By Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, Deputy Director General of the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
First of all, I would like to announce two pieces of news. First, on the night of May 21, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Yangbi County in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and later, in the early hours of May 22, a 7.4-magnitude quake jolted Maduo County in Guoluo Prefecture, northwest China’s Qinghai Province. In response to the disaster, the Joint Operations Command Center of the Central Military Commission (CMC), together with related theater commands and troop units, activated the emergency response mechanism, promptly sent troops to carry out emergency rescue and disaster relief, and ordered the troops stationed nearby to stand by in case of emergency. At present, the disaster relief work has been carried out in an effective and orderly manner.
Whenever the people are affected by disasters, the military will always come to their rescue. This is the purpose and responsibility of the Chinese people's armed forces. At present, all the troops involved are working hard on the frontline of earthquake relief and they will resolutely fulfill the missions and tasks entrusted by the Party and the people.
Second, the 18th ASEAN Regional Forum Security Policy Conference (ASPC) was held via a video link on the morning of May 27, during which the participants exchanged views on international and regional issues, threats and challenges of emerging technologies to defense security, the buildup of mutual trust and development cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, etc. The head of the Office for International Military Cooperation of the CMC attended the event and talked about China’s views on current international and regional landscapes. He emphasized that in dealing with unprecedented challenges, countries need to unite more than ever and stand on the right side of history to uphold true multilateralism. In addition, he commended the important role of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in safeguarding regional peace and stability, expounded China’s positions on the military application of emerging technologies, and put forward suggestions on developing defense and security cooperation in the context of the global pandemic.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations. The Chinese military will continue to actively participate in relevant ASEAN-led defense security cooperation mechanisms to strengthen the China-ASEAN strategic partnership and make a greater contribution to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.
Question: After the sinking of the Indonesian Navy’s KRI Nanggala-402 submarine, China dispatched vessels to assist in the rescue and salvage in waters where the incident occurred. Could you please update us on China’s rescue operations? Besides, some foreign media reported that China might take this opportunity to boost its regional influence and collect geographic data of relevant sea areas. What’s your comment?
Answer: After the sinking of the Indonesian Navy’s KRI Nanggala-402 submarine, President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to express deep condolences to the victims and extend sincere sympathies to the bereaved families. Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe also sent condolences to Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. In early May, with the approval of the Central Military Commission, three Chinese vessels, namely the ocean salvage/rescue ship Yongxingdao (Hull 863) and the ocean tug ship Nantuo-195 sent by the PLA Navy (PLAN), and the scientific research vessel Explorer 2 sent by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), arrived at the sea area where the disaster happened in Indonesia to support the rescue and salvage operations.
As of now, the Chinese vessels have conducted 18 dives of survey task and achieved phased results. They have basically figured out the underwater state of the wrecked submarine, and salvaged some of its components, which have been handed over to the Indonesian side in a timely manner. During the salvage operation, the Chinese task force has been in close communication and coordination with the Indonesian military and held four mission-based coordination meetings. On May 18, China and Indonesia held a joint news conference at Denpasar Naval Base in Bali, Indonesia, where they introduced the progress of the salvage work.
Following the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind initiated by President Xi Jinping, the Chinese military carried out this humanitarian relief operation jointly with its Indonesian counterpart. This is the first international rescue practice of the Chinese submarine rescue force and it is of great significance to strengthening and deepening China-Indonesia comprehensive strategic partnership. An an old Chinese saying goes “actions speak louder than words”. The Chinese military will remain committed to enhancing strategic mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation with regional armed forces and making new and greater contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Question: It is reported that after the Biden administration took office, the US side continued to promote the “Indo-Pacific strategy” and made frequent military provocations against China. The strategy has a growing connotation of containing China. According to America’s Foreign Policy magazine, an anonymous U.S. Defense Department official said that the U.S. government intends to put in place more defense hotlines with China to manage security risks and prevent potential conflicts. What’s your comment on that?
