Senior Colonel Wu Qian, Director General of the Information Office of China's Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Spokesperson for the MND, answers reporters' questions at a monthly press conference on April 26, 2018. (eng.mod.gov.cn/Photo by Li Aiming)
(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 press, good afternoon! Welcome to the monthly regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I have an announcement to make at the top.
According to the agreement of all relevant parties, the Chinese military will participate in the International Army Games – 2018 (IAG-2018) events in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and will host some of the events in China.
China will participate in 18 events abroad. In Russia, China will participate in such events as “Tank Biathlon”, the competition among tank crew, “Gunsmith Master”, the competition among maintenance platoons, “Elbrus Ring”, the competition among mountain units, “Army Scout Masters”, the competition among reconnaissance units, “Engineering Formula”, the competition among engineering vehicle crews, “Masters of Armored Vehicles”, the competition among armored vehicle crews, “Maintenance Battalion”, the competition among maintenance units, “Field Kitchen”, the competition among food service specialists, “Military Medical Relay Race”, the competition among medical units, “True Friend”, the competition among dog handlers, “Military Rally”, the competition among armored vehicle crews, “Road Patrol”, the competition among military vehicle supervisors, “Open Water”, the competition among pontoon bridge units, “Safe Environment”, the competition among NBC protection units, “Aviadarts”, the competition among flight crews, and “Airborne Platoon”, the competition among Airborne platoons. Chinese participants will also go to Kazakstan to take part in “Stable Receipt”, the competition among signal units. In Belarus, Chinese participating forces will compete in “Sniper Frontier” , the event held among snipers .
Four events of the IAG-2018 which will be held in China include “Suvorov Attack”, the competition among IFV crews, “Clear Sky”, the competition among air defense units, “Safe Route”, the competition among engineering units, and “Seaborne Assault”, the competition among Marine units.
China’s participation in the International Army Games over the years has played an active role in enhancing Chinese military’s friendships with other participating militaries including Russia, strengthening exchanges in training, and uplifting the level of actual combat military training.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: Recent media reports unveiled the commissioning ceremony of a new type of missile in a missile brigade of the Rocket Force, triggering wide speculations online on the exact type of the missile. Could you please provide us with authoritative information? And could you please brief us on the tactical performance and features of the missile? Does the commissioning of the missile mean the change in China’s nuclear policy?
Answer: The newly commissioned weaponry of the Rocket Force is Dongfeng-26 missile. After the trial and operational test, this type of missiles are ready to be equipped to the full establishment of unit and have since then been officially commissioned to the Rocket Force.
As a new generation of medium-and-long range missile, DF-26 has the following 4 features: first, it is researched, developed and manufactured by China independently and we have complete property right over it. Second, it can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, capable of both rapid nuclear counter-strikes and conventional medium-and-long range precision strikes. Third, it is capable of launching precision strikes at both critical target on land and medium- and large-sized vessels at sea. Fourth, several new technologies have been applied to the missile, which helps increase the missile’s utilization and improve its integration and informationization. It should be stressed that there is no change in China’s self-defense nuclear strategy and “No First Use” of nuclear weapons policy.
Question: According to media reports in Taiwan, the PLA Air Force recently sent several types of aircraft to patrol around the island. Would you please specify which island this “island” refers to? What is the significance of the frequent exercises conducted by the PLA near Taiwan?
Answer: Recently, the PLA Air Force dispatched multiple types of warplanes to carry out real combat training exercises in the airspace over the sea to further enhance the capability of safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The island the PLA warplanes patrolled around is, of course, China’s Taiwan Island.
The “Taiwan independence” secessionist activities pose the largest realistic threat to the peace and stability of the cross-strait relations and cause damage to the fundamental interests of the Taiwan compatriots. The series of actions we have taken are targeting the “Taiwan independence” forces and their activities, and are to protect the well-being of the people in Taiwan from being undermined by the “Taiwan independence” conspiracy. If the “Taiwan independence” forces continue to act recklessly, we will take further actions.
