Regular Press Conference of China's Ministry of National Defense on October 26

Ministry of National Defense
Lin Congyi
2023-11-13 21:19:01

Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), releases news at a regular press conference on the afternoon of October 26, 2023.

(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: Dear friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to this month's regular press conference. First, I would like to extend a warm welcome to a special group of friends, representatives of teachers and students from Tsinghua University. Welcome! Today, I have two pieces of news to pass at the top.

The first is about China-Pakistan maritime joint exercise. According to the annual plan for international military cooperation, Chinese and Pakistani navies will hold the "Sea Guardians-3" joint maritime exercise in the waters and airspace of the northern Arabian Sea in November. Themed with "joint response to maritime security threats", the exercise will include formation movement, VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure), helicopter cross-deck landing, joint search and rescue, joint anti-submarine operation and main gun shooting. Professional exchanges and mutual visits will also be included. This is the third time for China and Pakistan to hold an exercise of this kind, aiming to further consolidate the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and traditional friendship between the two countries, and strengthen realistic combat training of the two militaries.

The second is about the International Army Cadets Week. The Chinese PLA Army Engineering University will hold the 10th International Army Cadets Week (IACW) in Nanjing City from November 5 to 13. Cadets from military academies of China, Singapore, Egypt, Italy, Pakistan, etc. will participate in the event.

Under the theme of "Capability-building of Junior-level Army Officers", this year's IACW will focus on two topics, namely junior officers' commanding ability for future warfare and cross-cultural competence in multi-national military operations. The IACW is a good platform for Chinese and foreign cadets to conduct exchanges and share experiences, and will help improve the quality of military education and talent cultivation.

Question: Last month, the spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense announced at the regular press conference that the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum will take place in Beijing at the end of October. Please brief us on details about the preparation for the Forum.

Answer: As of October 25, official delegations from more than 90 countries, regions and international organizations, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Fiji, have confirmed to attend the Forum. There are over 30 ministerial representatives and military chiefs, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations including the Secretary-General of ASEAN, the Vice President of the ICRC, the Secretary-General of the CICA, the advisor to the SCO secretariat, and the Arab League's charge d'affaires to China. The numbers of participants and senior officials are both higher than those of previous years. In particular, there is a big increase in representation from developing countries and international and regional organizations.

This year's Forum will focus on the Global Security Initiative (GSI). There will be 4 plenary sessions and 8 simultaneous special sessions. In addition, we will host a high-end dialogue, an expert dialogue, a young officer and scholar seminar and a seminar on the Art of War, and will arrange cultural tours. We hope to see broader and more in-depth discussions at the Forum and a greater intelligent contribution to world peace and stability. Preparations for the Forum are almost done and the carpets have been rolled out for all the guests.

Now please watch a video clip.

Question: According to reports, it has been confirmed that the United States has accepted China's invitation to send representatives to attend the Beijing Xiangshan Forum. Some analysts believe that this indicates a potential thawing of relations between the two militaries. Please comment on it. Additionally, could you disclose the specific individuals from the United States who will attend the Forum?

Answer: The hosts of the 10th Beijing Xiangshan Forum have extended invitations to multiple defense departments and militaries. According to the US side, Cynthia Xanthi Carras, country director for China in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, will participate in the Forum as a representative. Chinese officials will have exchanges with her during the Forum.

China values the development of military relations between China and the United States and hopes that the US side will work with the Chinese side to create a favorable atmosphere for the healthy and stable development of their military-to-military relationship.

Question: I have three questions. First, you mentioned that the Russian side has confirmed its attendance at the Beijing Xiangshan Forum. Will Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attend the Forum this year? The second question is about the US side's participation in the Forum. Previously, the United States Department of Defense has consistently blamed China for the lack of mil-to-mil communication. However, the US will send a mid-level official this time and some experts believe that this signals that the US lacks sufficient sincerity for mil-to-mil communication, since this is a working-level exchange between the two militaries. Do you agree with this view? The third question pertains to the recent incident caused by the Philippines near the Ren'ai Jiao. On October 25, the President of the United States stated that the US's support for the Philippines is "ironclad". Some US media suggested that if tensions between China and the Philippines continue to escalate, the United States may be dragged into conflicts. Please comment on it.