Answer: On the “Indo-Pacific strategy”, China believes that no strategy should go against the trends of peace and development of our times, and deliberately play up conflict and confrontation. A strategy emphasizing military presence and military competition will only heighten regional tensions and undermine world peace and stability. No strategy should instigate countries to establish selective and exclusive military alliances, or to create a “New Cold War” of confrontational blocs. A zero-sum game will only lead to more division, antagonism and chaos. No strategy should harm the well-being of people in regional countries, or put them in a dangerous situation. Seeking one’s own selfish interests and unilateral absolute security will only do harm to others and lose the support.
For a long time, the Chinese and American militaries have maintained communication through multiple channels, including the Defense Telephone Link (DTL). We believe that defense hotlines are set up to enhance trust, manage crises, and prevent conflicts. The US side should not, on the one hand, propose to put up new defense hotlines, while, on the other hand, keep stepping up military deployments in the Asian Pacific region, frequently conduct close-in reconnaissance against China, and even deliberately initiate dangerous circumstances between Chinese and US military aircraft or vessels. We urge the US side to keep their words with good faith and work together with the Chinese side to strengthen dialogue, properly manage differences and promote a sound and stable mil-to-mil relationship.
Question: It is reported that the Japanese Defense White Paper 2021 will include for the first time the content that “a stable Taiwan situation is of great importance to Japan’s security and world stability”. It claimed that China’s military actions have raised some concerns. The Japanese white paper also accused the activities of China Coast Guard’s vessels around the Diaoyu Islands" violating international law". Please comment on that.
Answer: Recently, the Japanese side, in disregard of the basic norms governing international relations, has grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, deliberately played up the so-called “China military threat”, and groundlessly criticized China’s legitimate maritime activities. China firmly opposes that and has lodged solemn representations with the Japanese side.
The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair and brooks no foreign interference. On this issue, what the Japanese side should do is to bear in mind the dire miseries its aggression against China has brought to the Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots. Japan should correctly review and deeply reflect on the history of aggression by Japanese militarists. China urges the Japanese side to follow the principle of learning from history and looking into the future, be cautious with its words and deeds and do not overstretch its arms on issues concerning China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and work with China to push bilateral relations along the right track.
The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are inherent territory of China. This is a fact solidly backed by historical records and legal documents. The Diaoyu Islands were illegally occupied by the Japanese imperialist in 1895 during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. After the end of WWII in 1945, sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands was returned to China in accordance with the international legal documents, including the Cairo Declaration in 1943 and the Potsdam Proclamation in 1945. Therefore, the China Coast Guard’s vessels have full right to carry out patrol and law enforcement in waters off the Diaoyu Islands as a legitimate way of exercising national sovereignty.
International law is a just instrument that serves the whole world. It will not be tilted or distorted by any single country’s reckless and irresponsible talks for self-interests. Japan’s false accusation of China’s activities as violating the international law exactly reveals its blatant contempt for the law. Those holding this view should go to read the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation. China will continue to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and firmly defend the outcome of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the international order based on international law.
Question: The 28th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) held on April 29 adopted the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Promotion of Rural Vitalization. In recent years, the military has taken an active part in and made remarkable contributions to the nation’s anti-poverty war. What measures will the military take to support rural vitalization?
Answer: President Xi said that rural vitalization is a major task for realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. He called for solid efforts to consolidate and expand the achievements in poverty alleviation and align that with the rural vitalization campaign to lay a firmer foundation for poverty reduction and make the results more sustainable. The PLA is a people’s force under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Serving the people whole-heartedly is the fundamental purpose of the PLA, and affinity and solidarity between the military and the people are our fine tradition. The armed forces will continue to consolidate and develop the fruits yielded in the military’s participation in the anti-poverty war, boost the effective convergence between poverty alleviation and rural vitalization, and accomplish the glorious tasks entrusted by the CPC and the people.
Next, units at all levels of the military will act upon the decisions and instructions made by the CPC Central Committee, the Central Military Commission, and President Xi, and continue to do work well.
First, we will assist in strengthening primary-level Party organizations. We will help train Party members in paired-up villages, assist in the cultivation of talented villagers in agricultural production and operation, public service, and village governance, empower them to play their role of “yeast” in leading the poor villagers to achieve a better quality of life. The military will intensify recommendation and cultivation of “veteran-turned secretaries of Party branches” and encourage excellent demobilized soldiers to work or start businesses in rural areas.
