Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of National Defense on August 31

By Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Director General of the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. (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.)

Senior Colonel Wu Qian: Friends from media, good afternoon. It's great to see all of you again. First, on behalf of our team from the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND), I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all of you. I have two pieces of news to announce at the top.

First, the China-Thailand "Blue Strike-2023" joint naval training.

Based on the annual plan for international military cooperation, China and Thailand will hold "Blue Strike-2023" joint naval training in the Gulf of Thailand and Sattahip in early September. The training will cover subjects including sniping tactics, jungle survival, search and rescue at sea, and cross-deck helicopter landing. It is designed to improve the training level and interoperability of participating troops, enhance practical cooperation between the two navies, and strengthen their capabilities of jointly addressing regional security threats.

Second, the PLA Army's participation in the "Pure Homeland-2023" multinational joint demining operation.

According to the consensus reached by the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) Experts' Working Group (EWG) on Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA), the PLA Army will send a task force to Cambodia for the multinational joint demining operation code-named "Pure Homeland-2023" from the end of August to late September. It is a major event co-hosted by China and Cambodia as co-chairs of the ADMM-Plus EWG on HMA. This event is aimed at strengthening cooperation between member states and institutions, resolving regional mine problems, and contributing to the safety and well-being of people in the region.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. (Photo/mod.gov.cn)

Question: As approved by the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Study Outline of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military (2023 version) has been published and distributed throughout the military. Could you please brief us on relevant details and specific measures the military will take to study and use the book?

Answer: Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military is an important component of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It is a valuable theoretical outcome reached from the Party's unremitting efforts in building a strong military with Chinese characteristics. It is a fundamental guideline for the modernization of our national defense and military and the building of a world-class military in all respects. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, we have made historic achievements and seen historic changes in the cause of building a strong military in the new era. This fully shows the truth and strength in it.

As approved by the CMC, the Study Outline of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military (2023 version) has been distributed in the military. It is an important step for the Chinese military to strengthen the comprehension of the decisive significance of the "Two Establishments" (the establishment of Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and the establishment of the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era), better study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and have comprehensive understanding of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military.

The book is consisted of introduction, main body, and conclusion, totaling 14 chapters, 59 sections and 150 subsections. It expounds on the significance, system, essence and requirements of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military in a comprehensive and systematic manner. Recording the latest development of the theory, it is a basic textbook for deep and solid learning of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military.

The CMC has issued a notice to make arrangements for the study and use of the book. Firstly, we will carry out the themed education campaign on the study and implementation of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the educational and practical activities of "Studying Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, and Contributing to the Cause of Building a Strong Military" in a well-coordinated way. The book will be incorporated into theoretical study programs of Party committees of military units, theoretical training of officers, political education of troops, and political theory teaching in military academies. Service members are required to read, study, and comprehend the book, and gain a deep understanding of the Eleven Clarifications and Marxist military views and methodology adapted to the Chinese context and the needs of our time. Secondly, we will deepen research and enhance publicity. Theoretical workers will strengthen research and interpretation. And military media and press will step up efforts to write relevant commentaries and theoretical articles. Military units at higher levels are required to provide tutorials to primary-level units, and senior military officials need to give lectures to and share experience with primary-level troops. Thirdly, we will carry forward sound styles of learning. We will study the book to forge inner strength, gain wisdom, improve Party conduct and motivate actions, promote the integration of learning, thinking and using, and of understanding, believing and practicing, and strive to open up new prospects for defense and military modernization.

Question: The Chinese defense minister and the US defense secretary didn't meet with each other during this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue, and the requests for phone calls by US senior military officials' were repeatedly rejected by China. It's widely believed that military-to-military communications between China and the US are stopped, which worries the international community. Does the Chinese side have any plan to resume communications with the US military? And when will the relationship between the two militaries return to normal? My second question is that the US State Department recently notified that the US, for the first time, will provide Taiwan with military aid worth about 80 million US dollars through the Foreign Military Financing program. Some media reports said that this move would anger China. What countermeasures will the Chinese side take?  

