By Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Director General of the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
I have a piece of news at the top.
General Liu Zhenli, Commander of the PLA Army, and Lt. General Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, held a video conference on March 31. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation between the Chinese PLA Army and the Royal Cambodian Army.
China and Cambodia are close neighbors and iron-clad friends. In recent years, the Chinese and Cambodian militaries have deepened their practical cooperation in fields such as strategic communication, joint exercises and training, intercollegiate exchanges, and personnel training. The Chinese side stands ready to work with the Cambodian side to implement the important consensus reached by our state leaders, advance the state-to-state and mil-to-mil relations, and continue to build the China-Cambodia community of shared future with strategic significance.
Question: Recently, while attending a plenary meeting of the delegation of the PLA and PAP at the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), President Xi pointed out that running the military in accordance with the law is the fundamental approach of the Communist Party of China in building and running the military and is essential for achieving the Party's goal of strengthening the military in the new era. He called for implementing the strategy of running the military in accordance with the law and enhancing the rule of law in national defense and military development, so as to provide a strong legal guarantee for advancing the cause of strengthening the military. What arrangements has the Chinese military made to implement President Xi’s important speech and the spirit of the fifth session of the 13th NPC?
Answer: The fifth session of the 13th NPC is an important meeting held at a key juncture when China embarks on the new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects and marching toward the second centenary goal. On the afternoon of March 7, President Xi attended the plenary meeting of the delegation of PLA and PAP at the fifth session of the 13th NPC and delivered an important speech. Speaking from a strategic and big-picture perspective in consideration for the development of the time, President Xi recognized the progress made in national defense and military development in the past year and especially emphasized the importance of implementing the strategy of running the military in accordance with the law. He reviewed the great progress made in fulfilling the strategy of running the military in accordance with the law since the 18th CPC National Congress, systematically expounded the strategy’s profound connotations, and made arrangements for the implementation of the strategy going ahead.
The General Office of the Central Military Commission recently issued a notice stressing the study of the spirit of the fifth session of the 13th NPC, especially the spirit of President Xi’s speech should be included in the theoretical study program of the party committees of all military units at and above regiment level, incorporated in the political education of the troops and taken as part of the teaching contents of political theories at military academies, with the aim of aligning the thinking and action across the military.
First, focusing on embracing the 20th CPC National Congress and studying and implementing the spirit of the 20th CPC National Congress, the Chinese military will comprehensively strengthen the Party’s leadership and Party building by guiding the troops to have in-depth understanding of the decisive significance of establishing Comrade Xi Jinping’s core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and defining the guiding role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; strengthen their consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership; stay confident in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; 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; and implement the CMC chairman responsibility system.
Second, the Chinese military will closely follow the development and changes in security situations at home and abroad, promote military development and combat readiness together with military struggles, and conduct military struggles in a firm and flexible way.
Third, seizing the window for military development, the Chinese military will make strenuous efforts to implement the 14th Five-year Plan, deepen reform and innovation, strengthen strategic management, and strive to develop at a faster pace with higher quality.
Fourth, following the requirement of the strategy of running the military in accordance with the law, the military will consolidate the legal guarantee for ensuring the Party’s absolute leadership over the military, and regularize various activities concerning military training and preparedness according to the law, accelerate the fundamental transformation in the way of running the military, ensure that the armed forces are highly centralized, unified, secure and stable, and greet the successful convening of the 20th CPC National Congress with concrete actions.
Question: It is reported that in the National Defense Strategy transmitted by the US Department of Defense recently to the Congress, China was regarded as the "most consequential strategic competitor" for the US. Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, recently patrolled the South China Sea on a P-8A Poseidon plane, and said that China’s construction on relevant islands and reefs there has damaged regional stability and threatened nearby nations. He added that Washington’s main objective in disputed regions is to prevent war through deterrence. If deterrence fails, the second task is to get ready for combat and win. Another news report said that the US Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ship USS Miguel Keith had entered the South China Sea days ago. Please comment on that.
