Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of National Defense on Mar. 26

Ministry of National Defense
Chen Lufan
2020-03-27 18:21:21
Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, 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 26, 2020. (Photo:
(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 Ren Guoqiang: Chinese President Xi Jinping has personally directed national response since the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak. He chaired multiple meetings on the issue, inspected communities and visited Wuhan to support the front-line workers there. His leadership, care and support have strongly enhanced the confidence and strength of the whole Party, the whole military and the whole nation of all ethnic groups in defeating the virus. The epidemic prevention and control has come to a critical period. The PLA, under the unified command of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC), will continue to overcome all difficulties to battle the virus in high spirit and do its best to save every patient.

First, increasing admission rate and recovery rate. As of March 26, the 63 military hospitals designated to treat COVID-19 patients have provided nearly 3,000 beds with more than 10,000 medical personnel working on the front line. The Wuhan-based Huoshenshan Hospital, Taikang Tongji Hospital and Optics Valley Branch of Maternity and Child Hospital of Hubei Province have received and treated 6,871 COVID-19 patients, with 5,519 cured. Designated hospitals of the PLA and military medical teams to Hubei have received and treated 7,415 COVID-19 patients, with 5,962 cured. Second, working for scientific research breakthroughs. The PLA medical expert team has wasted no time in developing medicines and antibody, carrying out vaccine R&D and tracing virus origin. Chen Wei, an academician from the Academy of Military Medical Science of the Academy of Military Sciences, and her team developed a vaccine for coronavirus on March 16 and have began clinical trials. Third, remaining alert till a final victory is achieved. At the moment, the more than 4,000 military medical personnel assisting Wuhan’s are still in position to help the city fight the virus, save lives and press ahead with scientific research. They have put on a marvelous performance in preventing and controlling the epidemic, and will not relax until a final and total victory is achieved.

Question: The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading all over the world. Has the PLA provided medical supplies to foreign defense departments and militaries?

Answer: The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly spread to multiple countries. While making all-out efforts to combat it at home, China is actively engaging in international cooperation and providing as much help as possible to other countries and international organizations. This is how we fulfill our international responsibilities and consolidate earlier medical progress.

As of March 26, the Chinese military, upon request, lost no time in providing nucleic acid test kits, protective suits and disposable medical masks to the Iranian Armed Forces on March 19, and assigned a medical expert team to assist Cambodia in epidemic prevention and control on March 24, taking with them relevant materials and equipment. The PLA will provide assistance within its capacity to the militaries of relevant countries according to the development of the pandemic.

‘Separated by mountains though, we share cloud and rain.’ In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mankind is in a community with a shared future, and we can only hope for the dawn of victory through mutual support and coordination. We will never forget the foreign militaries and international organizations who helped China out at our most difficult times. The Chinese military, upholding the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, will strengthen cooperation with foreign militaries against the COVID-19, and take concrete actions to fend off its aftermaths so as to safeguard international health security, and jointly build a community with common health for mankind.

Question: China has made important phased achievements in domestic epidemic prevention and control. Please brief us on the assistance provided by overseas defense authorities and militaries to China.

Answer: Since the COVID-19 outbreak, China, with the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, has actively engaged in international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control and received extensive understanding, support and help from the international community.

As of March 26, the defense and military leaders of a number of countries, namely Pakistan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, East Timor, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, Tanzania, Iran, New Zealand, Serbia, Mongolia, Fiji and Kyrgyzstan,have sent letters of sympathy to the Chinese military. Military leaders or senior officials of Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Jordan sent their sympathies and expressed their firm support for China through Chinese embassies. The defense ministries and militaries of Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Mongolia donated funds and materials to China. Belarus, Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and the Czech Republic dispatched military aircraft to deliver large numbers of medical protective suits, masks and goggles to China. Beijing Military Attaché Corps(BMAC), military attachés of certain foreign embassies and some foreign military students in China have also expressed their support and best wishes by recording videos or writing letters. We attach great importance to the epidemic prevention and control for foreign military personnel in China and have sent our regards in various ways. As of March 25, no foreign military attaché or student in China has been infected.

Question: At the beginning of this month, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, General Wei Fenghe, spoke with the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the phone. What’s your comment on the current military-to-military relationship between China and the US?