Second, we will provide more educational assistance. Special efforts will be made to improve the conditions in rural schools of compulsory education. We will continue to build the brand of “Bayi Aiming School” and build more schools under it – from the current 156 to 300.
Third, we will do more in medical assistance. We will adjust and improve pairing-assistance between military hospitals and hospitals in counties which have shaken off poverty and aid 60 entitled hospitals by batches. Medical assistance programs such as “hydatid disease treatment in Tibetan ethnic areas”, health assistance “Bayi action,” and “military doctors’ visits to old revolutionary base areas” will be continued, dispatching military medical teams to conduct rounds of visits to provide medicine and treatment for villagers from the villages receiving targeted poverty alleviation assistance from the military.
Fourth, Assistance should be provided to vitalize the rural areas through promoting consumption. We will make lists of agricultural and sideline products produced by the paired-up villages, and promote the assistance pattern through consumption by encouraging different types of military units, including leading organs, troop units and academies, to purchase the recommended quality agricultural and sideline products from areas receiving poverty alleviation.
Fifth, we will help improve rural infrastructure. The military will take an active part in rural construction, and continue to help paired-up villages improve their infrastructure, including water supply, electricity, road, gas, communication, and radio and TV access. PLA troops stationed in border areas will build a batch of “convenient courier stations” at sentry posts of border defense companies to provide convenience to local people in their living, production and grazing.
Finally, we will help build a more civilized society in rural areas. The military will join hands with the local people to carry out activities to raise socialist cultural-ethical standards, build and make good use of reading rooms and cultural activity centers in villages, conduct patriotic and national defense education activities, and assist in establishing civilized local customs, good family tradition and simple folk customs and morals.
Question: It is reported that the Defense Security Cooperation Agencyof the US Department of Defense plans to announce the sale of the M109A6 self-propelled howitzer and other offensive weapons to Taiwan. It will be the first arms sale to Taiwan after the Biden administration took office. According to other reports, Taiwan air force recently test-fired the AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missile in southeast Taiwan, which is the first time that the US has allowed Taiwan military to test-fire this type of missile in areas around the island after selling it to Taiwan. What’s your comment?
Answer: The Taiwan question is China’s internal affairs. We firmly oppose any country selling weapons to Taiwan or having military interactions in any form with Taiwan. The US arms sale to Taiwan seriously violates the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. We urge the US side to abide by the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, a basic norm of international relations clearly set out in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, honor its solemn commitments to China on the Taiwan question, handle Taiwan-related issues carefully and properly, cease official exchanges and military contacts in any form with the island and stop arms sales to Taiwan.
Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities colluded with and catered to external force and harmed the interests of the Chinese nation.Theyeven attempted to “seek independence by force", which will only lead Taiwan compatriots into the abyss of disaster. We sternly warn the DPP authorities that any attempt or act of courting foreign supportfor separatist purposes is doomed to be futile and bound to fail. The PLA will take all necessary measures to resolutely thwart any separatist attempt for "Taiwan independence" and safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Question: According to the US media, the Commander of US Space Command recently claimed that China and Russia have developed weapons that can either disrupt or destroy US satellites and China’s outer space capacity has posed a pacing threat to the United States. What’s the comment from the Chinese side?
Answer: One of the outstanding features of such claims is to take opinions as facts and conjectures as conclusions. They are neither justified nor convincing. The real objective is to create "imaginary enemies" and then pretend to be a "victim" so that they can cook up a pretext for expansion of space armament and seeking absolute superiority. In fact, it is the United States that defines outer space as a "war fighting domain", establishes an independent space force and conducts frequent outer space combat exercises. At present, the weaponization and militarization of outer space has become an imminent threat to the international community, for which the US should be blamed.
