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 March 30, 2023.(Photo/mod.gov.cn)
Question: President Xi Jinping attended the plenary meeting of the delegation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police Force (PAP) during the first session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) and gave an important speech. What arrangements has the military made to implement the guiding principles of President Xi's important speech and the NPC session?
Answer: The first session of the 14th NPC is an important session held in the first year of fully implementing the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress. It is a meeting featuring democracy, unity, seeking truth and forging ahead. On the afternoon of March 8, President Xi Jinping attended the plenary meeting of the delegation of the PLA and PAP and gave an important speech. Standing on the new historical starting point of strengthening the country and rejuvenating the nation, and taking note of the new situations, new tasks and new requirements in strengthening the country and building a strong military, President Xi drew up a comprehensive plan for consolidating and enhancing integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities. Of great political and strategic significance, President Xi's speech has provided fundamental guidelines for us to comprehensively implement the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and open up new horizons in modernizing national defense and the military.
Recently, the General Office of the Central Military Commission issued a notice stressing that studying the guiding principle of the first session of the 14th NPC, particularly the guiding principles of President Xi's important speech, will be included into the theoretical study program of the Party committees' study groups of military units at and above the regiment level, the political education of the troops, and the teaching of political theories at military academies, so as to align our thoughts and actions with the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and President Xi.
First, we will strengthen political guidance, consistently forge cohesion and temper the spirit of the troops with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, intensify the study of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, and carry out comprehensive thematic education and implementation activities in order to contribute to the cause of building a strong military.
We will deeply understand the decisive significance of affirming Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and affirming the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, resolutely uphold Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole, and uphold the Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership, implement the CMC chairman responsibility system, so as to lay a firm political foundation for upholding Comrade Xi Jinping's core position and obeying the Party's command.
Second, we will comprehensively enhance the military's capability to fight and win, intensify military training and preparedness to raise the quality and standard of military training. We will develop and make good use of new-domain forces with new combat capabilities, so as to continuously augment the deterrence and combat capabilities of the military.
Third, we will focus on high-quality development, keep tackling tough issues in military reform, earnestly put emphasis on the implementation of the 14th Five-year Plan, improve effectiveness of military governance, and broaden and integrate the channels of talent cultivation, so as to advance national defense and military modernization in both quality and efficiency.
Fourth, we will carry forward the practical work style, conduct extensive research and fact-finding activities, take on difficult issues and situations with a problem-oriented approach, and further promote full and rigorous Party and military governance. We will strengthen the capacity building of Party organizations at various levels to foster grassroots Party organizations with all-around competence and cement the foundation for the secure development of the troops, thus providing a powerful guarantee for achieving the centenary goal of the PLA by 2027.
Question: This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Dual Supportings (the military supporting the government and cherishing the people, and the government, social groups and the people supporting the military and providing preferential treatment for the families of service members and martyrs) campaign in Yan'an. When attending the plenary meeting of the PLA and PAP delegation during the first session of the 14th NPC, President Xi urged efforts to carry forward the glorious tradition of supporting the government and cherishing the people, and supporting the military and providing preferential treatment for the families of service members and martyrs, and consolidate and develop the military-government and military-civilian unity in the new era. Please tell us more about the historical evolution of the Dual Supportings work and what arrangements have been made to implement the guiding principle of President Xi's important speech.
Answer: The Dual Supportings campaign is a fine tradition and political advantage exclusive to the CPC, the Chinese military and the Chinese people. It is a great invention by the Chinese military and people under the leadership of the CPC. Around the Spring Festival of 1943, at the initiation of Mao Zedong and other veteran proletarian revolutionaries, the government of the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia border region and the Eighth Route Army troops stationed there launched the grand campaign of supporting the army and providing preferential treatment for the families of service members and martyrs, and supporting the government and cherishing the people. The Dual Supportings campaign, like a small spark that ignited a prairie fire, soon spread from Yan'an to the rest of the country, serving as a magic weapon that enabled us to overcome all hardships and difficulties and march from one victory to another.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Dual Supportings campaign in Yan'an. When giving an important speech at the plenary meeting of the PLA and PAP delegation to the first session of the 14th NPC, President Xi highlighted the great significance of the Dual Supportings work for consolidating and enhancing integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities and its practical requirements. Making it an important political task to study and implement the guiding principles of President Xi's important speech, the military and local authorities at various levels will take proactive actions to live up to their mission and duty, and endeavor to push the Dual Supportings work in the new era to a higher level and break new ground.
