Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters' questions at a regular press conference on December 29, 2016. (mod.gov.cn/li Aimin)
(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Senior Colonel Yang Yujun:
Dear friends from the press, good afternoon! Welcome to this year’s last regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Today we also have friends from the Logistics Institute of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese people's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force Command College to observe our press conference. Welcome!
I do not have any announcement to make today, and now the floor is open for questions.
Question: Media reported that 14 provinces had completed the re-election of members of the Party Committees at the provincial level this year. If Shanghai, Tianjin and Gansu, where the reelection work is yet to be carried out, were included, there would be 17 provinces and provincial-level municipalities that have no military officers in their Party Committees. Does this mean that in the future the Party Standing Committees of the provinces and provincial-level municipalities will no longer include military officers from provincial military commands?
Answer: Your question shows that you have a keen observation. To include the main leaders of the provincial military commands into the Party Standing Committees at the same level is to uphold the Party’s leadership over the armed forces. This institutional arrangement has not been changed. Media noticed that the main leaders of the provincial military commands were not included as members of the provincial Party Standing Committees after the reelections. This is due largely to the ongoing military reform this year and the next year. Taking a variety of factors into consideration, it is decided that the main leaders of the provincial military commands do not participate in the re-elections of the provincial Party Standing Committees for the time being. When relevant reform is completed, there will be proper procedures in accordance with relevant regulation to include them into the provincial Party Standing Committees.
Question: In late December, a Chinese naval formation consisting of the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning and other ships went to the West Pacific to conduct training. Does that mean that the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning has obtained its initial operational capability?
The second question is about the military reform. On December 19, relevant drafts about the reform of military officer system were put forward by the Central Military Commission (CMC) to the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC). Gen. Zhang Yang, Chief of the Political Work Department of the CMC, proposed that the PLA should establish a rank-centered military officer system. Would you please brief us on the reform in this regard?
Answer: Your first question is a very professional one. The operational capability is the capability of the armed forces in carrying out combat operations, and the effectiveness of the operational capability depends on the quality and quantity of troops and weapons, what’s more, it also depends on the scientific structure and organization, levels of command and management, the supports capabilities, as well as military doctrines and training conditions. Any military unit needs to improve its operational capability through military training, and the effectiveness of its operational capability will ultimately be tested in real combats.
On your second question, the 25th Session of the Standing Committee of the 12th NPC has adopted the decision on the temporary adjustment to the application of relevant provisions of the Law of the PRC on Officers in Active Service and the Regulations on the Military Ranks of Officers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army regarding the posts, ranks, appointment and removal, education and training, benefits and supports as well as demobilization and resettlement, when the reform on the military officer system is carrying out. This action is a solid guarantee to ensure that the reform on the military officer system is conducted according to law in a steady manner.
The Communiqué of the Decision of the Standing Committee of the NPC has elaborated the main tasks and key areas of the reform on the military officer system. Next, the CMC will formulate an implementation plan and relevant temporary policies and regulations, and carry out necessary trial programs to orderly proceed with various reform measures according to law. With regard to the details of the reform on the military officer system, competent authorities will publicize relevant information, in accordance with the progress of the reform, in due course.
Question: According to media reports, Japanese submarine attempted to get into the formation of China’s Aircraft Carrier Liaoning when the carrier formation passed through the Miyako Strait. Later, China’s frigate dispatched the anti-submarine helicopter, which dropped sonar to chase away the Japanese submarine all the way to the waters 10kms away from the Miyako Island. Could you please confirm that? My second question is that, in the PLA Navy’s 2017 promotional video to recruit naval pilots, the standoff between the Chinese and Japanese military planes has been shown for the first time. How do you comment on that?
Answer: About your first question, relevant media outlets are way too imaginative. On your second question, it’s a common way to use video, multi-media and other means to carry out national defense education and encourage talented young men and women to dedicate to national defense.
Question: The National Interest website of the United States reported on December 18 that China sent a H-6 long-range bomber to patrol the South Pacific area. Comments said that it is China’s way to make threat and express displeasure. Could you please confirm that? Secondly, recently the US President signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, in which the military exchanges between the US and Taiwan are packed for the first time, and also a total of 80 million US dollars is appropriated to set up a propaganda center against China and Russia. What’s your comment on that?
Answer: On your first question, the relevant reports are fabricated stories.
On your second question, we are resolutely against the Taiwan-related contents in the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, and we have lodged solemn representations to the US. We are strongly discontent with the US for the signing of the Act.
The Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is entirely China’s domestic affair. The above-mentioned US Act severely violates the three joint communiqués between China and the US, and interferes with China’s domestic affairs. China will by no means accept it. We urge the US side to abide by its commitments to the Chinese side on the Taiwan question and put an end to the military exchanges and arms sales to Taiwan, so as to avoid undermining the relations between the two countries and the two militaries, as well as the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait .
