(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: Friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to the first regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2019. I have two announcements to release at the beginning.This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic China and April 23rd, 2019, will be the 70th birthday of the PLA Navy. As is approved by the CMC, the PLA will host multi-national navy activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy in Qingdao, Shandong Province. We will release relevant information in due course and we welcome your participation and coverage of the event.
Based on agreements of the Chinese and Cambodian militaries, the two sides will hold the "Dragon Gold 2019" Joint Training from March 10th to 27th in a training base of the 70th Infantry Brigade of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in the Kampot Province. The PLA will send 252 soldiers mainly from the Southern Theater Command Army to participate. The drill will include professional subjects training, tactical training and comprehensive training. It is aimed to promote friendship, deepen cooperation and improve counter-terror capabilities of both parties. The “Dragon Gold” is a major cooperation program between the two militaries and this year's event is the third of its kind.
Cambodia is close neighbor and a strong friend of China. In the recent two days, Lieutenant General Hun Manet, the Deputy Commander in Chief of the RCAF and Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, is visiting China. The Chinese military is willing to work together with the Cambodian military to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, protect regional peace and stability and deliver benefits to the two countries and peoples.
Question: Recently, US politicians and military officers said on different occasions that the US military would continue its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Do you have any comment？
Answer: China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and its adjacent waters. Recently, with the joint efforts of China and the ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is steadily improving. Against this backdrop, the repeated trespassing into neighboring waters and airspace of South China Sea islands by US vessels and airplanes is not only unwelcomed by all regional countries but also undermines China’s security of sovereignty, violate international laws and norms and endangers peace and stability in the South China Sea. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to these operations.
China respects freedom of navigation and overflight entitled to all countries in the South China Sea under international law. Facts have proved that navigation in the South China Sea is free. However, freedom of navigation is not equal to trespassing and violating laws. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to military provocation by any country under the pretext of freedom of navigation that harms the sovereignty and security of littoral countries and undermines regional peace and stability.
We demand the US side to respect China’s sovereignty and security, respect the common aspiration of regional countries to protect peace and stability in the South China Sea and do not stir up trouble and make waves in the region. The Chinese military will take solid measures to safeguard national sovereignty and security, and protect regional peace and stability.
Question: Recent media reports say that there is a positive momentum of development in the relations between China and Japan. Against this background, the defense departments of the two countries held an experts meeting for the direct hotline of the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism. Can you brief us on the details of the meeting and can you make some comments on the current China-Japan relationship?
Answer: Since last year, the defense departments from China and Japan have been actively pursuing defense exchanges and cooperation. The two sides have signed and initiated the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism, and held the inaugural annual meeting and a special meeting. This mechanism plays an important role in preventing miscalculation and protecting peace and stability in the East China Sea.
From 19th to 21st of February this year, the defense departments of the two countries held in Tokyo an expert meeting for the direct hotline of the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism. The two sides had candid and productive discussions, and agreed on stepping up the process of building the direct hotline so as to fully capitalize on the mechanism and develop the defense relationship.
China-Japan defense cooperation is an important component of the relations between the two countries. Currently the China-Japan relationship has been back on the right track, and we are willing to work together with the Japanese side to implement the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, strengthen exchanges and communication between the defense departments, properly manage differences, and enhance security mutual trust so as to create favorable conditions for realizing new development of the China-Japan relationship in the new historical period and contribute more to world peace, stability and prosperity.
Question: I have two questions. First, the PLA Rocket Force has launched its official Weibo accounts recently, which received wide attention from the outside world. We noticed that the PLA Rocket Force has opened two different official accounts. Do you have any special consideration? Second, just now you introduced that the PLA Navy will hold multinational naval activities on its 70th anniversary of its founding. Which major Chinese naval vessels will attend? Will the aircraft carrier Liaoning and China’s first home-made aircraft carrier participate in the relevant activities? Has China invited the navies of major foreign countries to participate, such as the United States and France?
Answer: On your first question, the PLA Rocket Force is the essential force for China’s strategic deterrence, a strategic support to China’s status as a major country, and an important foundation stone for safeguarding national security. On February 19th, the PLA Rocket Force launched two official accounts on Weibo and Wechat, namely China’s Rocket Force and Dongfeng Delivery. The launching of the two official accounts at the same time is because they will focus on different contents. China’s Rocket Force will mainly publish official information and updates of the Rocket Force, while Dongfeng Delivery will mainly tell stories and self-made videos of the Rocket Force in a more down-to-earth manner. We hope you can continue to follow the official Weibo and WeChat accounts of the Rocket Force.
On the second question, the commemorative activities marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy, including multinational naval activities, are now being planned and prepared. We will release the information in due course. As for whether the aircraft carrier Liaoning and other naval ships will attend, we will release the information in due course.
Question: My question is about the Veteran’s Support Law. Do you have any updates on this law? Some reports say that this law will be submitted to the Two Sessions in 2019. Could you confirm that?
