon and secede the sacred territory of our motherland. Once such a serious situation occurs, the Chinese PLA will surely deal a head-on blow and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Question: What are the differences and innovations of the Guidelines on Joint Operations of the People's Liberation Army (Trial) compared with the previous combat doctrines?
Answer: Compared with previous combat doctrines, the newly released Guidelines on Joint Operations of the People's Liberation Army (Trial) (hereinafter referred to as "the guidelines") has taken a brand-new perspective on how to understand and fight future wars. The guidelines incorporates many new ideas and demonstrates distinct characteristics of the Chinese military. It is creative mainly in the following three aspects.
Firstly, the guidelines is targeted at future warfare. The document is promulgated by studying the traits and laws of future warfare, systematically summarizing the experiences of the Chinese military in the training exercises over recent years, absorbing major theoretical achievements, and learning from the combat doctrines and experience of foreign militaries. Being forward-looking, the guidelines is supposed to answer the important questions as what wars to fight and how to fight in the future from an institutional perspective.
Secondly, the guidelines focuses on new missions and tasks. In July 2019, China released a white paper titled China's National Defense in the New Era, in which the missions and tasks of the Chinese military in the new era are expounded for the first time as the four strategic supports (that is to consolidate the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system, safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, protect China's overseas interests, and promote world peace and development). In order to effectively accomplish its tasks and respond to the immediate risks and challenges in national security, the Chinese military regulates, innovates, and develops the patterns and methods of joint operations in the guidelines, making the document a combat doctrine fit for the new era.
Thirdly, the guidelines highlights the new organizational structure. In order to actively adapt to the defense and military reform, and continue to enhance combat effectiveness, the guidelines has achieved historic breakthroughs in terms of strengthening the CMC strategic command, underlining the theatre commands' responsibility on operations and the use of new-type combat forces, improving the joint operations command system, and innovating combat methods, thus providing a basic guidance for the employment of China's armed forces.
Question: A few days ago, the PLA Navy's new batch of carrier-based J-15 fighter pilots passed daytime landing qualification certification. The pilots were recruited directly from high schools, which is a new training model developed the PLA Navy. Please brief us on the main features and significance of this new model.
Answer: Recently, the PLA Navy's first group of carrier-based fighter pilots directly recruited from high schools successfully passed the qualification test of daytime onboard landing. Historic breakthroughs have been made when the largest number of personnel was certified in one test through shortest training and certification periods. The test is a prove for the effectiveness of the recruiting and training procedures of carrier-based fighter pilots, the success of the dual-track pilot development model combining the training of trained pilots and high school recruits, and a big step forward for the growth of capabilities of the PLA Navy aircraft carriers.
Compared with the experienced pilots retrained for carrier-based fighters, high school recruits are special in three ways.
First, the average age is young. These pilots were directly recruited from high schools and are in their early 20s. Second, the training cycle is shortened. They have completed all basic education, professional studies and retraining in the military university and are familiar with the ideas of carrier-borne flight and the operation of the fighters. Finally, they will serve for longer periods of time. The qualification certification will be attained after scientific evaluation and landing assessment. The flight life of the young carrier-based fighter pilots is effectively increased.
Carrier-based fighter pilots are the most critical and essential elements of aircraft carrier combat systems, and important forces in maritime and air operations. In recent years, the PLA Navy has resolutely implemented the CMC's decisions and instructions, and always taken faster development of carrier-based fighter pilots as a crucial step in the transformation of the PLA Navy. By steadily pressing ahead with the dual-track pilot development model combining the training of trained pilots and high school recruits, the PLA Navy has blazed a Chinese way of carrier-based fighter pilots development, which is of great significance to more effective aircraft carrier combat systems. At present, the operation efficiency of carrier-based aircraft is gradually improving, tactical training is continuously expanded, and offensive and defensive capabilities in the daytime and at night are developed.