China opposes the weaponization of outer space and the arms race in outer space. We travel in the sea of stars for the purpose of peaceful use of the space. For many years, China, Russia and many other countries have devoted themselves to making the international legal instruments that prevent the arms race in outer space, thus ensuring that the outer space can become a new domain for promoting the well-being of mankind instead of a new battlefield full of competition and confrontation. The major countries should take their responsibilities and behave accordingly. We hope the US can take the responsibility of a major country and take concrete actions to maintain lasting peace and stability in outer space.
Question: It is reported that Japan, US and France held joint exercises on the subjects of landing on offshore islands and urban warfare in southwestern Japan in mid-May. During the same period, the three countries, together with Australia, also conducted joint exercises in the East China Sea. Some analysts say that these exercises are aimed at deterring China. What's your comment?
Answer: We have noted the relevant reports. Some countries claimto support “freedom and openness", but are actually ganging up to put pressure on other countries. Such moves embody their obsession with the Cold War mindset and their enthusiasm for bloc confrontation, which go against the trend of the times for peace, development and cooperation.
China pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, adheres to the path of peaceful development, and is committed to building a community with a shared future for mankind. We are willing to work with other countries to maintain world peace and promote common development. At the same time we will firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and protect China’s security and development interests. At present, fighting the pandemic and economic recovery are two top priorities for regional countries and the international community. We hope relevant countries can make more concrete efforts for anti-pandemic cooperation and cause less trouble to regional security.
Question: According to reports, Australian defense minister recently said that the possibility for a conflict in the Taiwan Strait should not be underestimated. The Secretary of Australia’s Department of Home Affairs warned of an increasing drumbeat to war and argued that Australia must be ready for that. What's your comment?
Answer: There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an integral part of China. The one-China principle is a common understanding of the international community. Recently, the Australian side has taken a series of provocative actions, and some people have even incited confrontation and exaggerated the threat of war on Taiwan-related issues. Such actions are incredibly irresponsible. We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to that.
Currently, China-Australia relations face serious difficulties. The responsibility lies squarely with the Australian side. We have noted some rational voices in Australia calling on the Australian side to remain calm and prudent on the Taiwan question. For example, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd criticized the speculation about war with China as "pouring fuel on the fire unnecessarily". John Hewson, a former leader of Australia’s Liberal Party, wrote that the situation across the Taiwan Strait has nothing to do with Australia's national interests. We hope the Australian side will not go further down the wrong path and can do more things conducive to the relations between the two countries and the two militaries.
Question: According to reports, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently stated that the Philippine government has planned to build the Zhongye Island into a logistics centre and install high-resolution monitor and control systems on the islands and reefs held by Manila, thus strengthening its control over the situation in the South China Sea. What’s your comment?
Answer: We have noticed relevant reports. The Nansha Islands, including the Zhongye Island, are China’s inherent territory. China firmly opposes the illegal construction activities by relevant countries on the islands and reefs they have invaded and occupied in China’s Nansha Islands. The Chinese military will resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Question: According to reports, since the US and NATO began withdrawing troops from several bases in Afghanistan, terrorist attacks have frequently occurred in Afghanistan recently. What’s your comment?
Answer: China calls on relevant countries to earnestly consider their moral responsibilities to the Afghan people and withdraw troops in a responsible and orderly manner, in a bid to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan and avoid bringing more turmoil and suffering to the Afghan people.
China believes that the political reconciliation through an inclusive “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” process is the only way of and a fundamental solution to achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan. China will continue to provide firm support for the Afghan government and people in fighting against terrorism and safeguarding national security and stability, and is also willing to make joint efforts with all parties in the international community to help Afghanistan achieve peace as early as possible.
Question: It’s reported that May 29 marks the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, on the occasion of which the Chinese military may hold commemorative events. Please brief us on the specific arrangement for the activities.
Answer: On December 11, 2002, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly decided to designate May 29 as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers to pay tribute to all the men and women who have made outstanding contributions to the UN peacekeeping operations. To commemorate the 19th International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the Peacekeeping Affairs Center under China’s Ministry of National Defense and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in China have scheduled to jointly host a reception via video link in Beijing on May 28. The UN agencies in China, representatives of major troop-contributing countries (TCCs) and fund contributing countries (FCCs)for the UN peacekeeping operations in China, and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in China will attend the event.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the People's Republic of China's lawful seat in the United Nations. China is willing to join hands with all peace-loving countries across the world to defend and implement true multilateralism, uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core and adhere to a global order based on international law so as to build a beautiful world of lasting peace and universal security.