Answer: As for your first question, we will release information regarding the specific names of Russian participants in the Forum in due course.

The second question is about China-US military relations. We believe that the level of participants in the Forum is not the most crucial part, and the focus of communication between the two sides should be on the content. Currently, the United States bears full responsibility for the difficulties and obstacles in China-US mil-to-mil relations. China has always attached great importance to the development of mil-to-mil relations between the two countries, and meanwhile, we have firmly adhered to the principle that China's sovereignty, dignity, and core interests are inviolable. We hope that the United States will work with China in accordance with the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, correct its mistakes, and take practical measures to bring the bilateral military relations back to the right track.

As for your third question, I believe that it is not a matter of the US side being dragged into trouble, but rather a matter of it stirring up troubles. We urge the United States to cease interfering in the affairs of the South China Sea, to cease provoking incidents, and to cease undermining peace and stability in the region.

Question: According to reports, the Central Military Commission recently issued the Interim Provisions on the Guarantee of Benefits for Civilian Personnel in the Military. Please further introduce the specific details and key innovations.

Answer: Recently, the Central Military Commission has issued the Interim Provisions on the Guarantee of Benefits for Civilian Personnel in the Military, which took effect on October 15, 2023. The introduction of the Provisions will further enhance the treatment and benefits for civilian personnel in the Chinese military. It will play a significant role in attracting social talents to contribute to the cause of building a strong military, stimulating the vitality and motivation of civilian personnel, and promoting the high-quality development of the civilian workforce.

The Provisions consists of 10 chapters and 55 articles, mainly covering seven aspects. Its main contents are as follows: First, on political and working treatment, civilian personnel are entitled to political treatment, such as participating in political activities and receiving honorary commendations. They are also entitled to corresponding work benefits, including offices, vehicles for official business, telecommunications subsidies, and other benefits based on their position grades.

Second, on salaries and pay, the Provisions stipulates a pay progression mechanism and an improved performance pay system. Specifically, it clarifies that market-based salary systems such as the annual salary system can be applied to eligible high-end talents, and technology-intensive units can pay performance salaries. In accordance with relevant regulations, salaries of civilian personnel can be linked with their actual contribution, such as profits brought by the commercialization of scientific and technological achievements.

Third, on housing benefits, civilian personnel enjoy market-based and monetary support in accommodation. The prescribed benefits include housing fund and monthly housing allowances. Those eligible can choose to stay in living quarters or rent family apartments in their military units. They also enjoy priority in renting or purchasing local indemnificatory housing such as shared ownership housing.

Fourth, on medical care, in addition to the national basic medical insurance program for urban employees, civilian personnel in administrative and specialized and technical positions have the right to a medical subsidy system at a similar level as that for civil servants, and those in positions of special skills have medical subsidies in accordance with relevant regulations in the military.

Fifth, on insurance, civilian personnel are covered by social insurance programs for employees of state organs and public institutions and receive corresponding benefits. Key talents may be insured with commercial insurance.

Sixth, on welfare, civilian personnel have the right to annual leave, home leave and other leaves or vacations. They are also entitled to general treatment for all service members including solicitude, relief, child education, and allowances for those whose spouses live away from their working locations. When civilian personnel apply for household registration or work residence permit, or when they transfer the household registration of their spouses or children to their working locations, they shall be treated in the same way as staff of state organs and public institutions in the same locality.

Seventh, on consolation compensation and preferential treatment, family members of civilian personnel killed in action or dying of illness shall receive corresponding consolation compensation. Civilian personnel enjoy prescribed preferential treatment in aspects including travel and transportation.