Answer: First, I want to clarify that China-US mil-to-mil engagement is not stopped. The two sides maintain candid and effective communication through military diplomatic channels. There are indeed many difficulties and obstacles in the relationship, which are caused by the US side. For some time, the US has been sticking to a wrong perception of China and taking unreasonable measures to contain and suppress China. It has brutally interfered in China's internal affairs by selling arms to and strengthening military ties with Taiwan. The US military has sent naval and air troops to China's vicinity to conduct provocative and deterrent military operations. Moreover, the US refuses to remove unfair sanctions on China's CMC leader. The Chinese military has every reason to take countermeasures. We have said many times that we have our principles and bottom lines for having communication and dialogues. The US side, when it is undermining China’s national interests, should have no illusions that the Chinese military would communicate like nothing happened. As an old Chinese saying goes, it is up to the one who ties the bell to the tiger to untie it. We require the US side to show real sincerity and take concrete measures to create conditions for the mil-to-mil relationship to return to the right track.

On your second question, whether it is military aid or arms sale to Taiwan, we are firmly opposed to that. What needs to be emphasized is that Taiwan's security relies on joint efforts of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait under the one-China principle, rather than US military aid and arms sales to Taiwan. The US military aid and arms sales to Taiwan only serve the interests of its own military-industrial complex, but harm the safety and well-being of Taiwan compatriots. In response, the PLA will, as always, resolutely take all necessary countermeasures.

Question: According to foreign media reports, the 2023 Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence conference was recently held in Fiji, and a leader from China's CMC Joint Staff Department led a delegation to attend this conference. Can you confirm that and brief us on relevant information?  

Answer: Gen. Xu Qiling, Deputy Chief of the CMC Joint Staff Department led a delegation to visit Fiji and participate in the 2023 Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense conference there. Gen. Xu made remarks at the conference on President Xi's Global Security Initiative and the vision of building an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future. He underlined the Chinese military's commitment to safeguarding regional peace and stability and called on militaries in the region to strengthen communication and cooperation to deal with common challenges like climate change, natural disasters and cyber security. His words were well received by other parties. During the conference, Gen. Xu had talks with representatives from many countries including East-Timor, Singapore, Thailand and the US. During his visit to Fiji, Gen. Xu met with Hon. Pio Tikoduadua, Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, and Maj. Gen. Jone Kalouniwai, Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

Question: Recently, overseas social media played up that a PLA Navy (PLAN) Type 093 nuclear submarine crashed near the Taiwan Strait. Can you confirm that?

Answer: Relevant information is completely false. We hope that internet users could follow authoritative information released by China's official accounts, and not be misled by ill-minded information.

Question: It's reported that during his visit to South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and proposed to strengthen cooperation between legislative institutions, political parties, militaries and sub-national governments of the two sides. Could you please brief us on military-to-military exchanges between China and South Africa?  

Answer: President Xi Jinping's successful state visit to South Africa will inject strong impetus into building a high-quality China-South Africa community with a shared future. China and South Africa established diplomatic ties 25 years ago. Under the guidance of the two heads of state, China-South Africa relations have entered a "golden era" and the military-to-military relationship is stronger than ever before. The two militaries have achieved fruitful results in high-level exchanges, joint exercises and training, equipment and technological cooperation and international peacekeeping. This February, China, Russia and South Africa held the second maritime joint exercise in waters and air space near South Africa. The exercise demonstrated high-level strategic mutual trust among us and greatly pushed forward security cooperation of BRICS countries.

As an old saying in China goes, "True friendship defies geographical distance." True friends fear no strong power and will always support each other. The Chinese military will work with its South African counterpart to faithfully implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, deepen strategic communication, strengthen practical cooperation, and improve institutional mechanisms to further grow the military-to-military relationship.

Question: The UAE Air Force and the PLA Air Force recently held the "Falcon Shield-2023" joint air force training in Xinjiang, China. What is the intention of this joint training? Will the two sides have similar military cooperation in the future?

Answer: We have released relevant information earlier. "Falcon Shield-2023" is the first joint training between the PLA Air Force and the UAE Air Force. It marks a new starting point for practical cooperation between China and the UAE. In recent years, with the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, China-UAE military-to-military relationship has developed rapidly and achieved productive outcomes in many areas. Going forward, the two sides will faithfully follow through on the consensus reached by the two heads of state, strengthen strategic communication, deepen practical cooperation, and build a stronger military-to-military relationship.

