By Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, Deputy Director General of the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND
Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, 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 December 31, 2020. (Photo: mod.gov.cn)
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Question: At the recent military training meeting of the Central Military Commission (CMC), President Xi Jinping stressed the need to comprehensively strengthen military training under real combat conditions and improve the training level and the capability of winning wars. Please brief us on the overall situation and characteristics of the PLA’s military training in 2020.
Answer: President Xi attaches great importance to military training. At the beginning of this year, he signed the CMC’s Order No.1to launch annual military training. Recently, he attended the CMC military training meeting and delivered an important speech to guide and encourage all service members to conduct training under real-combat conditions and promote combat capabilities through training, continue to deepen military training in the new era and carry out higher-level actual combat training within the Chinese military.
First, the CMC held a military training meeting to review the training experience since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), analyze the new dynamics and tasks of training and readiness, and plan the establishment of a new-type military training system. The meeting is a milestone in strengthening the military in the new era.
Second, the military continued to strengthen targeted training in responding to real security threats in different directions and fields.
Third, led by the strategic level training, theater-command level joint training and training in services and arms put more focus on real combat. Compared with the same period last year, the number of training in high-altitude areas and has increased by around 30% and night training by 10%.
Fourth, to adapt to the needs of epidemic prevention and control, the military has adjusted its military training and exercise plans to focus on fighting against the pandemic and strengthening military preparedness.
Fifth, great efforts have been made to accomplish the tasks set in the 13th five-year plan for military training, and to plan and work out the 14th five-year military training plan.
Sixth, military training supervision and inspection has evolved into combat-oriented supervision and law-based inspection, having achieved noticeable effects on promoting training and military preparedness.
Seventh, efforts have been strengthened to create a joint training standard system and to continuously improve the regulations and textbooks on military training. More than 300 training outlines and 2,000 textbooks have been compiled and revised.
Finally, the supportive system for military training has been enhanced, and the training base construction has been advanced continuously. In the past year, our service members have trained hard and scientifically with stronger faith, and have gained better military competence. They have the confidence and determination to accomplish the missions and tasks entrusted by the Party and the people in the new era.
Question: A conference on political education in the military was held in Beijing in early December, which focused on strengthening the Party’s political leadership over the military, and building an education system for the new era. Please brief us on the relevant arrangements.
Answer: Building a political education system for the new era is a major subject proposed by President Xi Jinping. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, we held the conference on political education work in the military to study and implement Pr. Xi’s important instructions for strengthening and improving political education in the military. The meting focused on strengthening the Party’s political leadership over the military, building an education system for the new era, and making innovations in the concepts, contents, methods, forces, and working and institutional mechanisms of education.
The conference studied and discussed three three regulatory documents on the military’s political education, and regulated the top-level guideline on system-building, basis for teaching, and required measures for implementation and supervision. A series of textbooks and supporting videos, as well as an APP named “Xue xi Qiang jun”, will be launched to help. Building the political education system for the new era will elevate the military’s political education to a new level, open a new horizon in that regard, and provide a strong political support for building a strong military.
Question: It is reported that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress(NPC) recently deliberated and adopted the revised National Defense Law. Could you please comment on the significance of the revisions? What important institutional innovations have been made in the revised law?
Answer: National defense is the security guarantee for the survival and development of a country. The National Defense Law is the basic law of the state in the field of national defense to guide and regulate national defense and military development.
On December 26, the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC deliberated and passed the revised National Defense Law of the People’s Republic of China at its 24th session. It was signed by President Xi Jinping through the No.67 presidential decree on the same day and will take effect on January 1, 2021. It is a significant milestone in China’s national defense legislation.
Since it was promulgated in 1997, the previous edition of the National Defense Law has played an important role in building and consolidating national defense and advancing the modernization of national defense and the armed forces. However, with the development and changes of the world, the nation, the Party and the military, the previous edition no longer fully suits the new tasks and requirements of China’s national defense and military development in the new era and needs to be revised and improved.
A strong country stands on the basis of a strong legal system. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the revised National Defense Law follows Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, the overall national security outlook, and the military strategic guideline for the new era. Being target-oriented and problem-based, the revised National Defense Law emphasizes the Party’s centralized and unified leadership, meeting reform requirements, taking in practical experience and addressing concerns of different groups. It will provide a solid legal guarantee for safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests and promoting national defense and military modernization.