First, we will intensify political guidance for the military and the civilians to reach a unified understanding that it is the common responsibility of both sides to consolidate and enhance integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities, so as to converge the will and strength of both the military and the civilians under the leadership of the Party.
Second, we will give full play to the Dual Supportings work to maximize national strategic capabilities, make good and flexible use of advantageous military and civilian resources, and truly implement the "double lists" system whereby the military and the civilian sectors do substantive work to support each other, so that the goals of strengthening the country and the military will be achieved together.
Third, we will highlight the role of Dual Supportings in serving military preparedness to promote greater synergy for winning battles, firmly and clearly focus on military preparedness, and improve the emergency response mechanisms of the Dual Supportings system, take innovative measures to support the military with science and technology, and support the frontline troops under informationalized conditions. We will blade new trails to serve military training and preparedness in emerging fields, and make strenuous efforts to address the pressing difficulties and concerns of service members.
Fourth, we will step up publicity efforts and to promote Dual Supportings practice, extensively carry out publicity of Dual Supportings and national defense education, hold activities to acknowledge Dual Supportings models and encourage the military and the people to work together to promote cultural and ethical progress, publicize exemplary Dual Supportings case and continuously nurture a social trend that the military and the civilian sectors support each other like members of one family.
Loving our people and our military. As long as the military and the civilian sectors work together in one mind, we are sure to achieve the Chinese dream of nation rejuvenation and jointly create a better future.
Question: Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Russia. The two heads of state directed the competent departments of the two countries to enhance communication and work more closely with each other to deliver new and greater progress in China-Russia practical cooperation. Please brief us on the military cooperation and exchanges between China and Russia.
Answer: President Xi Jinping held sincere, friendly and fruitful talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 21. They reached a string of new and important consensuses, drawing together a new blueprint for the future development of bilateral relations. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the China-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has made steady progress on a high level. The strategic communication and pragmatic cooperation between Chinese and Russian militaries have continued to reach new heights and made new progress, enriching the bilateral relationship with new strategic connotation.
The friendship between China and Russia stands long and solid. China-Russia relationship is not like the military-political alliance during the Cold War, but one that transcends that mode of interstate relations, featuring no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting at any third party. The Chinese military stands ready to make concerted efforts with the Russian military to fully implement the important consensuses reached by the two heads of state, further strengthen strategic communication and coordination, and organize regular joint maritime and air patrols, exercises and training. We will strengthen mil-to-mil exchanges and cooperation including those under existing mechanisms, further deepen mutual military trust, work together to implement the Global Security Initiative, jointly safeguard international justice and fairness, and continue to make new contributions to preserving international and regional security and stability and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Question: April 23, 2023 marks the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Will the navy hold any celebration activities?
Answer: The PLA Navy will organize a series of publicity and education activities under the theme of "Set Sail for a New Era and Forge Ahead on a New Journey" around April 23, 2023. During this period, all naval units will hold national flag-raising ceremonies. A special event to salute the naval heroes will be held at the PLA Naval Museum in Qingdao City, Shandong Province. Vessel open days are to be held in Qingdao, Dalian, Shanghai, Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Zhanjiang and other cities. Foreign naval attachés in China will be invited to visit naval troops and academies. Besides, naval military music concerts will be held at the Grand Theatre and May Fourth Square in Qingdao. Featured activities including "Warship and City" forum and coastal defense education program under the theme of "Journey across China's Territorial Waters" are devised to promote mutual support between the military and the government and between the military and the people. And, other theme events like municipal outdoor light exhibition and public communication activities will also be carried out during this period.
This year's series of publicity and education activities on the founding anniversary of the PLA Navy will comprehensively show the new look of the people's navy in pursuing its dreams in the new era, and fully demonstrate its new achievements in fulfilling the PLA's centenary goal and elevating the PLA Navy to world-class standards.
Question: It is reported that a working group of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) attended the relevant meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states in India recently. Please introduce more about the meetings and Chinese military's participation in the defense and security cooperation within the SCO this year.
Answer: Recently a working group of the Ministry of National Defense visited India to participate in a meeting of international military cooperation departments of the defense ministries of SCO member states. They actively introduced the spirit of the 20th CPC National Congress, elaborated the Global Security Initiative in depth, and provided opinions and suggestions on deepening SCO defense cooperation. In mid-to-late March, the Chinese side also sent delegates to India to attend respectively the Workshop on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and the Conference on Military Medicine under the SCO Defense Ministers Meeting, and participated in the Expert Working Group (EWG) of the Defense Ministries of SCO Member States through video link. During these meetings, the Chinese delegates had close and extensive communication with other participants, which enhanced mutual trust and cooperation among the parties.