Question: The US is planning to add 20 new air defense sites packed with surface-to-air interceptors and radars in Guam to make the island the most densely protected place anywhere on the planet. Some analyses point out that the US military's so-called defense system building is actually highly aggressive and will pose a big threat to regional peace and security. What's your comment?

Answer: The US has been using non-existent threats as pretexts to advance forward deployment of military assets in the Asia-Pacific, which undermined security interests of other countries and heightened regional tensions. China is firmly opposed to these efforts. In recent years, the US has withdrawn from legal instruments on arms control including the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It continues to deploy global anti-missile systems and seeks to deploy land-based intermediate ballistic missiles in Europe and the Asia-Pacific for its own absolute security and military superiority. In fact, these acts have increased the risks of conflicts and confrontation.

Whether Guam is secure or not depends on what role the US wants it to play. If Guam were to be an outpost to wage wars, it would not be secure even if it were armed to the teeth. We hope the US side could abandon the obsolete cold-war and zero-sum mindset and narrow-minded geopolitical thinking, and do more things that are conducive to world peace and stability rather than the opposite.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. (Photo/mod.gov.cn)

Question: Recently, the military exercises carried out by the PLA around the Taiwan Strait have attracted much attention. Taiwan authorities released photos of its military aircraft monitoring the PLA military aircraft, with the caption of four Chinese characters "恶邻退散", which means "evil neighbors go away". What's your comment, please?

Answer: Let me respond with four words first, "Taiwan Independence" will fail. The PLA deployed appropriate forces for the exercises which targeted at deterring the "Taiwan Independence" separatist forces and foreign interference. We warn the DPP authorities not to hold back the tide with a broom. Otherwise, they will walk into a blind alley.

Question: According to reports, the third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum is underway in China. Some comments said that this forum has become an important platform for China and Africa to have dialogues on peace and security and promote exchanges and cooperation. Can you give us more information on that?  

Answer: The third China-Africa Peace and Security Forum opened in China on August 28 and will last until September 2. On August 29, the plenary meeting of the forum was held in Beijing. State Councilor and Defense Minister General Li Shangfu attended the meeting and delivered a keynote speech. More than a hundred defense ministers or senior representatives from the African Union (AU) and nearly 50 African countries attended the forum.

During the conference, participants had in-depth exchanges on the theme of "Practice the Global Security Initiative and Enhance China-Africa Solidarity and Cooperation" and reached extensive common understanding. The forum has the following three characteristics. First, there is a louder call for peace. Participants agree that the international community faces multiple rarely-seen risks and challenges. The world is once again standing at a historical crossroads with prevailing hegemonism and resurging Cold War mentality. It should be a common pursuit of all countries to safeguard world peace and security and promote global development and prosperity. Second, there is a stronger desire for development. Participants emphasize that countries should take firm control of their own destiny, step up regional revitalization, strengthen multilateral coordination and cooperation, resolve problems with development, eliminate the soil of insecurity, and pursue sustainable and lasting security, development and prosperity. Third, there are more substantive measures for cooperation. Participants say that the forum is an important platform for pooling consensus and strengthening coordination. They looked back at the experience and achievements of military cooperation between China and Africa and discussed upgrading cooperation. The Chinese side also put forward several practical measures to promote long-term development of China-Africa military relationship.

Question: According to reports, the deputy commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command said recently that "the lack of engagement at the war-fighting level increased the risk that a misunderstanding could morph into conflict", and the refusal of the PLA Eastern Command and the Southern Theater Command to communicate with the US Indo-Pacific Command "fuels the risk of a military clash" between China and the US. What's your comment?

Answer: The relevant remarks of the US side are a typical example that he who first offends will first complain. As we all know, the US military is a troublemaker for regional security. For a long time, it has conducted frequent and large-scale close-in reconnaissance and military provocations in China's vicinity, which has greatly increased the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation or even conflicts between the Chinese and American troops on the ground.

To manage and control risks, one should first discipline oneself. Today, the US military is creating crises with actions while managing crises with only words. China urges the US to stop its provocative military operations against China so as to avoid extreme situations that no one wants to see.

Question: The US recently released a report accusing China, Russia and other countries of their development of biological weapons threatening the US national security. What's your comment?