The latest revisions have enriched the basic systems concerning national defense and military development in various fields and demonstrated the outcomes of major policy and institutional reforms.
First, Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is established as the guiding thought over China’s national defense activities.
Second, the national defense duties of relevant state institutions are adjusted. For instance, some national defense duties of China’s State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC) have been adjusted to adapt to the new structure and functions of the military, and the content regarding the system wherein the CMC chairman shall assume overall responsibility is added.
Third, the tasks and goals of China’s armed forces are further enriched. For example, contents are added regarding the Chinese military’s missions and tasks in the new era, and the Party’s objectives of building a strong military and the Party's basic guidelines on building and governing the military.
Fourth, the defense policies for major security fields are specified. For instance, to meet the defense needs of new types of security activities and interests, the traditional border, maritime and air defense is expanded to border defense, maritime defense, air defense and defense in other major security fields. The defense in such major security fields as outer space, electromagnetics, and cyberspace are clarified.
Fifth, the scientific research and production for national defense as well as military procurement institutions are improved.
Sixth, the institutions of national defense education and mobilization are enriched and perfected. For instance, contents are added about civil servants playing a leading part in participating in national defense education.
Seventh, the protection of the status, rights, and interests of military personnel is strengthened. Focusing on "making the military a profession respected by the whole society", the basic regulations for the status, honor, rights and related guarantees of service members have been laid down in particular.
Finally, the policies and institutions concerning foreign military relationship between China and other countries are refined. For example, contents are added regarding “pursuing common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security” and “promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind”.
In general, the newly revised National Defense Law, as the basic law in the field of national defense and military development, and the overriding law of other laws and regulations on that front, formulated the fundamental principles and norms governing major guidelines and principles, targets and tasks, and basic institutions for national defense activities. It revised the basic policies which can not meet the new circumstances and requirements, and will serve as a top-level institution that urgently needed in the new era.
To establish a complete and well-aligned system of military laws and regulations with Chinese characteristics,the framework and main contents of the revised law have been carefully designed.It will serve as a guidance for the draft or revision of other military laws and regulationsin the reform of military policies and institutions and has left space for new contents, making it a sound legislation better aligned to the political requirements and development of the times.
Question:In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around the world and there have been profound changes in the international security environment. Nevertheless, the Chinese military has risen to the challenge and achieved fruitful outcomes in international military cooperation through innovative methods. The PLA Daily published an article on December 31, which reviewed and interpreted the highlights of China’s international military cooperation in the past year. Please elaborate on that.
Answer: The year 2020 is an unusual year both for China and the world. The review of China’s international military cooperation and its highlights published by the PLA Daily is a faithful portrayal of how we have overcome difficulties and made progress in international military cooperation. In the face of the sweeping outbreak of COVID-19 and complicated international security environment in 2020, the Chinese military, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, has strictly implemented the decisions made by the CPC Central Committee, CMC and President Xi on international military cooperation. Keeping in mind and focusing on the overall political and diplomatic interests of the Party and the country, the military has endeavored to foster opportunities out of crises and open a new horizon amid changes, making new a contribution to defending national interests, preserving world peace, and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
First, the military has been actively engaged in international cooperation with foreign counterparts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders of the CMC have sent letters to the defense and military leaders of 28 countries and held phone talks with defense leaders of 12 countries, expressing sympathies to their pandemic situation and gratitude for their assistance to China. The PLA has provided anti-epidemic supplies to the militaries of 50 countries, sent experts to the militaries of four countries, held video conferences to share epidemic prevention and control experience with the militaries of 18 countries (international organizations), and offered assistance to foreign military personnel in China, making great contributions to building a community of common health for mankind.
Second, the Chinese military has fostered favorable strategic posture. The Chinese and Russian militaries have continuously deepened exchanges and cooperation in high-level exchanges, epidemic prevention and control, joint exercises and other fields, intensified strategic coordination and mutual support and maintained the high-level development of mil-to-mil relationship.
The Chinese and the US militaries have strengthened strategic communication, and managed and controlled risks and divergences to keep their relations generally stable.