Civilian personnel are an important part of the Chinese military. The team of "Peacock Blue" is essential for winning victories. As we speak, the recruitment of civilian personnel in 2024 is open for registration. We welcome more young people to join the team, dedicate yourselves to national defense, and write a glorious chapter of your life.

Question: It is reported that some Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) including Shanghai Chengtou Corporation and Wuhan Agricultural Group have established the People's Armed Forces Departments (PAFD) recently. What's the reason behind?

Answer: China's national defense is the responsibility of all Chinese people. The militia system is a traditional basic military institution in China. According to the Constitution and the National Defense Law, Chinese citizens, enterprises, institutions and social organizations should all participate in militia and carry out relative work according to the law. The PAFD in SOE constitutes a part of China's national defense system, serving as a functional department of the Party and the government responsible for military affairs and military service work in SOEs. Establishing PAFD in SOE is out of the requirement to implement the militia system in accordance with the law, fulfill the national defense obligations, and enhance defense development. In recent years, the PAFDs in SOEs have played an important role in enhancing national defense mobilization and reserve force development, facilitating national defense education, improving defense awareness of the general public, supporting local governments in disaster relief and epidemic control, and promoting China's economic and social development with positive contributions.

Question: According to reports, in the most-recent China Military Power Report, the US Department of Defense listed six scenarios that the Chinese mainland may take military actions against Taiwan, for example, Taiwan announces formal independence. Do you have any comment?

Answer: The Taiwan question is China's internal affair and brooks no foreign interference. We will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts. However, we make no promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary means. This is targeted at interference of foreign forces and a few "Taiwan independence" separatists and their secessionist activities. This is by no means targeted at compatriots in Taiwan. Should "Taiwan independence" separatists or foreign interference forces provoke us, or even cross the red line, we will be compelled to take resolute measures.

Currently, some forces in the US are using Taiwan to contain China and playing the "Taiwan card" to encourage the "Taiwan independence" separatists to take adventurous and provocative actions. It not only damages China's sovereignty and security interests, endangers peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but also disturbs sound and stable development of China-US relations. We urge the US side to abide by the One-China principle, stop saying one thing and doing the opposite, and honor with concrete actions its commitment of not supporting "Taiwan independence".

Question: US media reported that China had, in a rare case, deployed six naval vessels to the Middle East as the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated. What's your comment on this?

Answer: In fact, the vessels belong to two PLA naval task groups on routine escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters of Somalia. It has nothing to do with the regional situation. We urge relevant parties to respect the facts and stop groundless hyping.

Question: The recently published 2023 China Military Power Report by the US Department of Defense states that China often declines the US's requests for regular communications and phone calls. The US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs said that in times of crises, the US and China don't have the habits and open channels for communication, and China demonstrates a concerning lack of interest in maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication . What's your comment? Furthermore, the report assesses that China's current nuclear warhead count has exceeded 500 and could increase to over 1000 by 2030. Do you have any comment?

Answer: I will first answer the question concerning military exchanges between the two countries. In fact, communication between the Chinese and US militaries are not suspended, and communication channels remain open. What the US said is not the truth; it is an attempt to shift the blame.  I want to emphasize that we need good faith for communication and we have our bottom lines for dialogues. On one hand, the US keeps saying it hopes to communicate with China, but on the other hand, it tries to coerce China into accepting its malicious provocations. What kind of logic is this?

China values its military relationship with the US and handles it with principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. We urge the US side to work together with China and implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state. The US needs to respect China's core interests and major concerns, stop making negative comments on China, and stop infringing upon China's rights or making provocations. It needs to take concrete actions to create favorable conditions for the mil-to-mil relationship to return to the right track.