Question: According to media reports, Taiwan’s military held naval and air force exercise in waters off eastern Taiwan in April and Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Taiwan region, boarded a destroyer to review the exercise. In addition, the Taiwan authorities announced recently that it would conduct the Han Kuang military exercise. Some analysts believe that this is the attempt of the Taiwan authorities to counter the mainland. What’s your comment?
Answer: We will strive for the bright prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts. However, it must be pointed out that all ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist activities are doomed to failure and any attempt to resist reunification by the use of force will get Taiwan nowhere.
Question: I have a question about China’s domestically built aircraft carrier. A picture on the Chinese website this week showed the aircraft carrier starting to leave its dock in Dalian. Can you tell us whether the new aircraft carrier has already begun its sea trial? Can you share with us the name of the new aircraft carrier?
Answer: The system adjusting and fitting-out of the first indigenously made aircraft carrier are well under way. We will release information once there is any good news.
Question: According to media report, Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold an informal meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan tomorrow. And we have noted that General Wei Fenghe, Chinese Minister of National Defense, met with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on April 24. What is your opinion and expectation on the military to military relationship between China and India?
Answer: China and India are neighbors that cannot be moved away. We enjoyed friendly interactions in history and a common aspiration for future development. I recall a story that president Xi Jinping quoted when he was visiting India. More than 90 years ago, the Indian poet Tagore visited China and was warmly welcomed by the Chinese people. He said he felt like being back at home as soon as he set foot on China. When he left China, he said with sadness that his heart stayed in China.
It is a common aspiration and expectation of the people of China and India to promote the relations between the two militaries, and to protect the peace and tranquility of the border region. Even though the relations between the two militaries are still faced with some difficulties and obstacles, we would like to be guided by the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, deepen mutual understanding, enhance mutual trust and appropriately manage differences, so as to accumulate more positive energy for the sound and stable development of the mil-to-mil relationship.
Question: Australian media reported recently that China is going to build a military base in Vanuatu. And we noted that the so-called Chinese military threat was again hyped up. What is your comment?
Answer: We have refuted the rumor of China’s building a military base in Vanuatu. China unswervingly sticks to the defense policy that is defensive in nature and remains a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a protector of international order. It seems that some of the Australian media live in their own illusions and are fond of fabricating rumors. They choose to turn a blind eye to China’s peaceful development and turn a deaf ear to the contribution made by Chinese military to world peace. It reminds me of a saying: we cannot wake up those who pretend to be asleep.
Question: According to media reports, the Central Military Commission (CMC) has dispatched 6 inspection teams to the services, arms and other major units of the PLA, and all the departments directly under the CMC to conduct special inspection on respective Party committees from late March to late June. Would you please brief us on the feature of this round of inspections and the problems it aims to tackle?
Answer: Currently, the 6 inspection teams of the CMC are inspecting the conduct of respective Party committees and their members in five aspects as planned, which include studying and implementing Xi Jinping thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era and the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress; strengthening the “four consciousness” (the consciousness of politics, the consciousness of overall situation, the consciousness of upholding the CPC leadership as the core and the consciousness of keeping alignment) and resolutely upholding President Xi as the core of the leadership; carrying out the major decisions and arrangements of President Xi and the CMC; following President Xi’s order and relevant important instructions; implementing the three mechanisms of chairperson responsibility system of the CMC. Fifteen organs under the CMC and three military universities will be inspected comprehensively and thoroughly in this round. Through the inspection, we will press ahead with the resolute, comprehensive, concrete and unconditional implementation of the CMC chairperson responsibility system in order to provide staunch and fundamental political support for building a strong military in the new era.