Question: It is reported that Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) released China Security Report 2021 in mid-November, saying that China is boosting war-preparedness in an attempt to strengthen its military capabilities centered on science and technology (S&T), and that it is important for Japan to enhance its own defense posture while continuing to deepen relations with the United States in order to improve the deterrence of the Japan-US alliance. What's your comment on that?
Answer: We have noticed the report published by the think tank under the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The report made groundless comments on China's defense and military modernization. Its arguments are not objective, responsible or professional, and are totally untenable.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development, and firmly upholds a defense policy that is defensive in nature and the military strategy of active defense. China accelerates its defense and military modernization to respond to the new revolution in world military affairs, the evolution of warfare, and the reality of its own military development. It is totally out of the need to safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests. It is not directed against any country, nor will it pose a threat to any country. It has been proven by facts time and again that the development China's armed forces means the growth of the world’s peaceful forces.
We hope the relevant party will abandon the Cold War mentality and view the development of China's national defense and armed forces objectively and rationally. We need to draw lessons from history, be forward-looking, and contribute more to China-Japan relations as well as regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite.
Question: We've noticed that the State Council and the CMC recently approved the joint inter-ministerial meeting mechanism for national military recruitment. Please provide more details and relevant considerations.
Answer: To further strengthen the organization, leadership, coordination and cohesion of military recruitment across the country, the State Council and the CMC approved the establishment of the joint inter-ministerial meeting mechanism for national military recruitment. Main considerations are:
First, the mechanism is established to meet the demand for further reform in the military service system. As the reform of military recruitment efforts proceeds, the State Council and CMC have decided to turn annual military recruitment and demobilization efforts to semiannual events. Accordingly, major changes will take place in the procedures and methods of military recruitment. Therefore, it is necessary to enhance the coordination and guidance on all military recruitment endeavors at the state level.
Second, the mechanism is established to meet the demand for greater civil-military synergy. Military recruitment concerns a large population and a wide array of military and civilian sectors. Therefore, it is an objective need to put in place an efficient and cohesive state-level leading mechanism to strengthen civil-military coordination and push for the smooth implementation of the recruitment tasks.
Third, the mechanism is established to meet the demand for an improved system of policies and institutions for military recruitment. The policies of military recruitment are closely related to that of military service and demobilization. The mechanism will be conducive to facilitating inter-ministerial coordination, creating a complete and cohesive system of policies and institutions, and promoting the quality and efficiency of military recruitment.
Question: According to media reports, US Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite recently called for the establishment of a new numbered fleet to counter China's military ambition. Meanwhile, Commander of US Pacific Air Forces Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach named the Chinese Air Force a primary adversary in the Pacific region. What is your comment on this?
Answer: We have noted relevant remarks by the US side. This is an old trick played by some people in the US. First, they create "enemies" and hype up "threats", and then they ask for money and resources at home and seek hegemony abroad. The old but sinister game is a typical manifestation of the Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game. It goes completely against the trend of the times for peace, development and win-win cooperation. We are firmly opposed to this.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development, firmly pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and resolutely safeguards its sovereignty, security and development interests. China will never seek hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence, while no force can stop the development of China!
We hope that the US side will keep an open eye on the world, look at China rationally, follow the trend of the times, and do more things conducive for world peace and development.
Question: According to media reports, the CMC Political Work Department is organizing the military's public recruitment of civilian staff in 2020. Please brief us on this.
Answer: According to the Regulations on the Civilian Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and relevant policies, the Chinese military’s recruitment of civilian staff in 2020 has been launched to bring in outstanding civilian talents to work for the military. In order to improve the quality and efficiency of the recruitment, separate procedure has been adopted this year for the positions open to doctoral degree holders. The candidates applying for these positions can be called for interview directly without taking any written test, while others have to first enter for a written examination organized by the military.