On your question about China's nuclear weapons, China has always maintained its nuclear force at the minimum level needed for national security and is committed to safeguarding global strategic security. On the contrary, the US side in recent years has successively withdrawn from the treaties on arms control including the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, upgraded its nuclear triad and sought to deploy land-based intermediate-range missiles in Europe and Asia-Pacific, so as to reinforce the so-called "extended deterrence". The US has also promoted the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation, which poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation and damages regional peace and stability. My last point is that the US should count how many nuclear warheads it has. I suggest the US to look into the mirror more often.

Question: I have three questions. First, a report from the budget center of Taiwan's legislative body indicates that Taiwan's military plans to procure a total of 3,221 units of 5 types of commercial drones for military use next year, requiring a budget of over 5.687 billion New Taiwan dollars. Additionally, they plan to purchase 26 sets of anti-drone systems. What is your comment on this? Second, the head of Taiwan's foreign affairs authorities recently mentioned about the possibility of security cooperation between the Philippines and Taiwan. The Philippine Secretary of National Defense responded that the possibility of security cooperation with Taiwan is zero. The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines also said there is no contact with Taiwan and there will be no cooperation in the future. What is your response to this? Third, there are some special guests at today's press conference, as you mentioned, students and teachers from Tsinghua University. This is a relatively uncommon arrangement. Could you explain the reason behind this?

Answer: Regarding the first question, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities in Taiwan disregard the safety and well-being of the Taiwan compatriots. They recklessly squander the hard-earned money of taxpayers, spending exorbitant amounts to purchase weapons to bolster their "separatist" agenda. This behavior is pushing Taiwan toward a dangerous situation of war. We want to warn the DPP authorities that the path of "resisting reunification by force" leads to a dead end, and their attempts to "rely on US support for independence" are bound to fail. The Chinese People's Liberation Army will continue to strengthen combat readiness, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity and steadfastly maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Regarding the second question, I noticed that you mentioned that the statement from the leadership of the Philippine Defense Department has made clear the possibility is zero. I believe this already clarifies the situation. The Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair. We firmly oppose any country engaging in official exchanges and military contacts with the Taiwan region of China in any form. This position is consistent and clear. China is unwavering in its determination to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Regarding the third question, we often say that national defense is like sunshine and air, which is hardly noticed when we are benefiting from it, but none of us can survive without it. National defense is not just a matter for the military; it is a matter for all Chinese. The future of national defense relies on the youth. Students from prestigious universities like Tsinghua University have a proud tradition of serving the country. Dear students, you are invited to attend the press conference of the Ministry of National Defense with the hope that you can feel, understand, care for, and love our national defense. Today, you are our guests; tomorrow, I expect you to be our comrades in arms.

Question: Earlier, you mentioned that during the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, CMC leaders will meet with foreign defense and military leaders. Can you confirm which leader will attend the event? Secondly, what's the level and size of the US delegation to the Beijing Xiangshan Forum?

Answer: Regarding the specific meetings between the Chinese and foreign delegations during the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, we will release information through the official media. You can also follow the official website of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum.

As for your second question, I mentioned earlier that Ms. Carras is leading the US delegation. For specific details about other members and the size of the delegation, I suggest you inquire with the US side.

Question: According to reports, the US government is planning to request substantial military assistance for Taiwan from the Congress. Additionally, the DPP authorities have recently used contingency funds to support joint military training with the US. What is your comment on this?

Answer: For some time, the situation across the Taiwan Strait has been complex and challenging. The root cause lies in the DPP authorities' attempt to seek independence by leaning on foreign support and the US's playing the "Taiwan card", trying to use Taiwan to contain China. Whether it's military aid or contingency funds, they are squandering the hard-earned money of the people, which will only push Taiwan into a dangerous situation. The PLA is rock-solid in its resolve and growing ever stronger in its capacities to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Question: I have two questions. The first is that the registration for recruitment of civilian personnel in the military is undergoing. Recently, some tutoring institutions are promoting themselves by claiming to have military background or internal sources. Do you have any comment on that? The second is that during the media briefing on the Beijing Xiangshan Forum several days ago, the organizer said that there will be more representatives from developing countries than previous years. And "Nuclear Risks and Global Security" has also been added to the list of subjects. So what message are these arrangements trying to send?