You mentioned the US’s decision to set up a propaganda center against China and Russia, I do not think it is a pure military issue. However, I have noticed that even some experts in Western counties also have doubts on such a decision.
Question: 2016 was a year of probably extensive interactions between Indian and Chinese militaries. How does China’s Ministry of National Defense see the outcomes of the exchanges between the two militaries? How do you see the military exchanges between the two countries in 2017?
Secondly, India has just fired successfully its Agni-V long-range intercontinental ballistic missile recently. It is largely perceived to bring about strategic balance between India and China, because it is a long-range missile that covers whole of Asia. How do you see that? Do you have any comment on that?
Answer: On your first question, the relations between the two militaries of China and India have generally maintained a good momentum of development. The defense ministries and militaries of the two countries have conducted a series of important exchanges and activities. For example, the 8th meeting of China-India Defense and Security Consultation and the 6th joint anti-terrorism exercise held by the Chinese and Indian armies were held in India. Zhao Zongqi, Commander of the Western Theater Command of the PLA visited India this year. The PLA naval ships participated in the international fleet review in India. From the Indian side, the Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar and Chief of the Army Staff General Dalbir Singh Suhag also paid respective visits to China.
In the year of 2017, the two militaries will maintain high-level exchanges, conduct consultations and dialogues, and strengthen exchanges and cooperation in relevant fields. China expects to work with the Indian side to continuously cement and develop the friendly relations between the two militaries and contribute to the interests of the two countries and the two peoples.
My colleague in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already stated clearly China’s position on your second question.
Question: The recent training of the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning has attracted much attention. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday night when answering relevant questions that the training was carried out in accordance with the international law and practice, and that the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning should have the freedom of navigation and overflight endowed by the international law. The wording is quite similar to what has been used by the US military to conduct their freedom of navigation (FON) operations. In the past, the Chinese government and the Chinese military were against the US military’s freedom of navigation operations and refused to accept the reasoning behind them. But now you are using similar wording to defend yourself. Are the Chinese remarks on the FON self-contradictory?
My second question is about the US unmanned underwater device (UUV). We noted that, in the statement by the Chinese side, a new term ‘waters facing China’ was used. Some analysts held that the site of the UUV incident was out of the nine-dash line claimed by China. Does this indicate that there is a tendency for the Chinese military to expand its influence in the South China Sea? What specific measures have been taken by the Chinese military to identify the UUV? Has the UUV been dissembled? Are the series of high-profile activities by the Chinese military the responses to the tough remarks about China by Donald Trump, the President-elect of the US?
Answer: On your first question, we respect the freedom of navigation endowed to every country by the international law. At the same time, we oppose the abuses of the freedom of navigation by certain countries that jeopardize the security and legitimate rights and interests of other countries.
On your second question, the spokespersons of the MND and the MFA have repeatedly answered the questions concerning the UUV. The development of the incident is clear：a Chinese naval lifeboat located an unidentified device in relevant waters of the South China Sea. In order to prevent the device from causing harm to the safety of navigation and personnel of passing vessels, the Chinese naval lifeboat identified and examined the device in a professional and responsible manner. During the process, the Chinese side maintained communication with the US side, and the UUV has been handed over to the US side. You have made lots of speculations, but the matter was not that complicated. The process can be summed up in four words: discovery, verification, communication and handover.
Question: Recently, the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning’s formation navigated through the south of Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone and joined forces with the South China Sea Fleet to conduct training and exercise. Taiwan said it would conduct close monitor and reconnaissance and other measures as a response. What is your comment?
There are also some media reports from Taiwan saying that the relevant training and exercises conducted by the Chinese PLA Navy and Air Force demonstrated China’s intention to show muscles towards Taiwan, which was not conducive to the stability of the cross-Strait relations. What is your comment?
Answer: According to my knowledge, the recent training of the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning’s formation in the West Pacific and other waters were all conducted according to the training plan, and the activities of relevant parties will not affect the normal navigation and training of the formation.
Your second question is on the recent training and exercise by the PLA Navy and Air Force, in which the Taiwan question was also mentioned. We have a consistent and clear-cut policy and position on the Taiwan question. As for the relevant exercise and training activities conducted by the PLA recently, we have stated publicly again and again that these are regular and routine arrangements according to the training plan. Relevant training and exercises will help the PLA enhance its capability of deterring the Taiwan secessionist forces and safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are conducive to maintaining the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Question: On December 10, Japan’s fighter jets interfered in close range with Chinese military aircraft that were flying over the Miyako Strait to conduct routine training in the West Pacific and fired decoy flares. However, the Japanese side denied it and said that the video published by the Chinese media was not the real situation of the close encounter between Chinese and Japanese military aircraft on that day. What’s your comment? My second question is that, in the video published by the Chinese media, there were images of simulated firing of decoy flares. Is this video published by the Chinese defense ministry? If not, could you please tell us the source of the video?