Answer: The mil-to-mil relationship is an important part of the China-US bilateral ties, and its sound and stable growth is in the common interests of both sides and meets the common expectation of the international community. The two militaries have conducted some engagements since the end of last year. On March 3, China’s State Councilor and Minister of National Defense, General Wei Fenghe had a phone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. They exchanged views on the prevention and control of COVID-19, relations between the two countries and the two militaries and their respective concerns. At the beginning of this year, the two defense authorities also held the Defense Policy Coordination Talk(DPCT). It should be noted that some recent erroneous remarks and actions by the US side regarding China and the Chinese military have undermined Chinese sovereignty and security interests, poisoned the development of military relationship and disrupted regional peace and stability. China is firmly opposed to them. We hope the US side will work with the Chinese side towards the same goal, and implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state. The two sides should strengthen strategic dialogue based on mutual respect, properly handle differences, promote practical cooperation and steer the mil-to-mil relationship forward on the right track.

Question: In early March, the MND responded to the US regarding the so-called “laser-firing incident” between a Chinese naval destroyer and a US naval reconnaissance aircraft. Later, the US Department of Defense responded by demanding the Chinese side to carry out maritime activities in a safe and professional manner again. What’s your comment on that?

Answer: We have already stated our position on this case. The facts are clear. On February 27, while the PLA navy was having a routine exercise on the high seas, a US P-8A reconnaissance aircraft kept having close-in reconnaissance over the Chinese vessels for more than four hours despite repeated warnings from the Chinese side. The closest proximity was only 400 meters. The dangerous actions taken by the US aircraft are extremely inappropriate, unprofessional and unsafe.

For years, the US has conducted reconnaissance activities in the aerial and maritime space adjacent to China, carrying out close-in, long-term surveillance and interference against PLA ships and aircraft, which has many times led to dangerous encounters and grave situations. The provocative actions by the US has undermined China's security interests and endangered the safety of ships, aircraft and service members from both sides. These actions violated and undermined freedom of navigation in the international law and are the root cause of maritime security problems between China and the US. Nonetheless, the US side simply ignores its own wrong doings, and even launched complaints and baseless accusations against China. The Chinese side resolutely opposes these actions and urges the US to stop such dangerous provocations, stop smearing China and avoid damaging the relations between the two countries and the two militaries.

Question: According to statistics from the WHO, as of March 25, more than 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, involving more than 190 countries and regions. Please brief us on the prevention and control measures adopted by Chinese military personnel overseas.

Answer: President Xi Jinping and CMC leaders pay close attention to disease control for Chinese troops carrying out tasks overseas.

First, we have established a pandemic emergency response mechanism. We have maintained communication and coordination with Chinese embassies, the UN and other international organizations and established a reporting and emergency response mechanism for overseas Chinese military personnel carrying out UN peacekeeping or vessel-protection missions to closely monitor local situations and the health of the Chinese personnel.

Second, we have intensified personnel management and control. Overseas Chinese troops have strengthened their awareness and capability of self-protection and organized pandemic containment exercises. For troops in regions already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, barracks entry and exit have been strictly controlled and body temperature is taken at the gate before entry and exit. Visitors have been received at designated locations and gatherings of all kinds have been prohibited.

Third, we have actively carried out materials replenishment and medical treatment. Based on the needs of pandemic containment and the execution of tasks, relevant materials, equipment and medicine including masks, protective suits and sanitizers have been stored and replenished. During the pandemic, the procedures of receiving and treating patients have been standardized in full consideration for the protection of medical staff. We have provided more telemedicine support and will coordinate with host countries and international organizations through diplomatic channels to provide necessary medical treatment for our service members when needed.

Fourth, we have made rigorous regulations on the departure and return of overseas military personnel. Before leaving China for overseas missions, the troops concerned need to strictly follow the requirement for a 15-day collective quarantine for medical observation. They have received professional training on pandemic prevention and control, and are equipped with personal protective gears and necessary anti-pandemic equipment. The materials to be shipped by sea or air have all been sterilized. When coming back to China, all troops will also follow the quarantine requirements.

Chinese troops on overseas missions have strictly implemented the prevention and control requirements and enhanced self-protection. No service member has been infected with COVID-19 as of March 25.

Question: According to media reports, on March 10, the guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) sailed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without permission. On March 15, the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) conducted a joint exercise in the South China Sea. On March 18, an EP-3E ARIES II reconnaissance aircraft and two B-52H strategic bombers of the US Navy flew into China's territories in the South China Sea for mission execution. What's China's comment on the frequent activities by US warships and aircraft in the South China Sea?