Answer: On March 18, President Xi Jinping had a video call with US President Joe Biden at the request of the latter. The US side reiterated that the US does not seek a new Cold War with China; it does not aim to change China’s system; the revitalization of its alliances is not targeted at China; the US does not support “Taiwan independence”; and it has no intention to seek a conflict with China. China believes that what the US has done is seriously inconsistent with President Biden’s statement and we are firmly opposed to that.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters. China’s deployment of necessary defense facilities is not only the legitimate right of a sovereign state, but also a necessary measure to deal with America’s provocations. It is in full compliance with relevant international law and practice. The label of “militarization of the South China Sea” should not be put on China but the US. When Adm. Aquilino flew over the South China Sea, he must have seen not just a scattering of islands and reefs, but also a number of American warships and planes throwing their weight around. They have come all the way to the South China Sea to stir up troubles. Regional countries know exactly what they want. Facts have proven that the US is the biggest instigator of the militarization of the South China Sea, and the biggest destroyer and troublemaker to the regional peace and stability.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué. As two major countries in the world, China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Standing at a new historical starting point, we hope the US side will work with China to draw experience and wisdom from history, and steer the relations between the two countries and two militaries back to the right track of healthy and steady development as soon as possible, so as make greater contributions to world peace and stability.
Question: It is reported that the US Pacific Air Forces Commander recently said “we got relatively close to the J-20s along with our F-35s in the East China Sea. They are flying the J-20s pretty well and we’re relatively impressed with the command and control associated with the J-20. Some of their very long range air to air missiles are aided by the KJ-500. Being able to interrupt that kill chain is something that interests me greatly.” Could you please comment on his remarks?
Answer: We’ve noticed the remarks from the American side. In recent years, the Chinese military has made great progress in developing its weapons and equipment, including main battle equipment of the air force. However, we are fully aware that there is still much room for improvement.
For a long time, America has dispatched its military vessels and aircraft to carry out large-scale and frequent close-in reconnaissance and provocative and deterrent operations against China, which has seriously damaged the mutual trust between the two militaries and endangered the safety of both sides’ vessels, planes and personnel. China is strongly opposed to such actions.
The PLA Air Force shoulders the sacred duty of defending national security in the airspace. It must be emphasized that when it comes to defending national sovereignty and security, the PLA will always be ready and capable of wielding its sword.
Question: According to the spokesperson of the delegation of the PLA and PAP participating in the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress, the defense budget for 2022 allocated by national finance is 7.1 percent higher than the actual expenditure of last year. The Associated Press claimed that China’s massive military spending over the years is challenging the U.S. military’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan expressed his hope for China to be more transparent with its defense policy and spending. By the way, according to U.S. media reports, the White House recently submitted to Congress a draft defense budget for the fiscal year 2023. Please comment on that.
Answer: Every time China announces its defense budget, there are always some officials and media from the US-led West making vicious accusations. China is firmly opposed to that.
The truth that China is a socialist country, its strategic choice to take the path of peaceful development, its independent foreign policy of peace and the Chinese cultural tradition that values peace and harmony – all these have determined that China will unswervingly adhere to a national defense policy that’s defensive in nature. Our defense development is aimed at protecting China’s security and contributing to world peace. The growth of China’s military strength is a growth of the force for peace in the world. In contrast, the U.S. military spending – the largest in the world all these years – is equivalent to about 1/4 of the world’s total and to the combined military expenditure of the nine countries trailing it. Days ago, the White House submitted to Congress a draft defense budget totaling 813 billion dollars for the fiscal year 2023. The world knows clearly its purpose. In addition to conventional forces, the U.S. is also home to the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal and is the only country with a stock of chemical weapons. In the past decades, the U.S., in blatant violation of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter as well as the norms of international law, has waged wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, causing dire civilian casualties and property losses, and huge humanitarian disasters. Facts have proven that the U.S. is the biggest culprit and backstage manipulator in undermining world peace and stability.
