By Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, Deputy Director General of the Information Office of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND
Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on July 14, 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.)
Question: President Xi Jinping said at the 23rd meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that SCO must "keep in mind our founding mission, and stay in unity and coordination to bring more certainty and positive energy to world peace and development." Please brief us on the Chinese military's participation in SCO's defense cooperation.
Answer: The SCO has grown stronger through an extraordinary journey in the past 22 years. President Xi Jinping and the heads of state of other member states attach great importance to SCO defense and security cooperation. The leaders have reached important consensuses and pushed forward major cooperation programs. At present, the SCO has fostered a multi-level cooperation mechanism in the defense and security domain, and built signature programs including the Peace Mission joint exercise and the Fanfare for Peace Military Tattoo. The cooperation has advanced the SCO community of shared security and demonstrated the organization's strength and efforts in safeguarding common security and universal peace in the region and beyond.
In April this year, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense General Li Shangfu attended the SCO Defense Ministers' Meeting in India. During the event, he conveyed China's willingness to join hands with all parties in promoting the Global Security Initiative, building a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, and making greater contributions to preserving regional and global peace and stability.
China has also sent representatives to participate in activities in specific fields, such as the SCO Defense Think-Tanks Seminar and the SCO Workshop on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.
A just cause finds great support, and a journey with many companions gets far. China stands ready to work with the defense authorities and militaries of all SCO members to uphold the Shanghai Spirit, strengthen strategic mutual trust, deepen counter-terrorism cooperation, broaden the scope of cooperation, and improve cooperation mechanisms, in the endeavor to build a closer SCO community with a shared future.
Question: It is reported that vessels from Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet recently visited Shanghai and had a joint exercise with PLA Navy (PLAN) vessels. Please give us more details.
Answer: From July 5 to 11, a vessel detachment comprised of two corvettes RFS Gromkiy and RFS Sovershenniy of the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet was in Shanghai for a visit, during which the Chinese and Russian officers and sailors visited each other's vessels, had professional and technical exchanges, and conducted cultural and sports activities. After leaving the Shanghai port, the Russian vessels carried out a joint exercise covering formation maneuver, maritime communication, search and rescue at sea, and other training subjects with the PLAN destroyer Taiyuan in waters to the east of the Yangtze River estuary. The visit has further consolidated the traditional friendship between Chinese and Russian navies and reinforced their friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation.
In recent years, the Chinese and Russian navies have maintained close and frequent interactions and achieved fruitful outcomes in mutual visits, joint training, exercises and patrols, and professional exchanges. Going forward, the Chinese side is willing to work with the Russian side to strengthen communication between the two navies at different levels, organize joint exercises and patrols on a regular basis, and broaden practical cooperation in specialized areas to safeguard maritime security and regional peace and stability, and build a maritime community with a shared future.
Russian officers and sailors observe combat wound treatment demonstration. (Photo by Ge Xin)
Chinese officers and sailors visit Russia's Sovershenniy corvette. (Photo by Ren Wei)
Question: It is reported that the National Defense University of the PLA recently hosted the Forum for Heads of Chinese, Latin American and Caribbean Defense Universities and Institutes. Could you please brief us more on that?
Answer: The PLA National Defense University held the first Forum for Heads of Chinese, Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Defense Universities and Institutes from June 28 to July 4. A total of 45 delegates from 22 LAC countries participated in the forum.
Upholding the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, the forum, with the theme of "Future-oriented China-LAC Military Education Cooperation", provided a professional and high-quality dialogue platform for the commandants of Chinese and LAC defense colleges and universities. During the forum, the attendees, through special lectures, seminars and visits, explored the new missions and tasks of military academies for preserving world peace, shared their experience in military education and management, and discussed ways to deepen cooperation in military education. The forum deepened mutual understanding, trust and friendship, and achieved the goals of building consensus and enhancing win-win cooperation.
The PLA National Defense University holds the first Forum for Heads of Chinese, Latin American and Caribbean Defense Universities and Institutes from June 28 to July 4, 2023. (Photo by Liang Liang)
Question: It is reported that Gen. Mark Milley, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said lately that China wants to "be the regional hegemon in Asia within the next 10 years" and "exceed global US military power by mid-century". And the US military must maintain its decisive advantage and readiness. Please comment on that.
Answer: The US side often judges others based on its own behaviors and makes such erroneous comments from time to time. The fundamental reason for this is that the US is still stuck in its "zero-sum game" mindset and always turns a blind eye to the overwhelming trend of peace and development. The so-called maintaining its "decisive advantage" is nothing more than an attempt to remain dominant and hegemonic for self-interests.
China will never follow the beaten track of big powers in seeking hegemony. Our goal is to be a better and stronger self and be more capable of defending national sovereignty, security and development interests, so as to contribute to global and regional peace and stability and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Question: The commander of US Space Command reportedly said in an interview that despite concerns about the US lagging behind China in the space race, Pentagon is still confident in its capabilities. Please comment on that.
Answer: It is a typical symptom of cognitive dissonance for some people in the US to worry about falling behind on the one hand, but say they are full of confidence on the other hand. It is known to all that the US has accelerated its efforts to militarize outer space over recent years. The US has publicly defined space as a "war-fighting domain", established the US Space Force and Space Command, developed and deployed space-based offensive weapons, organized offensive and defensive military exercises and technological experiments, formed cliques of space alliance, and stonewalled the process of space arms control. All these actions have undermined space security and global strategic stability.
The starry space allows no flames of war spread by war-mongers. I would like to reiterate here that China stands for the peaceful use of space, firmly opposes weaponizing it or turning it into a battlefield, and is against any form of space arms race. This position has not changed and will not change. We urge the US side to stop being so aggressive and paranoid, respect the common aspiration of the international community, stop provoking a space arms race, and work with other countries to jointly preserve enduring peace and security in space.