Answer: The report published by the US is like nothing but a thief crying "stop thief". The US has the biggest number of biological military activities in the world, and its activities are the most questionable and also pose the greatest threat to the world. The US has over 330 bio labs around the world, and there are often unidentified infections breaking out around these labs. However, the US always finds various excuses to refuse any investigation. What the US should do is to reflect on itself, earnestly fulfill its international obligations in a responsible manner, and do something practical to enhance global bio-security, instead of spreading rumors and making unfounded accusations against China.

Bio-security is a global issue. Guided by the Global Security Initiative, China continues to strengthen its own bio-security defense line, and firmly upholds the authority of international laws on bio-security. China also extensively participates in global bio-security governance and contributes our wisdom and solutions to jointly addressing bio-security risks and challenges.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. (Photo/mod.gov.cn)

Question: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III recently said that "the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Ruling is binding on all parties" and "the Mutual Defense Treaty extends to Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces - to include those of its Coast Guard - in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea". And Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, Commander of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, recently said that "the use of water canon by" the China Coast Guard "against a Philippine vessel must be challenged and checked". He also assured the Philippines of the US backing. What's your comment?

Answer: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the adjacent waters, including the Ren'ai Jiao. Relevant moves by the Philippine side infringed upon China's sovereignty and violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The China Coast Guard's responses were legitimate, lawful, professional, and standard. The US has encouraged, supported and helped the Philippines in shipping building materials to the vessel illegally grounded at the Ren'ai Jiao. The US keeps threatening China with the Mutual Defense Treaty and pressuring China with the so-called South China Sea arbitration which is illegal and invalid. The US has groundlessly smeared the legitimate and lawful law-enforcement operations of the Chinese side. I want to emphasize that these actions violated the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. They are against the US public commitment of taking no position on the sovereignty issues in the South China Sea. These actions undermined peace and stability and heightened tensions in the region. We urge the US side to stop meddling in the South China Sea issue, stop sowing discords and fanning flames, and stop disrupting regional peace and stability. We hope regional countries can stay vigilant, follow the DOC, and work with the Chinese side to maintain peace and stability in the region. The Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Question: According to the reports, the PLAN hospital ship Peace Ark recently visited the Solomon Islands. Can you give us more information?

Answer: The PLAN hospital ship Peace Ark, which is on Mission Harmony-2023, visited the Solomon Islands from August 19 to 26 and provided medical service there. This is the first time for a Chinese naval vessel to visit the Solomon Islands since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties. During the visit, the Peace Ark treated a total of 10,310 local residents, and dispatched thirteen medical teams to provide service at seven sites. The first Peace Baby of the Solomon Islands was born aboard the ship on the afternoon of August 23. And Deputy Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Maelanga named the baby "Heping" or "peace" in English.

The Peace Ark has built strong bonds with local people through its careful medical service and genuine interactions. The local media Solomon Star covered this visit with the title of "Ark Peace 'steals hearts in Solomon Islands' inaugural visit".

Committed to passing peace and friendship and bringing benevolence and love, the Chinese military will continue to provide public security goods to the world and faithfully practice the vision of building a maritime community with a shared future with concrete actions.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. (Photo/mod.gov.cn)

Question: Recently, there is information online that a PLAN new Type 054B frigate has been launched in Shanghai. Can you confirm this and give us more details?

Answer: The PLA Navy develops main battle ships and other equipment in accordance with relevant plans. These are normal arrangements in consistent with China's national security needs and the overall development of the PLA Navy. The goal is to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and better protect peace and stability in the region and beyond. China remains committed to the path of peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature.

Question: A promotional video titled Zhu Meng (or Running for the Dream) co-produced by the CMC Political Work Department and the China Media Group was aired recently and attracted wide attention from the public. Please share more information with us. And my second question is on China's third aircraft carrier Fujian. It is reported that the sheds for the Fujian are being dismantled and there may be significant progress in the near future. Can you give us more information?  