Going forward, China is willing to cooperate with defense departments and militaries of all SCO member states to vigorously promote the "Shanghai Spirit", steadily advance practical cooperation on high-level exchanges, education and training, military procuratorial work, etc, thus contributing to building a closer SCO community with a shared future.
Question: According to the report, the Security Belt-2023 joint maritime exercise among China, Iran and Russia has been held recently. Please share with us more information.
Answer: The navies of China, Iran and Russia held the Security Belt-2023 joint maritime exercise in the Gulf of Oman from March 15 to 19. This is the third joint maritime exercise among the three countries following those in 2019 and 2022. The three parties dispatched 12 vessels and special operations and diving contingents for the exercise and conducted training on subjects including aerial search, armed rescue, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations and maritime rescue, and held a fleet review.
This exercise has strengthened the joint operational capabilities of the three navies for diversified maritime military missions, and further deepened their traditional friendship and practical cooperation, making a positive contribution to maintaining marine security, regional peace and stability, and building a maritime community with a shared future.
Participating ships sail to the designated sea area. (Photo by Wu Kangci)
Ships participate in drills. (Photo by Wu Kangci)
PLANS Nanning participates in the fleet review. (Photo by Wu Kangci)
Question: It is reported that the US, the UK and Australia recently issued a joint statement that the US might sell three Virginia-class nuclear submarines to Australia in the early 2030s and possibly two more thereafter. The three countries also plan to cooperate in the development of new nuclear submarines based on the US and UK technologies. The Australian Department of Defense said that Australia had started training and other work related to the US and UK nuclear submarines. What's your comment on that?
Answer: China firmly opposes the establishment of the so-called "AUKUS Trilateral Security Partnership" among the US, the UK and Australia. This kind of small circle, dominated by Cold War mentality, is of no benefit but great harm. First, it creates nuclear proliferation risks. Nuclear submarine cooperation among the three countries represents the first transfer of nuclear-submarine power reactors and weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium from nuclear-weapon states to a non-nuclear-weapon state in history. There is a huge risk of the proliferation of nuclear technologies and materials, which seriously violates the objectives and purposes of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and impacts the international nuclear non-proliferation system. Second, it may induce an arms race. Once the "Pandora's box" is opened, the regional strategic balance will be broken and the security of regional countries will be seriously threatened, which may trigger a new round of arms race. Third, it intensifies regional tensions. Such cooperation is an extension of individual countries' nuclear deterrence policies, and a game tool for it to build an "Asia-Pacific version of NATO" and maintain its own hegemony, which seriously affects the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries in the region are deeply worried about this.
All good principles should adapt to changing times to remain relevant. China urges relevant countries to recognize the development trend of the times, abandon the selfish ideas that undermine the interests of others, listen to the voices of the international community with an open mind, earnestly fulfill their international responsibilities and obligations, and contribute more to regional peace and stability.
Question: It is reported that the United States recently announced a defense budget request of up to 886 billion US dollars for the fiscal year 2024. US Secretary of Defense stated that this budget sought to meet the pacing challenge from China. Meanwhile, the British government recently released the Integrated Review Refresh 2023, saying that in response to challenges posed by China and Russia, Britain plans to provide defense with five billion pounds of additional funding in the next two years, with defense spending up to 2.5% of GDP. Please comment on that.
Answer: We firmly oppose the increase of military budgets under the pretext of "China military threat" by relevant countries. China has always been a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of international order. For all countries, China is an epoch-making opportunity, not a challenge. For a long time, it is the US that has always held the highest defense budget among all countries, and also the US that has waged war and created turbulence around the world. The United States is indeed the greatest threat to world peace, security and stability. Meanwhile, we urge the British side to take a right attitude, have a correct perception of China, and stop hyping up the so-called challenges posed by China.
Question: During recent meetings between the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the Philippines, they expressed concern over China's increased military activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea, implying that China is unilaterally changing the status quo with its strength. They said that the Japanese Self-Defense Force and the Philippine military will closely work together and strengthen their cooperation with the US. What's your comment, please?
Answer: China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. We consistently advocate that cooperation among countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability, and should not target or harm the interests of third parties. For some time, some countries have clung to the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, and have engaged in building "a small yard with high fences" and military expansion under the excuse of so-called "Chinese coercion" and "China military threat". We firmly oppose this.
It needs to be emphasized that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the adjacent waters. In response to the infringements and provocations of certain country on issues concerning the Diaoyu Islands and the South China Sea, the Chinese military will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.