By Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, Deputy Director General of the Information Office of China's 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.)
Friends from the media, good afternoon. I’m Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, the newly appointed Deputy Director of the Information Office under China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson of the MND.
Previously, I served in the former Beijing Military Region, the General Office of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and the Politics and Law Commission of the CMC.
As the 7th spokesperson of the MND, I look forward to candid communication and close collaboration with media friends in my new job. I will bear in mind the original aspiration and missions of the military, be thoughtful, perceptive, and pragmatic, and strive to be an “honorable messenger” that conveys information about China’s national defense and military development in a comprehensive, accurate, and timely manner. Thank you.
Question: It is reported that the Regulation of the Communist Party of China on Party Building in the Military was recently introduced. Some comments say the Regulation is a basic guideline for strengthening Party building of the military in the new era. Can you elaborate on the significance and key points of the Regulation?
Answer: The Party’s leadership and party building hold the key to the development of the people’s military. It concerns the success of building a strong military and the lasting peace and stability of the nation and the Party. The promulgation of the Regulation on Party Building in the Military is an important move to implement the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress. The Regulation is of great importance for the military to strengthen “Four Consciousnesses”, “Four Matters of Confidence” and “Two Upholds”, follow the CMC Chairman responsibility system, ensure the Party’s absolute leadership over the military, effective fulfillment of the military’s missions and tasks in the new era, and unchanged nature, purpose and character of the people’s military, and achieve the Party’s goal of building a strong, world-class military on all fronts in the new era.
The Regulation consists of 7 chapters with a total of 79 articles, with the following 6 key points. First, the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is the underlying guideline. The document earnestly implements President Xi’s thought on building a strong military and translates his important instructions and requirements on intensifying Party building and the deployments of the 19th CPC National Congress into clear-cut rules and regulations as well as rigorous disciplines.
Second, the Constitution of the Communist Party of China is the fundamental basis. The principles, systems and requirements for Party building laid out in the Party Constitution are elaborated to fully reflect the new rules and new requirements made in the intra-Party regulations developed and issued after the 18th CPC National Congress.
Third, the Party’s absolute leadership over the military is upheld. The document lays down specific provisions on a string of major issues, including the principles and systems regarding the Party’s absolute leadership over the military, the implementation of CMC Chairman responsibility system, and the institution of leadership.
Fourth, the military’s main duty and task of combat preparedness is prioritized. The strategic requirement of “Four Establishments” is implemented to apply combat force standards and real-combat needs in the whole process and all areas of Party building of the military.
Fifth, institutional innovation focusing on the new era, new mission and new system is emphasized. Efforts will be made to fully employ the outcomes of the CMC meeting on Party building and the fresh experience gained by the troops to make sure all standards and norms are aligned with the new leading and commanding system, matched with the new size, structure and force compositions, and consistent with the task of effectively fulfilling the military’s missions and tasks in the new era.
Sixth, the demand for comprehensive enforcement of strict Party discipline is implemented. Strict standards and requirements are integrated in every link of the military’s Party building efforts in a problem-oriented approach.
Question: On September 8, President Xi Jinping gave an important speech at the meeting commending role models in the country's fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, in which he comprehensively summarized the great epidemic-fighting spirit. What will the military do to carry forward this great spirit and advance the cause of building a strong military in the new era?
Answer: In his important speech at the meeting commending role models in the country's fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, President Xi pointed out that in this most courageous fight against such a serious epidemic, the Chinese people and Chinese nation fought fearlessly and forged the great spirit of combating the outbreak, which features putting people's lives first, nationwide solidarity, sacrifice, respecting science, and a sense of mission for humanity.
During the outbreak, the people’s military steadfastly followed the decisions and orders of the CPC Central Committee, the CMC and President Xi. It fought on the front line and tried its best to protect people’s safety and health. The military has played an important role and made great contributions to the prevention and control of the pandemic. Facts have proved once again that the people’s military is a heroic military that the Party and people can always rely on.
The military will study and internalize the messages conveyed in President Xi’s important speeches and carry forward the great epidemic-fighting spirit. We will bear firmly in mind our nature and purpose, earnestly fulfill our missions, and be ready to step up, fight and win battles whenever the Party and people need us. We will fulfill our missions and tasks in the new era with concrete actions, and provide vital support and staunch security guarantee for achieving the Two Centenary goals and realizing the Chinese Dream of great national rejuvenation.
Question: In September this year, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe attended the joint meeting of the heads of defense departments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization members in Moscow, Russia. After that, he visited Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines. What are the outcomes of these visits?
Answer: On September 4, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe attended the joint meeting of the heads of defense departments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization members and gave a keynote speech. This meeting was of special significance on the occasion of commemorating the 75th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.
During the meeting, Minister Wei reiterated China’s commitment to the path of peaceful development and to building a world featuring universal security. The Chinese military has the full determination, capacity, and confidence to defend its own national sovereignty, security and development interests. It stands ready to work with all parties to earnestly implement the consensus reached among the heads of state, carry forward the Shanghai Spirit, push for new progress in bilateral and multilateral military cooperation, and make new and greater contributions to safeguarding global and regional peace and stability.