Answer: I think both of your questions are related to the recent incident of the Japanese fighter jets interfering with Chinese military aircraft in close range and firing decoy flares.
In recent years, the Japanese military aircraft have interfered with the routine flight of the Chinese military aircraft for several times and posed threat to the flight safety of Chinese military aircraft. The fact is clear with solid proofs. The Japanese side should adopt a highly responsible attitude and honestly take effective measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
Question: Over a month ago, a batch of armored personnel carriers (APCs) of the Singapore were seized by the Hong Kong Customs. The Singaporean side once voiced its hope for the return of these APCs at an early date. Have these APCs been returned to the Singaporean side after more than a month of coordination?
The second question is about the training of Aircraft Carrier Liaoning in the West Pacific. Taiwan’s “Defense Ministry” stated that the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning and its formation has arrived in the South China Sea after passing the eastern sea waters off Taiwan and crossing the Bashi Strait in less than 24 hours. As a far-sea training, why is its duration in the West Pacific so short? What is its training plan in the South China Sea? Will it continue to conduct training in the South China Sea in winter?
Answer: About your first question, I do not have any new information to share at this moment.
About your second question, we have stated many times that the training conducted by the Aircraft Carrier Liaoning and its formation is a routine arrangement within the PLA’s annual training program, and the areas for training include the waters of the West Pacific and other offshore waters.
About the details of the training, the competent departments will release relevant information in due course.
Question: The Japanese defense minister visited the Yasukuni Shrine this morning. What’s your comment?
Answer: You mentioned that the Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada visited the Yasukuni Shrine this morning. We express our strong discontent and resolute objection to her action. I want to mention that yesterday, in the speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in Hawaii, he did not show any sense of remorse or regret but called the military officers who died in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor as “warriors” and used the word “Japanese Empire”. Such words and actions are worthy of high vigilance by all the peace-loving people in the world.
It needs to be pointed out that the war of aggression launched by the Japanese militarists had brought disasters and catastrophes to the countries and people in the region. History is a mirror. Only when we face history honestly, can we really have a future.
Question: The first round of consultation on the International Army Games 2017 has attracted much media attention. Prior to the consultation, the Chinese side said that it was interested in holding some of the events. What is the progress in this regard? The second question is about the spokesperson of the US Pacific Command who said recently that the US would dispatch the B-52 strategic bombers from the continental US to join the bombers deployed in Guam to conduct joint exercises in the South China Sea. They would also be joined by seven aerial tankers and the Aegis-class destroyers. What is your comment?
Answer: Based on the consultation between the Chinese and Russian sides, the Chinese military will participate in the International Army Games 2017 held in Russia next year. And some of the events will be hosted by the Chinese side and held in China. This is a reflection of the high-level military-to-military relation between China and Russia. Not long ago, the expert teams from the two militaries held the initial planning conference on the Games, and the specific events to be hosted by China will be decided in follow-up consultations.
The peace and stability of the South China Sea serve the interests of all countries. With the concerted efforts made by the countries within the region, the situation of the South China Sea is going stable. The countries outside the region should provide more positive energy instead of doing anything against this trend.
Question: Indian media reported that China and Nepal would hold their first joint training exercise between the two militaries next year. Could you please give us some details about the arrangement?
Three years and a half have passed since you said that China’s Liaoning Aircraft Carrier was not an home boy, and now the Liaoning has eventually conducted its maiden far-sea training. How do you feel about it and do you have any new comment on the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier ?
During the navigation of the Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning through the Miyako Strait, the Japanese side closely monitored the movement of the Liaoning. Do you think it necessary? Would the firing of decoy flares by the Japanese side happen again in the future if there were standoffs between the J-15 and the F-15?
You’ve also said, when answering the question on the operational capability of the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier, that the combat operational capability of the troops will be tested ultimately in real combats. My question is that, if a standoff took place between China and Japan, would the operational capability of the Liaoning be soon tested in the real combat?
Answer: On your first question, for years, the two militaries of China and Nepal have conducted exchanges and cooperation in various forms on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, which has played a positive role in enhancing each other’s capability of conducting diversified military operations. Recently, China and Nepal have conducted initial communication on holding joint training between the two armies and we will publicize relevant information in due time. On your second question, firstly I’d like to thank you for still remembering what I commented on the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier several years ago on this platform. We can view the Liaoning as a bright star on the stage, and people all over China are paying a lot of attention to and showing great interests in it. I personally would like to give my thumbs-up to the Liaoning. At the same time, I think the Liaoning has achieved just a small objective. I expect and also believe that in the future it will achieve greater objectives.