Question: The Defense Ministers' Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Member States was held recently in Beijing. Could you please brief us on the meeting and its achievements? The second question is that, according to today’s media reports, two B-52 strategic bombers of the US Air Force flied through the Bashi Channel to the area near the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea and returned on April 24. Experts were quoted by the media in Taiwan as saying that it was a response by the US military to the Chinese mainland’s recent activities in the west Pacific region. Can you confirm and comment on this?
Answer: The 15th Defense Ministers' Meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Member States was held in Beijing from April 23 to 24. This was the first meeting of the SCO defense ministers held after the SCO’s enlargement. The meeting is themed as “building a community with shared future and seeking development through innovation and cooperation”.
President Xi Jinping met with the defense ministers during the meeting, fully affirming the positive contribution made by the SCO defense and security cooperation to the maintenance of regional security and stability.
The defense ministers conducted in-depth exchanges of views on international and regional security situation, further enhancement of the SCO member states’ pragmatic cooperation in defense and security fields, and other issues of common concern, and reached broad consensus. They also attended the opening ceremony of the 5th "Fanfare for Peace" Military Tattoo of the SCO and watched the first performance.
The meeting has scored many achievements: Firstly, a joint communiqué was issued and the meeting minutes were signed, affirming the important role of the defense and security cooperation as the cornerstone of SCO’s sound development, reiterating the strong resolve of the SCO member states to jointly strike the Three Forces and safeguard regional peace, security and stability.
Secondly, it announced the establishment of the expert working group for the Defense Ministers' Meeting of the SCO Member States and reached important consensus on further improving and developing the military cooperation among SCO members.
Thirdly, it awarded medals of “strengthening friendship and cooperation” to the representatives from SCO member states who had made outstanding contribution to the SCO defense and security cooperation.
We will work with other SCO member states to achieve more pragmatic and effective results in military security cooperation.
On your second question, the situation is under the control of the Chinese military. The PLA will, as always, firmly safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Question: On the occasion of the Chinese traditional Tomb-Sweeping Day, the 5th batch of remains of the martyrs of Chinese People’s Volunteers (PVC) killed in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea were buried in the Cemetery of Martyrs in Shenyang at the end of March. Could you please brief us on more details of the handover of remains of the Chinese martyrs found in the Republic of Korea (ROK)?
Answer: China and the ROK held a handover ceremony of the remains of the 20 Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) killed in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea at the Incheon International Airport in the ROK on March 28. A transport aircraft of the PLA Air Force went to the ROK for the martyrs’ remains. Two J-11 fighter jets of the PLA Air Force provided escort when the transport aircraft entered Chinese airspace. A burial ceremony was held at the Cemetery of Martyrs in Shenyang. The Chinese people greeted the martyrs with solemn protocol.
As far as I’m concerned, the ROK has handed over the remains of 589 CPVs killed in action since 2014. All the martyrs were buried in the Cemetery of Martyrs in Shenyang, and every year a lot of people go to sweep the tomb.
Recalling the past in the light of the present, we find ourselves in an increasingly strong China. Without the blood and tears of the martyrs, there is but a remote possibility for today’s glory. We cherish the memory of those martyrs. No matter how long they are gone, our hearts will always go with them.
Question: First, the newly issued military doctrine altered a lot of articles closely related to the interests of the service personnel. But, some are doubtful that a few units might make subordinate policies or regulations misusing the good-faithed doctrine. What can be done to ensure that the new doctrine will be strictly followed? Second, 9 years after the last fleet review, the PLA Navy held another one in mid April, the biggest in history. Could you please tell us the consideration behind the choice of time and the location in the South China Sea for this review? Third, the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier recently carried out the real-combat military drill in the South China Sea, sailed across the Bashi Channel and later around Taiwan. Does this mean that the Carrier has now acquired full combat readiness and it is now more than just an aircraft carrier for research and training purposes?