Answer: On March 10, the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands. The PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and air elements to track, monitor and identify the US vessel and warned it off. The Chinese side has made solemn representations with the US side on this. The Xisha Islands is an integral part of China’s territory and are under no dispute of sovereignty. The US naval ships' trespassing into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without permission has seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security. The Chinese troops will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security. 

At present, the situation in the South China Sea has kept improving with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries. However, the US has repeatedly dispatched warships and aircraft to conduct targeted and provocative joint exercises and strategic patrols in the South China Sea under the guise of "freedom of navigation". The US actions have threatened the security of the littoral countries in the region and undermined peace and stability in the South China Sea. China firmly opposes that.

Question: Reuters reported that investigation and analysis of Qihoo 360 recently revealed that "APT-C-39", a hacking group associated with the CIA, had carried out 11 years of cyberattacks and infiltrations on China, with affected units including aerospace, scientific research institutions, large-scale Internet companies and government organs. What's your comment?

Answer: It has long been an open secret that relevant departments in the United States, in violation of the international law and basic norms governing international relations, have been engaging in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber stealing, spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises, and individuals. These repeated bad behaviors are known to the world. From "WikiLeaks" and "Edward Snowden" to "Swiss Crypto AG Security Incident" and the related report of Qihoo-360, these facts have proved, time and again, that the US is the world's biggest threat to cyber security. We once again strongly urge the US to immediately stop cyber theft and attack on China and to restore a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace for China and the world.

Question: On March 16, the recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine developed by Academician Chen Wei’s team at the Academy of Military Medical Science of the Academy of Military Sciences, passed the clinical research registration review and was approved for clinical trials. What are the contributions made by the military medical staff in developing the vaccine?

Answer: The CPC Central Committee, the CMC, and President Xi Jinping have attached great importance to the emergency scientific research on disease prevention and control, and asked for more speedy development of therapeutic drugs and vaccines and conducting epidemic prevention and control in a more scientific and effective manner. Bearing in mind its purpose of serving the people, the Chinese military dispatched a military medical force led by Major General Chen Wei, an academician at the Academy of Military Medical Science of the Academy of Military Sciences to Wuhan, Hubei Province, on January 26. On January 30, a tent-type mobile testing laboratory of the Academy of Military Sciences started its operation, getting involved in nucleic acid detection and emergency scientific research on related vaccine development. On March 16, the recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine developed by Chen Wei’s team passed the clinical research registration review and was approved for clinical trials. It marks a major breakthrough in China's efforts to fight against the COVID-19.

It should be pointed out that scientific research forces of the military have always taken the protection of people's lives and health as their fundamental mission, and taken the attitude of fighting a war with its engagement in sample detection, risk assessment, disease analysis, and guidance in disease control. They have effectively carried out multiple emergency scientific researches in developing therapeutic drugs, vaccines, antibodies, and detection reagents, thus making a great contribution to the development of the novel coronavirus vaccine. In the next step, the military medical research forces will further strengthen the scientific research on the vaccine development in strict accordance with international norms and relevant domestic laws and regulation to ensure that the vaccine is safe, effective, and controllable in quality. Undoubtedly, they are playing an active role in fighting against the COVID-19.

Question: According to Taiwan media reports, on the evening of March 16, a PLA KJ-500 early warning aircraft and J-11fighter jets approached the "middle line of the Taiwan Strait" for night flight training in the southwestern sea of Taiwan, and Taiwan fighter planes took off to respond. Some media said that the PLA's move was very rare, showing that its capabilities to counter “Taiwan independence” were not affected by the COVID-19. A spokesperson for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said that the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell crossed the Taiwan Strait on March 25 and added that the US Navy will continue to sail anywhere permitted by international law. What's your comment?

Answer: Taiwan is an integral part of China. The combat-readiness patrol and joint exercises conducted by the PLA are aimed at safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and protecting the common interests of compatriots on both sides of the Strait. These operations are targeted specifically at “Taiwan independence” forces and their secessionist activities.