The heads of state of China and Russia have maintained close communication via telephone or correspondence this year, driving the high-level development of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. This was the second time that Minister Wei visited Russia this year after attending the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory against the Nazis in World War II.
During the recent visit, he held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on such issues as bilateral relations and international and regional security situations, and they reached important consensus on the two militaries’ anti-epidemic cooperation, personnel training, and China’s participation in the Kavkaz-2020 (Caucasus-2020) strategic exercise. This fully demonstrates that under the strategic leadership of the two countries’ heads of state, the mil-to-mil relationship between China and Russia has progressed positively and injected new content into the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in a new era.
During his visit to the four Southeast Asian countries, Minister Wei held talks with their state and defense leaders, who expresses their respect and congratulation to China on successfully controlling the COVID-19 pandemic under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and their gratitude to the Chinese government and military for their assistance in combating the pandemic. They expressed their willingness to continue intensifying defense and security cooperation with China and contributing to regional peace and stability.
Minister Wei had in-depth exchange of views with officials from those countries over the South China Sea issue. They agreed that maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea is a common responsibility of all regional countries as it serves their common interests. All sides are willing to make joint efforts with China, meet each other halfway, step up communication and consultation, properly manage differences, and promote maritime cooperation to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Question: We’ve noticed the transportation of military recruits across the country. Please brief us on the general situation and features of military recruitment this year.
Answer: Based on the national arrangement of pandemic prevention and control, the recruitment work originally scheduled for the first half of this year has been postponed and combined with the work in the second half. At the moment, the transportation of new recruits is being carried out nationwide in an orderly manner, and this year’s recruitment will be completed at the end of September. There are four features of this year’s recruitment work.
First, there are more than 3 million applicants this year, showing growing enthusiasm in young people for joining the military and serving the country.
Second, the quality of the recruits is improved continuously. Primary statistics show a notable increase in the ratio of college recruits, especially college graduates, resulting in a larger scale and better structure of college recruits.
Third, the Ministry of Education and the Defense Mobilization Department of the Central Military Commission have jointly released notices and rolled out a series of policies and measures to attract more excellent youths at the draft age to join the ranks.
Fourth, flexible online approaches are adopted for military recruitment this year, including online publicity and education, policy inquiry, training, and joint examination and review, to reduce the contact and flow of people.
The military is a school where passionate young man and women grow up, and a big melting pot to temper their mind and body. With the refinement of policies and institutions, and the rising status of service members, we believe more talented young people will choose to join the military and serve the country. Hopefully, younger generations will keep forging ahead and make contributions to the great undertaking of strengthening the armed forces.
Question: Recently, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has repeatedly made negative statements about China and the Chinese military in public. Esper said that after World War II, the US led the world to establish a “rules-based international order”, and China and Russia are challenging this order. And China may supply artificial intelligence surveillance equipment to "authoritarian regimes." Esper also said that even if the US aims to contain China, it still hopes to continue to work with China. Do you have any comment on this?
Answer: We have noticed the relevant remarks. China firmly opposes the false accusations and unfounded speculations made by the US.
The Charter of the United Nations stipulates that the UN is to maintain international peace and security, develop international friendly relations, enhance universal peace, and promote international cooperation. It emphasizes that all member states should adhere to the principle of sovereign equality and resolve their international disputes by peaceful means. All member states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. All member states of the UN enjoy the rights stipulated in the UN Charter, and should fulfill their obligations stipulated in the UN Charter.
China firmly defends the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, firmly safeguards the international system with the UN as the core and the international order based on international law, and conducts exchanges and cooperation with other countries in accordance with the basic norms of international relations. China has always been a supporter and practitioner of international fairness and justice. Being the second largest contributor to both peacekeeping assessment and UN membership fees, and the largest troop-contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China actively participates in the UN peacekeeping operations. Following the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the Chinese military has dispatched over 40,000 peacekeepers for 25 UN peacekeeping operations over the past 30 years. They have faithfully performed their duties and made positive contributions to world peace and common development, demonstrating the image of a disciplined force for peace and justice. The US, on the other hand, has insisted on pursuing unilateralism, protectionism, and power politics.
For some time, the US has been evading its international responsibilities. It has withdrawn or announced its withdrawal from many international organizations and international treaties including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization, the Paris Agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Treaty on Open Skies. The US still owes more than $2 billion in UN dues and peacekeeping assessments. It is a violator of international rules and a destroyer of the international order. The international community has a fair judge on the images of China and the US.
It needs to be pointed out that the historical pace of the Chinese nation's great rejuvenation is unstoppable. China and the US will gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries. We hope that the US can see the facts, treat and handle the relations between the two countries and the two armed forces correctly. China is committed to developing a relationship with the US featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. Meanwhile, China will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty, security, and development interests.
All winds are headwinds for a ship that lose its direction. It is hoped that the US will work with China towards the same goal, strengthen communication and understanding, manage and control risks and differences, show good faith on cooperation and be consistent with its words and deeds, and work together with China to promote the relations between the two countries and the two militaries.