China and Europe have steadily advanced defense and security cooperation and carried out institutional dialogues and exchanges. With neighboring countries, China has had active high-level exchanges to deepen practical defense cooperation and advance the construction of a neighborhood community with a shared future.
China has also kept close military relations with developing countries in Africa and Latin America.
Besides, China participated in the China-ASEAN defense ministers’ informal meetings and ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), and hosted workshops underthe Beijing Xiangshan Forum, doing its active part to respond to regional and global challenges. China has also engaged deeply in the international arms control cooperation and the global security governance, and consistently provided public security products in forms of peacekeeping operations and naval escort missions to safeguard global strategic stability.
Third, the Chinese military have focused on military preparedness and combat readiness. In implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military and the military strategic guideline for a new era, the military, while strictly carrying out anti-pandemic measures, has strengthened practical exchanges and cooperation with foreign counterparts on military training.
It organized the second China-Russia joint aerial strategic patrol, and participated in a list of international military events, including the “Military World Games 2020”, “Kavkaz-2020” strategic exercise hosted by the Russian military, China-Pakistan “Sea Guardians 2020” joint maritime exercise and “Shaheen (Eagle) – IX” joint air force training, China-Cambodia “Dragon Golden 2020” joint training, and “Cobra Gold-2020” multilateral military exercise.
These joint exercises and training have enhanced the mutual trust and exchanges between the Chinese military and its foreign counterparts, and improved realistic training of Chinese troops.
Fourth, the Chinese militaryhas defended national interests and dignity. Whenever foreign forces tried to pressure and provoke China on the Taiwan question and the South China Sea issue, the Chinese military has always made its stance known and firmly fought back.
The Chinese military has staunchly safeguarded national sovereignty and territorial integrity and strongly responded to the US arms sales to Taiwan, its military vessels’ trespassing into Chinese territorial waters off islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and its defense leaders’ groundless accusations against China.
Adhering to military and diplomatic channels, including border defense exchange, Chinese side has communicated and consulted with the Indian side, urging it to maintain peace and tranquility in the border area. Furthermore, the military has been committed to expose all kinds of disinformation, lies and slanders about the military, clarifying facts and truths.
Finally, the Chinese military has been sharing its vision with the world. The Chinese military has released a white paper titled China’s Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations, which expounds on the original aspiration, policies, practices, visions and initiatives of China's participation in the UN peacekeeping operations.
In combination with the anti-epidemic aid to foreign counterparts, the Chinese military, taking into consideration of the recipients’ cultural features, has designed 50 bilingual posters that embody the essence of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and sent them along with the anti-epidemic supplies, in a bid to pass confidence and strength to the peoples afflicted by COVID-19 .
The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC and the beginning of China’s 14th Five-year Plan. No matter how the international situation changes, the Chinese military, under the guidance of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, will continue to uphold the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, advance international military cooperation of the new era, and contribute to creating a beautiful world of lasting peace and universal security.
Question: The US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard have jointly released a new maritime strategy, Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power, on December17, 2020. It accused China of strengthening military build-up in space and cyberspace, and threatening world peace and prosperity. Do you have any comment on this? In addition, what's your comment on the China-US mil-to-mil relationship this year? And what are your expectations for the future relationship between the two militaries?
Answer: We have noticed the US document. The paper deliberately exaggerated international strategic competition and the so-called China’s military threat. Its intention is nothing more than to create an excuse for itself to seek absolute military superiority. China is firmly opposed to this. China adheres to the path of peaceful development and unswervingly pursues a defensive national defense policy. Meanwhile, China will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty, dignity and core interests. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Some people in the US still cling to the outdated Cold War mentality and the narrow-minded zero-sum game thinking. They always hypothesize other countries as threats, disregard international fairness and justice, frequently incite disputes and conflicts, and undermine the international system and order. We urge them to face reality, follow the general trend, correct mistakes, put the hammer down, and do more things conducive to world peace and common development.