It should be pointed out that, recently, the US has continued to take negative actions on Taiwan, including allowing Tainan City Mayor Lai Ching-te a visit to the US, the passing of the so-called “Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act” by the US Congress, and repeated dispatching of warships across the Taiwan Strait. Relevant US practices have seriously interfered in China's internal affairs, seriously undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, severely poisoned China-US military relations, and sent wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces. These actions are extremely dangerous. China has expressed its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.

The PLA has the firm will, full confidence, and sufficient capabilities to thwart all secessionist activities and safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Question: At the critical stage in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, how did the Chinese and Pakistani militaries carry out cooperation in epidemic prevention and control? What is China’s view on the current relationship between the two militaries?

Answer: China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners with a tradition of mutual assistance. Facts have proved once again that China and Pakistan are iron brothers that share weal and woe. After the COVID-19 broke out, leaders of the two militaries immediately expressed their firm determination to help each other and pull through together. Pakistan pooled efforts across the nation to assist China and sent military aircraft to transport such supplies as masks to China. In return, China also spared no effort in supporting Pakistan to address the pandemic, showing the strength of friendship between the two nations. China-Pakistan military relationship is an important pillar of the bilateral relations. China is willing to work with Pakistan to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of both countries to strengthen practical cooperation in various fields including disease prevention and control and jointly address risks and challenges of all types so as to promote steady progress in the bilateral military relationship and make greater contribution to the development of China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership.

Question: According to media reports, recently, the Chinese military has provided Iranian armed forces with medical supplies to help the country fight COVID-19. Why did China take Iran as the first country to provide supplies?

Answer: China and Iran are comprehensive strategic partners. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, Iran has provided China with strong support and assistance, including the supply of surgical masks. Recently, the situation in Iranian is getting worse. At the request of Iran, China sent a team of volunteer experts to Iran and donated a batch of nucleic acid detection kits and medical equipment. On March 19, medical supplies donated by the Chinese military to the Iranian armed forces arrived in Iran, including nucleic acid testing kits, protective clothing, and disposable surgical masks. This fully reflects the long-standing friendship between the two countries and two militaries. 

China will uphold the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind, and continue to carry forward the spirit of helping each other and pulling through together and continue with its own efforts to contain the pandemic. China will provide relevant countries with support and assistance within its capacity, carry out in-depth cooperation in disease prevention and control, and share experience in epidemic fighting and treatment to jointly maintain regional and global public health security and build a community of common health for mankind.

Question:It is reported that the “Dragon Golden 2020” China-Cambodia joint military training has started in Cambodia, involving more than 800 troops of both militaries. Please brief us on it.

Answer: The “Dragon Golden 2020” China-Cambodia joint military training has been scheduled to run from March 2 to April 10 in Cambodia. China has dispatched 265 military personnel, together with equipment including helicopters, artillery, armored vehicles, and light weapons for the joint training. This year's training, divided into two phases of mixed field training and comprehensive counter-terrorism drills, focuses on joint counter-terrorism combats. The first-phase mainly consists exchanges on the use of light weapons, unarmed combat, explosive ordnance search and disposal, coordinated infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) boarding, and fast-roping; the second phase will focus on comprehensive exercises such as reconnaissance and penetration, fire assault, separate clearance and suppression. During the joint training, the Chinese military donated 15,000 sets of cultural, sports and medical materials to Cambodia. The Dragon Golden joint training is a practical cooperation program between the two militaries. It is aimed at strengthening mutual trust and understanding between the two armed forces and enhancing their capabilities to jointly tackle local and international security threats.

The picture shows the opening ceremony of the “Dragon Golden 2020” China-Cambodia joint military training on March 15, 2020.
The picture shows the coordinated boarding training of the Chinese and Cambodian troops in mixed groups on March 17. 

The picture shows the live-fire training of light weapons on March 19.

The picture shows the artillery live-fire training on March 20. 

The picture shows the transfer of humanitarian aid materials from the participating Chinese contingent on March 21.

Question: According to reports on March 15 from the Central News Agency (CNA) of Taiwan, the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) in Taiwan recently released a report, stating that Wuhan is an important location for the military industry on the Chinese mainland, a place with strategic importance in weapon development and also a pilot demonstration zone for civil-militaryintegration strategy. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on China's weapons and equipment plan cannot be underestimated. What is your comment?

Answer: What I can tell you is that the PLA's determination, will, and ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity will not be shaken by any force or disturbed in any way.


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