Question: It’s reported that the military has launched the precise applicationfor bedding and clothing recently. What’s the feedback of the officers and soldiers? Will the troops stationed at high altitudes, in border areas, onislands, or other places also enjoy the benefits from the “one-click ordering” service?
Answer: From May 11, the PLA and the People’s Armed Police (PAP) have fully launched the precise application forbedding and clothing, which has brought new changes in the field of military bedding and clothing supply. For instance, the supply standard has changed from “material standard" to "application index", the supply demand has changed from "unit application" to "individual application", and the supply procedure has changed from "step by step distribution" to "delivery as ordered", and the supply period has changed from "season-based distribution" to "real-time application and delivery". This personalized and refined new supply model is an important achievement in the military’s bedding and clothing supply reform，as well as a concrete measure to release the dividends of deepening national defense and military reforms, which has been widely recognized by the officers and soldiers.
Troops stationed in poor, remote areas have to be the key targets of the military bedding and clothing supply. It’s learned that the officers and soldiers stationed in plateau areas, border areas, and islands can now apply for the bedding and clothes via a precise application service platform according to their dress needs in combat readiness training and daily life.
Question: It’s noticed that since May, the face-to-face exchanges between youths from military and local units on studying experience and personal growth inspirations have drawn much public attention. Please brief us on the details.
Answer: To learn and internalize the spirit of President Xi’s important speech delivered during his recent visit to Tsinghua University, and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission and the Chinese Communist Youth League Central Committee organized a total of 16 youth role models, some from the military and some civilians, in two groups to visit 12 places, including troops stationed in Zhejiang, Fujian, and Xinjiang, and some local colleges and universities. The two teams shared with the soldiers or college students in those places about the CPC’s hard journey and great achievements in the past century. They also had in-depth exchange of experience in rendering meritorious service at their respective posts, and shared stories of their growth and success.
At the same time, four service members from the border defense troops in the Karakorum went to visit several military or civilian units to share their stories of guarding the border and defending the motherland. The major features of these activities are as follows:
First, the focus of the activities is on primary-level units. Among the 16 role models, there are elite and skilled soldiers, anti-epidemic pioneers, anti-drug heroes, elite female coast guards, and scientists dedicated to polar region research. They all come from primary-level units or work on the frontline in their areas. All the places they visited are also at primary-level. The role models used their own experience to inspire the young people there to perform their duties in the grassroots posts and make contributions to the society.
Second, the emphasis of combat readiness. During the event, one group of the role models went to the coastal regions in southeast China, and the other group went to the Gobi Desert in northwest China, where they boarded fighting vehicles and warships, visited squads and border sentry posts. They went to combat positions and training grounds, where they joined the service members in training and guard duty, providing professional knowledge counseling and skill training to soldiers. The Karakorum border defense troops presented the Chinese national flag once raised on the Pangong Lake to the National Flag Guards, a way of conveying their enthusiasm for defending the motherland.
Third, higher priority is given to mutual learning for mutual development. These youth role models were offered opportunities to have close-up experience of fine work styles, such as the spirit of manned spaceflight (characterized by hard work, great strength, solving key problems and dedication), the Karakorum spirit （characterized by devotion to border defense, hard work, selfless dedication and tenacity）, and the spirit of sea tigers (characterized by love for the Party and the motherland, selfless dedication, hard work, good military skills and caring for weapons, bravery and tenacity, capability to fight and win, unity and pursuit of excellence). They went to universities to visit historical venues and achievement exhibitions to gain a deeper understanding of the tremendous power of the fine tradition of the CPC. They also shared with the audience their own stories, the value of tough work, their dedication, and what they’ve learned from military training and exercises.
Relevant military and civilian departments will continue to organize youth exchange activities to inspire the sense of responsibility of our service members in defending the motherland and demonstrate the qualities of the young people in the new era. They will dedicate their youth to building a country with youthful vigor.