China’s military expenditure is open and transparent. China actively participates in the UN system on military expenditure transparency and has been submitting reports about its military spending for the previous fiscal years to the UN since 2008. Japan’s hype of the so-called lack of transparency over Chinese military expenditure is just an excuse for expanding its own military forces and breaking the post-WWII international order. In recent years, Japan has continuously increased its defense budget, stepped up funding in new combat domains including aerospace, cyberspace, and electromagnetic technologies, strengthened military deployments in its southwest, and developed high-end weapons and equipment. These dangerous moves have created tension in the region and put the international community on high alert. We urge the Japanese side to truly learn lessons from history and be very cautious with its words and deeds regarding military security.
Question: In early March, Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe held talks via video link with his South African counterpart. Please share more details on the talks, and what are the expectations of the Chinese side for the bilateral military relations?
Answer: General Wei Fenghe, State Councilor and Defense Minister, recently held video talks with South African Minister of Defense and Military Veterans Thandi Modise. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on China-South Africa military relations, anti-pandemic cooperation, and international and regional situations.
China and South Africa are good friends and partners with profound friendship and mutual trust. Under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the two militaries have seen fruitful results in cooperation in military training, medical and health care, equipment and technology, and personnel training. The Chinese military is willing to further deepen the cooperation in international peacekeeping operations, maritime security, joint exercises and training, and military medicine with the military of South Africa, and further grow the military relations.
Question: Recently, the Chinese and Indian militaries held the 15th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said that India is facing a severe situation from the Chinese side along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), to which the US keeps close attention. Please tell us more about the meeting, and what is your comment on the relevant remarks from the US?
Answer: On March 11, the Chinese and Indian militaries held the 15th round of China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting at the Moldo/Chushul border meeting point on the Indian side. The two sides held discussions on settling relevant issues in the area along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of the China-India border. The meeting was positive and constructive. The two sides reiterated that the settlement of the remaining issues would help restore peace and tranquility in the area along the LAC in the Western Sector and advance bilateral relations. They agreed to continue to maintain security and stability on the frontline in the Western Sector and maintain dialogue via military and diplomatic channels to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the remaining issues as soon as possible.
The China-India boundary question is a matter between the two countries. The two sides have agreed to properly handle the border situation through negotiation and consultation. There is no room for interference from a third party.
Question: According to reports, the Pakistan Air Force recently held a ceremony for receiving the Chinese J-10CE fighter jets. As commented by the Pakistan Prime Minister, the China-made aircraft would play an important role in correcting the “security imbalance” in the region. On March 23, the J-10CE fighter jets appeared in the military parade to mark the Pakistan Day. What’s your comment on this? Could you please brief us more on the China-Pakistan military relations?
Answer: The Chinese embassy in Pakistan has released the information about the ceremony by the Pakistan Air Force for receiving the J-10CE fighter jets. It should be pointed out that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, true friends and iron brothers that share weal and woe. China is willing to work with Pakistan to accelerate the building of a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era.
The military-to-military relations, serving as the mainstay of the China-Pakistan friendship, have played an important role in the development of bilateral relations for a long time. The two militaries have achieved fruitful results in fields such as high-level visits, joint training and exercises, anti-pandemic cooperation, equipment and technology, constantly enriching the connotation of bilateral strategic cooperation. Going forward, under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries, the Chinese and Pakistan militaries stand ready to expand practical cooperation in various fields to a new level and inject a new impetus into the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries, so as to make a new contribution to maintaining regional peace and stability.
Question: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said before the election that with American and British assistance, Australia plans to establish a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and build a nuclear submarine base on its east coast. He also announced an AUD 38 billion plan to expand Australia’s military. The Australian media commented that China's military buildup is one of the main reasons for Australia’s increase in defense spending. According to its Assistant Minister for Defense, Australia has to get prepared for the PLA’s possible actions in Taiwan and elsewhere. What’s your comment on these, please?
Answer: Recently, some politicians in Australia have intensively hyped up the China-related issues for their own selfish interests, and repeatedly made erroneous remarks on bilateral relations and Taiwan, to which the Chinese side has expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.