Question: According to media reports, some PLA aircraft have been conducting drills in areas around the Taiwan, and the leader of the Taiwan region said that the mainland should exercise restraint. What's your comment, please?
Answer: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The PLA’s live-force exercises in the Taiwan Straits demonstrate our resolve and capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. They are targeted against foreign interference and the few “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and their activities. In disregard of the safety and well-being of Taiwan compatriots, the Democratic Progressive Party has been stoking up hostility and confrontation across the Taiwan Straits, and made provocations to seek independence, which undermined peace and stability across the Straits. Its attempt for independence is doomed to fail. If the "Taiwan independence" forces dare to separate Taiwan from China in any name or by any means, we will resolutely defeat them at all costs.
Question: According to US media reports, the Chinese Navy’s two aircraft carriers Liaoning and Shandong have recently performed training missions at sea at the same time, focusing on the improvement of dual-carrier combat capability. Please confirm and comment.
Answer: Liaoning aircraft carrier and Shandong aircraft carrier of the PLA Navy are carrying out routine training and sea trials respectively, aiming to test the performance of weapons and equipment and the training level, and to improve the capability to perform tasks.
Question: According to media reports, the Tibet Military Command recently held a joint combined arms combat drill. Could you please confirm?
Answer: Recently, the Tibet Military Command organized several day-and-night live-fire field training exercises to test the adaptability and strike capability of the troops in ultra-high altitude areas. The exercises mentioned above are within the annual training plan and are not targeted at any specific country.
Question: The Chinese military has sent troops to Russia for the "Kavkaz-2020" strategic military exercise this month. Please provide more details.
Answer: In accordance with the agreement between China and Russia, the Chinese participating troops arrived in Russia in mid-September for the "Kavkaz-2020" strategic exercise. They are currently conducting field exercise at the Kapustin Yar Range in Astrakhan region, Russia.
The Chinese participating troops are mainly from the PLA Western Theater Command. At present, they have completed tasks such as designated long-range cross-border force projection, the establishment of command bodies, pre-combat training, and joint campaign planning.
The exercise has enhanced the capabilities of the multinational forces in jointly responding to security threats and maintaining regional peace and stability. It will further improve the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.
Question: The International Army Games (IAG) 2020 has wrapped up in Russia this month. Could you please brief us on the participation of the Chinese side?
Answer: The International Army Games 2020 was rounded off recently. The Chinese military participated in six events and achieved satisfactory results by ranking 1st in four single contests, 2nd in four group contests and 3rd in two group contests. Chinese military’s participation in the IAG 2020 has met the purpose and yielded the effect of strengthening the China-Russia strategic mutual trust, deepening mil-to-mil exchanges and cooperation, and promoting innovation in military training.
Question: The white paper titled “China's Armed Forces: 30 Years of UN Peacekeeping Operations” released last Friday pointed out that fulfilling the responsibilities of a major country, maintaining world peace, and contributing to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind are the original aspiration and missions of the Chinese military in participating in UN peacekeeping operations. How do you understand that?
Answer: The original aspiration and missions of the Chinese army to participate in UN peacekeeping operations mainly come from four aspects. First, the pursuit of peace is in the genes of the Chinese nation. "Peace" culture has a long history in China. The philosophy of upholding peace, amity, and harmony has been passed down from generation to generation. Second, Chinese people care about the well-being of humanity. China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa. Third, serving people is the fundamental purpose of the people's armed forces. They serve the people wholeheartedly and always put the people's interests first. Finally, China honors its responsibilities as a major country. China is a founding member of the UN and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. China's active participation in UN peacekeeping operations is to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country.
We believe that the UN is an important platform for multilateral diplomacy, and peacekeeping operation is an important practice of multilateralism. The peacekeeping operations led by the UN can help maximize the active forces of all countries to maintain international peace and security. China is a staunch supporter and practitioner of multilateralism. China's active participation in UN peacekeeping operations will help maintain the role and status of the international system with the UN at its core, and will help work with other countries to promote peace and security for mankind.
A few days later we will celebrate the National Day holiday, which marks the 71st birthday of the People’s Republic of China. Here I would like to wish our great country a happy birthday and peace and prosperity.
Those aspiring for high goals will succeed; those endeavoring to overcome difficulties will progress. This year, we will realize the goals of national defense and military development for 2020, and embark on a new journey to achieve basic modernization of China’s national defense and military services and build a world-class military.
The Chinese military has the resolve, confidence and capability to surmount all hardships and conquer all threats and challenges. We will provide solid strategic support for realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and make new and greater contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind!
Resume of Senior Colonel Tan Kefei
Tan Kefei, male, was born in 1975 in Liaoning. He was admitted by the PLA Information Engineering University in 1994 and graduated in 1998, after which he has worked as assistant translator, secretary, legal officer, and vice tribunal director of a military court. In December 2019, Tan was appointed as Deputy Director of the MND Information Office and Spokesperson of the MND. He bears the rank of senior colonel. He graduated from the Law School of Peking University in 2008 with a MA in law. Tan is married and has a daughter.