As for the China-US mil-to-mil relationship, China has resolutely responded to the wrong actions of the US in provoking and exerting pressure on the issues involving China's core interests and major concerns, and vigorously safeguarded national sovereignty, security, and development interests since the beginning of this year. The relationship between the two militaries has been disturbed by the negative words and deeds of the US side, and has experienced some setbacks. However, the two sides have maintained strategic communication and risk management, and the relationship between the two sides is generally stable. China has always attached great importance to the military relationship between China and the US. Maintaining a sound and stable mil-to-mil relationship serves the common interests of both sides, and is also the common expectation of the international community.
In the new year, we hope that the US side could proceed from the overall perspective of the relations between the two countries and the two militaries, effectively reduce hostility and provocations towards China, work with the Chinese side towards the same goal, continue to strengthen cooperation in such areas as strategic communication, institutional exchanges, conflict prevention and crisis management, and jointly promote the stable development of the relationship between the two militaries.
Question: It is reported that Chinese and Russian defense ministers signed a protocol in mid-December to extend the Agreement on Mutual Notification for Launches of Ballistic Missiles and Carrier Rockets by another ten years. In late December, the Chinese and Russian militaries launched the second joint strategic air patrol. Commentaries say that the intensive military cooperation between China and Russia demonstrates the high level of strategic mutual trust between the two countries. What is your comment on the current mil-to-mil relationship between China and Russia?
Answer: Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, the relationship between the Chinese and Russian militaries has been running at high-level in 2020, and cooperation has been carried out in multiple areas including high-level exchanges, pandemic prevention and control, and joint exercises.
In high-level exchanges, State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe attended the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War and the joint meeting of defense ministers of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Russia. The defense ministers of China and Russia held a video conference and jointly announced to extend the period of validity of the Agreement on Mutual Notification for Launches of Ballistic Missiles and Carrier Rockets by another ten years, further strengthening the strategic cooperation between China and Russia.
In pandemic prevention and control, the two sides strengthened mutual support and close communication and cooperation through letters between leaders, material assistance, video conferences of military medical experts and other ways.
In joint exercises, the Chinese military went to Russia to participate in the International Army Games-2020 (IAG-2020) and the Kavkaz-2020 strategic exercise. Besides, the two militaries organized the second joint air strategic patrol. The bilateral military cooperation continued to deepen, which continuously enriched new connotations of the relations between the two countries and the two militaries, and fully reflects the high-level and special comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between China and Russia for a new era.
As an old saying in China goes, only heart-to-heart exchanges can last long. The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and FriendlyCooperation, which is of particular significance to China and Russia. In the new year, under the strategic guidance of the twoheads ofstate, China will continue to maintain close communication with Russia, strengthen practical cooperation, strive to promote the military relationship to a new and higher level and contribute more to maintaining world peace and stability.
Question: According to reports, China’s State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe recently had a video call with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, in which he mentioned speeding up the building of a maritime and air liaison mechanism. Please brief us on the latest progress of the mechanism.
Answer: The maritime and air liaison mechanism between the Chinese and Japanese defense departments has been operating well in general since its establishment in 2018and has played a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the East China Sea. At present, after several rounds of consultations, the defense departments of the two countries have made positive progress on the direct telephone line under the maritime and air liaison mechanism. It is expected to start building as soon as possible.
Question: It is reported that Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff recently called for a closer China-Pakistan partnership under the current global security situation at the closing ceremony of the joint exercise between air forces of the two countries. What's the comment of the Chinese side on this? How does China view its military relationship with Pakistan?
Answer: From December 7 to 25, the China-Pakistan Joint Air Force Exercise "Shaheen (Eagle) - IX" was held at the Pakistani air base in Bholari. The two sides conducted a series of realistic training during the joint exercise and achieved the preset goals.
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. The bilateral relationship will continue to improve in the future. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of their leaders, the two countries have constantly strengthened cooperation in various fields, firmly supported each other in issues concerning their core interests, and built a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era. The military relationship between China and Pakistan serve as an important pillar for their bilateral relations. Since the beginning of this year, the two militaries have maintained close high-level strategic communication and carried out practical cooperation in related fields, testifying their brotherhood and friendship enabling them to go through thick and thin together. The year of 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations. China is willing to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan in fields like epidemic control, joint exercises, military equipment and technology, and logistics to push their military relationship to a higher level.