Answer: On your first question, to recruit more talents from the society to serve military development, the Political Work Department of the CMC recently announced next year's public recruitment of administrative civilian personnel under level 7 and specialized and technical civilian personnel at or below intermediate level. We will strictly enforce disciplinary regulations and strengthen supervision during the whole process to ensure fairness.

As the online application is ongoing, I want to clarify that the competent department will neither designate any textbooks, nor host or entrust any institutions for tutoring classes of the unified recruitment examination for civilian positions in the military. Applicants can prepare for the examination based on the syllabus of general and specialized subjects from the official website of "Military Talent Net" or The website and "China Bugle" app are the only two official channels authorized for information release, online application and score inquiry. Regarding those cases online that damage the image and reputation of the Chinese military, we reserve the right to pursue legal liabilities. We will work with relevant national authorities to deal with such cases to ensure a fair and orderly examination. We also kindly remind all applicants to stay alert and be careful not to be misled or fall for any scam.

On your second question, we always believe that a single flower does not make spring, while one hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to a Garden. Therefore, we believe that the international public opinion should not be manipulated by certain or a few big countries. That's why we host the Beijing Xiangshan Forum to provide a platform for developing countries to make their voices heard by others. We also want to provide an opportunity for different parties to discuss security issues, try to find solutions and promote security cooperation. Topics like "Nuclear Risk and Global Security" as you just mentioned are included in the subjects of this year's Beijing Xiangshan Forum.

Question: It's learnt that a Chinese Air Force delegation recently attended the second "Africa Air Force Forum" in Senegal. Can you provide more details on this?

Answer: From October 25 to 26, the second Africa Air Force Forum was held in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, under the theme of "Adapting Air Force Capabilities and Drone Deployment to Modern Conflicts". The Chinese PLA Air Force (PLAAF) sent a delegation to the forum during which they had discussions with other delegates on the future development of air forces on the African continent, their impact on security operations and role in counter-terrorism operations, and related technical and capability needs.

It's the second time a PLAAF delegation has participated in this forum, which will further deepen practical cooperation between Chinese and African militaries and contribute to the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future.

Question: We have noticed that the Chinese defense spokesperson has responded to the US claims of "dangerous interception" by the Chinese fighter jets. Previously, the US had released some pictures and videos, but we haven't seen any picture or video as evidence from the Chinese side. Does China have any relevant information?

Answer: Yes, we have. Please watch the video.

This video proves that it is the US side that is making provocations, taking risks and muddling the water. We have much similar video evidence, but I won't show them all today due to limited time. What I'm emphasizing here is to pay close attention to where things are happening. We all know that all the close encounters between Chinese and US aircraft and warships were in the waters and airspace around China, not in the Gulf of Mexico or off the West Coast of America. It was the US side that came to China's doorstep to provoke and stir up troubles. How can the Chinese military intercept the US aircraft and warships if they don't come? That is an impossible task for the US to endanger China's national security while at the same time making unfettered provocations. The Chinese military is always on high alert and will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend China's national sovereignty, security, and maritime rights and interests.

Question: Not long ago, a friction happened between the vessels of China and the Philippines in waters near Ren'ai Jiao. The Philippines' Defense Secretary said that "Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels" were "in blatant violation of international law." The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed that "supplies to troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre" grounded on Ren'ai Jiao "would continue to be transported by boat" despite being repeatedly expelled by China. The US National Security Advisor reiterated US support for the Philippines, and emphasized that the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty also applied to the Philippine Coast Guard. What's your take on that?