Answer: The Central Committee of the CPC, the CMC and President Xi cared a lot about the welfare of servicepersons. The recent amendment to the doctrines includes more scientific and humanistic regulations on certain affairs concerning the vital interests of servicepersons. To ensure the delivery of the doctrines’ benefits, the Training and Administration Department of the CMC has made comprehensive arrangements for the implementation of the new doctrines and ordered units at all levels to resolutely abolish any local policies or regulations inconsistent with the doctrines and will carry out constant inspection and supervision. All persons and cases violating the doctrines will be dealt with immediately, so that the authority and solemnity of the doctrines can be well preserved.
The main purpose of the fleet review is to show the great achievements that have been scored since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in the development of the People’s Navy, the latest achievements in the Navy’s efforts to carry out real combat training, the new image of the Navy in building a strong Navy through reform, the resolve to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and the support from the officers and men of the PLA Navy for President Xi Jinping as the core of the Central Committee of the CPC. This fleet review is not directed against any specific country or target; nor is it related to the situation around China.
The fighting capabilities of the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier should be improved through training and tested by real combat.
Question: The newly revised regulations of the PLA have relaxed the restrictions on the servicepersons’ using of the Internet and mobile phones as well as online shopping. While some critics claimed that it would bring convenience to servicepersons, others are concerned with the potential problem of secret leakage. What is your comment? Second question: The DPRK recently declared to stop its nuclear and ICBM tests. Has China made discussions with the ROK on the THAAD system?
Answer: First of all, thank you for following the development of the Chinese military. The administration of the use of mobile phones and the Internet is a universal problem for militaries around the world. With thorough consideration on the requirements of confidentiality and under the premise of strict administration of military secrets, the new regulations allow moderate relax of the administration of the use of mobile phones and the Internet. This is a substantial step to adapt to the development of the Internet and information society, and to meet the reasonable needs of the officers and soldiers. Leak of secrets should be prevented with comprehensive measures rather than a simple ban over the use of mobile phones and the Internet by servicepersons. The new regulations also make corresponding specifications and requirements on the administration of the use of mobile phones and the Internet in all aspects including education, personnel and facilities management, and technologies.
On your second question, in light of the latest development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and on the principle of whoever created the problem should end it, we believe that suspension of the deployment process and eventually dismantling of the THAAD system is the ultimate solution to the issue. The Chinese military will always be committed to safeguarding our national security and regional peace and stability by action.
Question: Stephen M. Young, former director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said to the media recently that the US would very likely to station Marine Corps to guard its new compound of the AIT in Taipei, which is to be open in June. What’s your comment?
Answer: We firmly oppose official exchanges and military contact between the US and Taiwan in any form. The Chinese military has firm will, full confidence and sufficient capability to defeat all attempts aiming to split our country .
Question: A delegation of lower ranking officers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) visited Japan this month after a 6-year suspension of defense exchange between the two countries. For China, what is the significance of the exchanges between the young and middle-aged military officers of the two countries?
Answer: The 11th batch of delegation of lower ranking officers of the PLA visited Japan this month. During the visit, the delegation was received respectively by the Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, Japanese Self-Defense Force. The delegation also visited relevant military facilities. We are willing to jointly work with the Japanese side to enhance mutual trust, accumulate consensus and manage and control disputes, so as to continuously improve the development of the defense relations between the two countries and make active efforts to maintain the overall situation of the bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.
Question: First of all, congratulations on the success of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) defense ministers meeting. Would you please brief us on the plan of the SCO to further promote military exchanges between China and Pakistan? And how will the organization promote the military exchange between the SCO member states for regional peace and stability?
Answer: I take note that Gen. Wei Fenghe, the State Councilor and Minister of National Defense of China met with the Pakistanis Federal Minister for Defense Production Rana Tanveer Hussain on the margin of the just concluded SCO defense ministers meeting. The two ministers exchanged views on the state-to-state and mil-to-mil relations between China and Pakistan, regional security situation and other issues of mutual concern in an in-depth way and reached consensus over a broad front. As we all know, China and Pakistan are good neighbors of peaceful coexistence, good brothers with common destiny, and good partners for common development.