More than 27,000 positions have been offered this time, and over 396,000 people have signed up. The enrollment rate is 87%, with an average enrollment ratio of 15:1. Among all candidates who passed the written examination, 28% are master degree holders or above, 69% are bachelor degree holders, and 35% are graduates from the key Chinese universities listed in the Double Top plan or foreign universities. As scheduled, the follow-up recruitment procedures, including interview, political clearance, physical examination, public notice and approval, will be completed by the end of November this year.
The recruitment of this year aims to meet the needs of military development and has thus established stringent standards and conditions to select civilian talents tailored for the positions. Emphasis has been placed on major military occupational specialties, critical positions and short-handed units. The recruitment process has been open to the public in terms of the number of positions, qualifications and conditions, selection procedures, and the results, so as to ensure fairness and transparency.
The comparative advantages and comprehensive benefits of the military civilian staff system have gradually been visible. We welcome and hope that more outstanding civilian talents will apply for the civilian staff positions and join the military to make their contributions for the building of a world-class military.
Question: We have noticed that recently the Ministry of Veterans Affairs introduced the Law on Support for Veterans of the People's Republic of China in a comprehensive way. Could you please tell us more about this law?
Answer: On November 11, the 23rd session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress adopted the Law on Support for Veterans of the People's Republic of China. President Xi Jinping subsequently signed a presidential decree to promulgate the law. The law has laid a solid legal foundation for stronger support to former service members. It is a critical measure to improve the handling of veterans' affairs, safeguard their rights and interests and make the military careers attractive to and respected by the whole society.
The law takes contributions as the measurement for treatment, and highlights participation in military operations, work experience in small and border units, and personal competencies. It defines and stipulates how the demobilized military personnel shall reenter the civilian life, get vocational training, land civilian jobs, start their own businesses, and receive their pensions, preferential treatment, commendations, and applicable services and administration.
For example, it improves the quality of resettlement for the veterans by providing easier procedures, stronger support and clearer orientation. It innovates in the education and training of the veterans by improving relevant training before their demobilization, granting preferential policies, and strengthening vocational training. It helps the veterans get employed or start businesses by advancing support measures, expanding employment opportunities and giving preference to their own businesses. It enhances preferential treatment and commendation for the veterans by giving extra privileges in addition to the preference available to others, and determining the scope of preferential treatment in accordance with the honors they have obtained. It improves the veterans' service and administration system by providing better services, safeguarding their lawful rights and interests, and adopting accountability and evaluation mechanisms in the work in association with veteran affairs.
"Love my people, love my armed forces." The veterans have made crucial contributions to the development of China's national defense and military. As an important force in the socialist modernization drive and a valuable asset of the Party and the country, they deserve to be cared for. Serving the armed forces, they follow the Party's command, serve the people, protect the country, and play an essential role in promoting combat capabilities. Living a civilian life, they adapt to the times, remain true to what they have been committed to, repay the people, and become a new force for the development of the country.
We are convinced that, with the implementation of the law, bearing in mind the profound care and great expectation from the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and President Xi Jinping, all members serving or served in the armed forces will continue to forge ahead and make new achievements in the new era.
Question: It is reported that the Chinese and US militaries held a video seminar on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) in mid-November, during which the two sides exchanged views on the military’s participation in the fight against COVID-19 epidemic. Please brief us on this.
Answer: According to the annual exchange plan between the two militaries, the US-China Disaster Management Exchange 2020 was held via video link between Nanjing of China and Hawaii of the US from November 11 to 13. It was the 16th interaction between the Chinese and US militaries under the HADR exchange mechanism. The two sides exchanged views on a range of topics such as international HADR cooperation, civil-military cooperation in disaster relief, and military's participation in flood fighting, typhoon prevention, and COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control.
The US side appreciated the Chinese military's achievements in epidemic prevention and control, and its support to the civil sectors in fighting the COVID-19. As the world is joining hands to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the institutionalized exchange program carried out between the Chinese and US militaries demonstrated their positive will to maintain communication and promote the steady development of mil-to-mil relationship. It is conducive for the two militaries to learn from each other's experience and improve their capabilities for joint disaster relief operations.