The nuclear submarine cooperation among the US, the UK and Australia violates the objectives and purposes of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), undermines the global nuclear non-proliferation regime as well as the regional peace and stability. It is widely opposed by the international community. However, the Australian side, in disregard of these facts, has maliciously hyped up the so-called “China military threat” to significantly expand its military strength and increase its military budget. China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to this.
Australia's erroneous remarks on the Taiwan question are very dangerous. China sternly warns the Australian side that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affairs, which brooks no external interference. If Australia insists on taking its own course, it has to be prepared to pay a heavy price for interfering in China’s internal affairs.
Question: According to reports, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said recently that Russia's special military operation in Ukraine is an act that shakes the foundation of the international order, and Japan would not allow this kind of change to the status quo by force to happen in East Asia. Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is of great significance to the security of Japan and the stability of the international community. In view of the situation in Ukraine, Japan is considering revising its National Security Strategy to comprehensively strengthen its defense forces. Kishida also said that the Japanese government has no intention of discussing the “nuclear sharing” policy under which the US nuclear weapons will be deployed on Japanese territory for joint use, but there is no problem for the political parties and even Japanese nationals to discuss the matter. What’s your comment, please?
Answer: Taiwan belongs to China and has nothing to do with Japan. It’s no good for the Japanese side to stretch its arms too long. The Taiwan question is fully and completely an internal affair of China. It is fundamentally different from the Ukraine issue.
For some time, individual political forces in Japan have been seeking various ways to create excuses to break through the post-war international order, and engage in military expansion. Lately, there have been repeated dangerous calls in Japan that contravene the “three non-nuclear principles”, which give its Asian neighbors and the international community strong reasons to be on high alert. Japan, as a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT, should earnestly fulfill its non-proliferation obligations. China always opposes the deployment of nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon states on other countries’ territories. We urge Japan to deeply reflect on its history, respect the security concerns of its Asian neighbors, and stay committed to the path of peaceful development, not the other way around.
Question: It is learned that commanders of Chinese and Thai navies held a video conference recently. Could you please give us more details on this?
Answer: On March 16, Commander of the PLA Navy Admiral Dong Jun held a video conference with Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy Admiral Somprasong Nilsamai at request. The two sides exchanged views on the bilateral naval exchanges and cooperation.
China and Thailand are one family. Over the years, the Chinese and Thai militaries have maintained close exchanges, and the relationship between the two militaries has developed in a healthy and stable manner, with fruitful results achieved. China is willing to work with Thailand to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, improve mechanisms, strengthen communication at all levels, promote practical cooperation, and jointly maintain regional security and stability.
Question: According to reports, a poll in Taiwan shows that only 35% of the respondents believed that if a conflict breaks out across the Taiwan Strait, the US would send troops to Taiwan, a sharp drop of 30.5% from October last year. The former head of the Taiwan “defense department” said that if the two sides of the Taiwan Strait went to war, the PLA would be able to end the fighting within one day or two. According to other reports, the Taiwan region recently signed an arms procurement contract with the US to purchase a Field Information Communications System. Joseph Wu, head of the Taiwan “external affairs department”, said that the US would provide Taiwan with defensive weapons in accordance with the so-called Taiwan Relations Act, and further arms sales will be announced soon. What’s your comment on this, please?
Answer: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair and brooks no foreign interference. China firmly opposes the US selling arms to Taiwan and any form of official exchanges and military contacts between the US and Taiwan.
The future of Taiwan lies in national reunification, and the wellbeing of Taiwan compatriots is linked to national rejuvenation. Those bad checks from external forces are ultimately unreliable. If Taiwan is willing to be a “chess piece” in other’s power game, it ultimately cannot escape the fate of being abandoned. From Kabul to Ukraine, for something that those countries could not get from certain foreign countries, how could Taiwan be possibly getting it? There is no way out for Taiwan to bank on foreign support, and “rejecting reunification by force” is but a dead end. When it comes to defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the PLA is always trustworthy.