As for Japan’s close monitoring of the navigation of China’s Liaoning Aircraft Carrier, there is an old saying in China: the love for beauty is common to all. The Aircraft Carrier Liaoning looks both mighty and beautiful. If some people are attracted by it, they can either appreciate from a distance, or have a close peep. We won’t mind so long as these activities are carried out in accordance with laws without jeopardizing the Liaoning’s safety and freedom of navigation. As for your last question, I would not make any comment because it is just an imagined scenario.
Question: According to media reports, Wang Jianping, deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of China’s Central Military Commission and former commander of the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force, was absent from the 6th Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. And recently, there have been no public reports about his activities on the media. Is Wang Jianping under investigation?
Answer: Wang Jianping is suspected of the bribery crime. The military procuratorate authority has already put his case on file for investigation.
Here I want to emphasize that the Chinese PLA always upholds the principle of governing the military according to law and enforcing strict discipline, and has been conducting an in-depth anti-corruption campaign according to the arrangement of the CPC Central Committee.
In recent years, the Chinese military has handled a number of influential and serious criminal cases, promulgated a series of laws and regulations, established and improved the working mechanism featuring close coordination and cooperation among the inspection, discipline inspection, auditing and judicial branches, and tried to establish a system in which everyone dares not corrupt, can not corrupt and do not want to corrupt, and continuously fasten the cage which limits and regulates the use of power, so as to provide effective support to the building of a strong military.
Question: Recently, several photos of China’s first home-made aircraft carrier were disclosed by Japanese media. What is your comment? Could you brief us on the second home-made aircraft carrier?
Answer: About your first question, foreign journalists must abide by relevant Chinese laws and regulations when conducting coverage in China. On your second question, I do not have any information to release so far.
Question: On December 23, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was forced to meet the US missile defense challenges by enhancing its nuclear strike force. Will China also enhance its nuclear strike force to meet the challenge? Does China have a plan next year to cooperate with Russia on joint missile defense activities? Secondly, considering the far-sea training of the Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning, some Japanese media suggest that Japan should also import or build its own aircraft carriers. What’s your comment?
Answer: On your first question, China always advocates the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons on the issue of nuclear disarmament. The countries with the largest number of nuclear weapons should shoulder the greatest responsibility and take the lead in terms of nuclear disarmament.
On the China-Russia joint missile defense training plan, the two militaries held a joint media briefing on the global and regional missile defense situation during the Xiangshan Forum this year. The two sides announced that the second joint missile defense exercise would be held in 2017 to improve capabilities for air defense and missile defense joint operations.
On your second question, we do not make too much comment on what the media said. However, due to historical reasons, we hope Japan can take history as a mirror and adhere to the path of peaceful development.
Question: At last month’s press conference, you expressed that you had expectations on the defense relations with the US when Donald Trump assumes office and hoped to work together with the new administration to develop healthy and stable military-to-military relations. But after the UUV incident, Donald Trump tweeted twice to comment on the actions taken by the PLA. Now do you still think that China-US military-to-military relations can develop as you expected after Donald Trump takes office?
Answer: I do not want to speculate on the security and defense policies of the incoming administration of the US. But it needs to be pointed out that a healthy and stable military-to-military relationship between China and the US serves the common interests of both sides and also calls for joint efforts of the two sides.
Question: Recently, the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued a document on its website saying that the administration would implement the important instruction of General Secretary Xi Jinping to provide more airspace for civilian use. It is known that, in the past, the majority of airspace in China was under the control of the military. What are the details of the General Secretary Xi Jinping’s instruction? Why has it not been implemented yet? And will the military provide more airspace for civilian use?
Answer: It is a pity that I have not seen the document you mentioned. So I think I need to check the website and read the document first and then come up with an answer to your question. In January next year, we will have the Chinese Spring Festival. According the usual practice, we will suspend the regular press conference of Ministry of National Defense. If the friends from press have any question, you can keep in touch with us through phone, fax and other means and we will try to reply in a timely manner.
The year of 2016 is coming to an end. Friends from the public and media have been giving a lot of care, support and help to our work in national defense and military development as well as the information release by the Ministry of National Defense. Your care and attention motivate us to move forward. Here, on behalf of the spokesperson team of the Ministry of the National Defense, I would like to express our sincere thanks to all of you and wish everybody a happy New Year and all the best.
Let’s concludes this year’s regular press conference of Ministry of the National Defense. See you next year. Thank you！