Answer: The China Coast Guard (CCG) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have released multiple statements concerning what really happened and published videos as evidence. The cause and facts of the incident are clear and the evidence is irrefutable.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including Ren'ai Jiao and the adjacent waters. China's sovereignty is shaped and confirmed through a historical process, and complies with international laws including the UN Charter. On the specific case, Philippine ships ignored repeated dissuasion and warnings of the Chinese side, and intentionally violated China's sovereignty and made provocations by crossing the bow of a CCG ship in a dangerous manner. A Philippine coast guard vessel then deliberately reversed and bumped into a Chinese fishing boat which floating with its engine stopped, endangering the personnel of both sides. The responsibility lies fully with the Philippine side. In response to the provocations, the CCG responded in accordance with laws to safeguard China's territorial sovereignty. The CCG's operations are reasonable, legitimate, and professional. Unfortunately, some outside powers ignored the facts and stirred up discords by misleading international public opinion. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to that.

We ask the Philippine side to stop violating China's sovereignty and stop any deliberate and provocative actions, so as to prevent further escalation of the situation. We urge the US to stop interfering in the South China Sea issue, stop fanning the flame and stirring up troubles to undermine regional peace and stability. The Chinese military will firmly safeguard China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and continue to operate in waters under China's jurisdiction.

Question: According to reports, China-Saudi Arabia "Blue Sword-2023" naval special operations joint training recently concluded. Please brief us more on this joint training. What are the new features of this one?

Answer: Chinese and Saudi Arabian navies held the "Blue Sword-2023" joint training on special operations in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province from October 9 to 25. This is the first joint training conducted by the two navies in China. It was divided into three phases, namely basic training, specialized training and comprehensive exercise. The basic and specialized training included 24 subjects such as building climbing, helicopter fast-roping and diving. The comprehensive exercise was for naval special operations troops to jointly rescue a hijacked merchant ship. They had skill training on maritime assault and rescue, and conducted a joint rescue drill. Saudi Arabia also sent a delegation to observe the comprehensive exercise. The two sides agreed that the joint training was very successful and it provided a good opportunity for the two navies to exchange with and learn from each other. It laid a solid foundation for the two militaries to further deepen cooperation and friendship and improve interoperability at sea.

Question: According to reports, the US recently renewed the Compact of Free Association Agreement (COFA) with the Pacific island countries of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Some comments suggested that this move by the US aimed to gain control over a large area in the Western Pacific and restrict the entry of the Chinese military into the Western Pacific. What is your comment on that?

Answer: We have noticed the relevant reports. The Pacific region should be a grand stage for communication and cooperation among all parties, rather than an arena for zero-sum games. China firmly opposes the US's approach of creating confrontational blocs and exclusive military arrangements. We will steadfastly safeguard our sovereignty, security, and development interests and contribute to maintaining world peace and stability and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Question: The Chinese Navy's hospital on Yongshu Jiao in Nansha Islands recently rescued a wounded Vietnamese fisherman. Can you give us more details?

Answer: Recently, PLANS Qujing, which was on a mission in waters near Yongshu Jiao, received a distress call sent by a Vietnamese fishing boat. A Vietnamese fisherman onboard had a complete displaced fracture of his right upper limb, which was life-threatening. Medics on PLANS Qujing gave the fisherman first aid and transferred him to the hospital on Yongshu Jiao. The hospital arranged a medical team to treat him and did a surgical operation. The fisherman has been escorted back to his boat after his condition was stabilized.

Question: The US conducted a high-explosive subsurface chemical explosion at a nuclear test site recently. It used chemical high-explosives and radiotracers to validate new predictive explosion models. Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma recently passed bill to withdraw ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). In recent years, public concerns on the resumption of nuclear testing have been growing. What is your comment on this?

Answer: We have noted relevant reports, and China will continue to monitor the actions of the US and hopes that the US will honor its commitment to the moratorium on nuclear testing with concrete actions.

Senior Colonel Wu Qian: If there are no further questions, we will conclude today's press conference. Thank you all!

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