Answer:On August 1, the 8-episode promotional video Zhu Meng made by the CMC Political Work Department started airing on CCTV-1. It was later uploaded to several major web portals and covered by more than 300 Chinese and foreign media. Views and clicks of the video have reached nearly 3 billion. Zhu Meng tells the stories of 34 military units or individuals in building a strong military from their personal perspectives. The video uses new paradigms and popular expressions to interpret a bigger idea. It shows how Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military is leading the reform of the people's military and cultivating service members for the new era. The video demonstrates latest achievements made by the military in implementing the guiding principles of the 20th Party Congress and realizing the military's centenary goal and shares with us the efforts made by young service members to combine their own dreams with the dream of building a strong country and military. Zhu Meng is a sister promotional video of Zhui Guang (or Chasing Light). Both the two videos represent innovative efforts of the military to publicize Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military online and raise public awareness of it. The popularity of the videos shows the strength of Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, the expectation of Chinese people for national rejuvenation, and the passion of service members to build a strong military with actions.

As for your second question, please be patient. We’ll release the information in due course.

Question: According to the Associated Press, the US State Department has informed Congress that the Biden administration has approved about $80 million military aid to Taiwan through the Foreign Military Financing program. The Taiwan authorities recently said that they will pay another $3 billion to buy new weapons and upgrade its F-16 fighter jets. Some media reports said that this brings the Taiwan authorities' defense budget for 2024 to $19 billion, the highest in history. What's your comment on this?  

Answer: I have answered the question on the US military aid to Taiwan. The DPP authorities' attempt to increase the so-called "defense budget" and "seek independence by force" is merely futile and overreached. The PLA maintains a state of high alert at all times and will take all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty, unification, and territorial integrity, and to resolutely crush separatist attempts for "Taiwan independence" in any form.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers recent media queries concerning the military on the afternoon of August 31, 2023. (Photo/mod.gov.cn)

Question: The commander of the US Strategic Command said recently that China is accelerating its nuclear triad development and the growth of China's nuclear capabilities concerns the US. What's your comment?

Answer: The remarks of the US side are nothing new. We are firmly opposed to the US playing up the so-called "China nuclear threat" as an excuse to expand its own nuclear force. As a matter of fact, the US is the biggest nuclear threat in the world. It has the world's largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal, and follows an aggressive nuclear deterrence policy that allows the first-use of nuclear weapons. The US invests heavily in miniaturized nuclear weapons for real-combat use. It has continuously lowered the threshold of using nuclear weapons and taken extended deterrence as an excuse for nuclear proliferation in the Asia-Pacific. The US has used every means to maintain its nuclear hegemony. Here, I want to remind the US that instead of clamoring for non-existent China threat, it should call off nuclear submarine cooperation under the AUKUS and pay more attention to the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima that have been dumped into the ocean by Japan.

China stays firmly committed to a defensive nuclear strategy and a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons. We do not seek any nuclear arms race and keep our nuclear forces at the minimum level required to safeguard national security. China has pledged clearly not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. These represent our efforts in upholding the nuclear non-proliferation regime and fulfilling our responsibility in arms control.

Question: After Lai Cheng-te's transit through the US, the PLA Eastern Theater Command held naval and air exercises around Taiwan. Many media from Taiwan believe that the recent exercises are quite different from the previous pre-announced ones. Do you have any comment on that?

Answer: The PLA Eastern Theatre Command recently held joint naval and air exercises around Taiwan Island. It is a warning and deterrence against the collusion between the "Taiwan Independence" separatist forces and external forces. It is a necessary measure to safeguard China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Don't the separatist forces know what evil things they have done? I don't think there is any need for the PLA to pre-announce our countermeasures.

Question: Recently, the US, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines held joint exercises in the South China Sea. There were reports that the exercise was targeted at China. Do you have any comment?

Answer: We have noticed relevant reports. The South China Sea is a shared home for regional countries. China advocates that bilateral and multilateral defense and security cooperation between regional countries should contribute to peace and stability in the region, and should not target at other countries. The Chinese military will take solid measures to safeguard our national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Question: Taiwan recently released a report saying that the Chinese mainland may push to resolve the Taiwan question in the next few years. What's your comment?

Answer: The future of Taiwan lies in national reunification, which can only and must be decided by all Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots. China will and must be reunified. Here I want to stress once again that no one should ever underestimate the strong determination, resolve and capabilities of the PLA to safeguard China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

That concludes today’s press conference. Thanks.

Source:Ministry of National Defense
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