Question: Since the eighth round of Corps Commander Level Meeting between Chinese and Indian militaries in November, the two sides have maintained close communication on issues such as continuing to promote disengagement of troops along the Line of Actual Control in the west section of China-India boundary. According to recent reports by the Indian media, the ninth round of Corps Commander Level Meeting will be held soon. Could you please confirm that?
Answer: Since the eighth round of Corps Commander Level Meeting between Chinese and Indian militaries, the two sides have maintained consultation on disengagement of frontline troops and strengthened management of border troops. The situation in the border areas is generally stable. China is willing to maintain communication with India via military and diplomatic channels. We hope that India will work with China towards the same goal, implement the consensus reached at the Corps Commander Level Meetings, and take solid measures to further abate the tension in border areas. The two sides are holding consultations onthe ninth round of Corps Commander Level Meeting.
Question: Reuters reported that a NATO report released in early December claimed that China's rise posed threat to the security of NATO. According to foreign media reports, the British Royal Navy announced that it would deploy its aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the South China Sea early next year. Please comment on that.
Answer: We have noticed relevant report, and we strongly oppose groundless and false accusations against China. China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature and advocates common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. The development of China’s national defense aims to contribute to the growth of the world’s peaceful forces, and the Chinese military has been a staunch force for world peace and stability. You see but your shadow when you turn your back to the sun. We hope relevant parties will broaden their vision, discard prejudices and establish correct views on China and security, and hold a rational attitude towards the development of China and the Chinese military.
China believes that the South China Sea should be neither an arena for major-power wrestling nor a sea dominated by warships. At present, the situation in the South China Sea maintains overall stability thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries. Some countries outside the region come from afar to flex their military muscles, ignite confrontations, and create tensions in the South China Sea, which is the root reason for the “militarization” of this region. The Chinese military will take necessary measures to resolutely protect China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Question: It is reported that a ship of PLA Hong Kong Garrison recently berthed at the Central Military Dock for the first time. Will you please provide more information on the military functions of the Central Military Dock and the intention of the berthing?
Answer: At the end of September this year, the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Regionand the PLA Hong Kong Garrison signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Handover of Central Military Dock, and officially handed over the Central Military Dock to the PLA Hong Kong Garrison. The handover further enhanced the Garrison's ability to fulfill its defense responsibilities in accordance with the law.
In light of defense needs, the dock is mainly used for ship berthing, marine transportation, routine combat readiness enhancement, military exercises, etc. Recently, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison is debugging and testing relevant facilities of the dock, and the ship's berthing is part of the relevant testing work.
Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison has performed its duties strictly according to the Basic Law and the Garrison Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and has become a mainstay in safeguarding the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. The PLA Hong Kong Garrison firmly obeys the direction of the CPC Central Committee, the Central Military Commission and President Xi Jinping, upholds the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, remains committed to its defense responsibility, resolutely maintains Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability, and safeguards China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
The year 2020 will soon be over. In the past year, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the Central Military Commission and President Xi Jinping, the Chinese military has made remarkable contributions to defending the country, serving the people and safeguarding peace.
“Life or death, I will do whatever I can for the benefits of the country.” In 2020, all service members have remained true to their original aspiration and spared no effort to strengthen combat readiness and safeguard national sovereignty and security with their loyalty, courage and dedication.
“Always put the people and their lives first.” In 2020, the people’s armed forces have kept in mind this fundamental commitment and taken their responsibilities to safeguard the safety and benefits of the people on numerous frontlines such as epidemic prevention and control, disaster relief, and poverty alleviation.
“Stand together through difficulties and build a community with a shared future for mankind.” This year, the Chinese military has been committed to its responsibility as the military of a major country, conducted in-depth international military cooperation, faithfully fulfilled its international duties and obligations, opposed the hegemony, tyranny and bullying, safeguarded international justice, defended world peace, and actively promoted the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
In the year to come, under the guidance of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Strengthening the Military, the people’s military will continue to enhance their political loyalty and strengthen themselves through reform and technology, and run the army in accordance with the law. They will adopt a holistic approach to national security, and comprehensively strengthen the strategic capacities to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests, fulfill the missions and tasks bestowed by the Party and the people, and accelerate the modernization of national defense and the military. Despite challenges and difficulties, they will bravely move forward towards the Party’s goal of building a strong military in the new era.