This year, the two militaries of China and Pakistan will maintain the good momentum of high level exchange, actively carry out exchanges between the services, arms and universities, and organize several joint exercises and trainings focusing on real combat scenario under the multilateral framework such as the anti-terrorism cooperation and coordination mechanism of the armed forces of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan (including the Shanghai cooperation organization). We will strive to achieve fruitful results in practical cooperation in all fields.
Question: You just mentioned that the Chinese Mainland will take counter measures in response to any further actions by the ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist force. Some analysts say that the Chinese Mainland will stop only at the level of flexing its military muscles. What is your comment?
Answer: Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and the Chinese military has sent a clear and consistent message on this. We have strong resolve, full confidence and sufficient capability to defeat any secessionist attempt and safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Question: Recent media reports saw the appearance of the Su-35 fighter jets among other aircrafts in the island patrol training organized by the PLA Air Force. Does this mean the Su-35 fighters has been commissioned to the Chinese air force and are able to deliver actual combat capability?
Answer: The Su-35 is a multi-purpose fighter jet capable of air combat and precision strike against land and surface targets. Currently, the aviation troop units of the PLA Air Force have been armed with the Su-35 fighters.
Question: It is said that the Chinese and Russian militaries will hold another joint maritime exercise this year. Could you please confirm that? The second question is that after the Ministry of Veterans Affairs was established, some video clips on the internet showed that quite a few veterans went to the ministry and lined up at the gate to reflect their situations. What is the attitude of Chinese military toward these veterans? The third question is that you just mentioned that you will release information in the first place when there is good news about the domestically built aircraft carrier. After the sea trial of the home-grown aircraft carrier, China will soon have a dual aircraft carrier battle group and become the second largest aircraft carrier country only after the United States. But some people in the international community have their concerns. How do you respond to these concerns raised by the rapid development of the Chinese Navy?
Answer: According to the agreements reached by the two sides, Chinese and Russian militaries plan to hold the "Joint Sea -2018" joint military exercise in waters off Qingdao, China, within this year. At present, the military experts of the two countries are conducting the second round of consultations in Russia on the time, operation area and participating troops of the exercise. We will release information in due course about the specific arrangement of the exercise.
On your second question, the Party Central Committee attaches great importance to the veterans. The establishment of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs reflects the care and love for the veterans. It is understandable that some veterans have high expectations of the new ministry. As far as we know, the establishment of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs is in intensive process, and the ministry has begun to receive visiting veterans in an orderly manner. However, it takes time for the newly established ministry to function normally. We hope that the veterans can fully understand and support it.
On your third question, I noticed that you used the word "concerns". I think these concerns are groundless. China firmly pursues a national defense policy that is defensive in nature and a military strategy of active defense. China has always been the builder of world peace, contributor to global development and defender of international order. The development and growth of China's military power is the development and growth of world peace forces, which is there for all to see.
Question: According to recent foreign media reports, Philip S. Davidson, who has been nominated as head of the U.S. Pacific Command, submitted a written remarks for his hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee that China is expanding its military presence in the South China Sea, including building secret military bases. He said that China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States. What is your comment?
Answer: As always, we firmly oppose the remarks full of Cold War mentality and groundless accusations against China.
Question: You just mentioned that Chinese and Russian militaries will hold another joint maritime exercise, and China will take part in the International Army Game again. Does this mean that the relationship between the two militaries are becoming even closer?
Answer: In short, you are right. In recent years, the mil-to-mil relations between China and Russia maintained a positive momentum of development, with exchanges and cooperation in various fields ever enhanced and deepened, and played an important role in promoting China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination. This year, the two militaries will carry out many important activities in fields such as strategic consultation, joint exercises, military competitions and military education. The two sides will proceed from existing cooperation and jointly press ahead with lasting and in-depth development of the relations between the two militaries.
If there are no more questions, let’s conclude the press conference here. I wish you all a beautiful spring!