Answer: We have noticed that the Ministry of Veterans Affairs(MVA) has done a lot of work on protecting the legitimate rights and interests of veterans. The MVA told us that in order to make the legislation in a scientific, democratic and legitimate manner, and to hear opinions from all parties, they have drafted the Veteran’s Support Law, and sent it to relevant CPCCC and state departments, provincial governments and related military departments for opinions. This draft is in line with President Xi 's important directive on veteran work and emphasizes both inheritance and innovation. It makes systematic design and specification on veterans’ retirement handover, resettlement, education and training, employment, support and pension. It also includes innovative measures, such as establishing special treatment for war veterans, building personal profile for all veterans, issuing veteran ID, and building a pilot responsibility and evaluation system on the resettlement of veterans.
Currently, the MVA is reviewing and studying the feedback from different departments. And they will keep coordination with related departments and make adjustment to the draft in accordance with the spirit of the CMC Military Policies and Institutions Reform Meeting. When the draft is better prepared，we will release it to the public for suggestion and then submit it to the National People’s Congress for deliberation.
Question: My question is about the CPLA Military Training Inspection Regulation. What are the features of the PLA’s first regulations on military training supervision?
Answer: The chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Xi Jinping signed the order to launch the trial CPLA Military Training Inspection Regulation recently. It is a significant outcome of PLA’s military training development and also marks that the military training inspection has entered a new stage.
There are four main features of this regulation. First, it turns the strategic decision made by President Xi Jinping and the CMC to establish a training inspection mechanism into concrete institutional rules. Second, it is a theoretical innovation on the missions, features and laws of military training inspection under the new military structure. Third, it focuses on solutions to peace-time ills and prominent problems in military training. Fourth, the regulation underlines a training inspection mechanism that covers all units as well as the whole-process of training. This comprehensive design provides unified regulations for training inspection in the whole process including guidance and practice, and also provides a strong institutional support for the promotion of strict training in accordance with regulations and realistic training for actual combats.
Question: The 16th China-Russia-India Foreign Ministers Meeting was recently held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province. After the meeting, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov jointly met with the press. They have mentioned that the three countries are discussing on building a Defense Ministers Meeting mechanism at an appropriate time. Do you have any comment on this?
Answer: The media has given full coverage to the China-Russia-India Foreign Ministers Meeting. And on the China-Russia-India Defense Ministers Meeting mechanism, the Chinese side is willing to maintain coordination and communication with the other two parties.
Question: Last year, there were frequent exchanges between Chinese and Russian militaries and the Chinese side sent troops for the first time to participate in“Vostok-2018” strategic exercise. Could you please tell us the cooperation between Chinese and Russian militaries in 2019 and will China’s participation in Russian strategic exercise be a regular arrangement?
Answer: In 2019, under the guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, Chinese and Russian militaries will seize the opportunity of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries to further promote exchanges at different levels, strengthen cooperation in high-level exchanges, realistic training and military competition and maintain good interactions and coordination in multilateral venues. The two sides will keep the military relationship running at a high level so as to add new impetus to the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries and make positive contribution to peace and stability in the region and the world.
Question: Last year, China conducted many joint exercises with foreign militaries. Can you tell us the plans for joint exercises with foreign militaries this year?
Answer: Thank you for your attention to the Chinese military. China-foreign joint exercises and training have become an important form of training of the Chinese military and have been normalized. They are conducive to setting up closer China-foreign military relationship and improving the realistic combat capabilities of the Chinese military.
As for this year’s joint exercises, we are maintaining close communication and coordination with foreign militaries. I believe some brand exercises and institutional exercises will be continued this year.
Question: The “Moving China - 2018” has announced the list of winners recently. We noticed that many active-duty or retired service members and veterans are on the list, such as China’s “nuclear commander” Cheng Kaijia, China’s Hero Captain Liu Chuanjian, Minesweeping Hero Du Fuguo, and the courageous folk hero Lyu Baoming. What is your comment on that?
Answer: First, I’d like to express my congratulations and respect to the winners of Moving China - 2018. For a long time, the service members and veterans accounted for a large part of the nominees and winners of the Moving China program. This is a great encouragement to the whole military. These heroes are from the people, for the people and they are moving the people with their actions. They are outstanding representatives of all men and women in uniforms. They practice the goal of serving the people wholeheartedly with their actions and even their lives. They deserve the glory name as people’s soldiers and are proved worthy of the trust of the Party and the people. The awards are both their personnel honor and the honor for all service members. It also shows the respect and admiration for service members by the whole society.
In the new era, all PLA officers and soldiers will carry on the fine tradition of the heroes and models, always uphold the nature, purpose and true colour of the people’s armed forces, shoulder the historic mission of strengthening and revitalizing the military in the new era, add glory to the August First military flag with real actions, and make new and greater contributions to the Chinese Dream and the Dream of building a powerful military.
Question: Recently, two US military vessels sailed across the Taiwan Strait again after last month’s operation, and this is the fifth operation in the past eight months. Foreign media considered these actions as the support for Taiwan. Do you have any comment? My second question is that some Japanese media reported that Japan’s defense ministry has invited many foreign countries including China to the ship parade of Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force in October. Will China participate? And also will Japan send ships to the multinational navy activities in April in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy?
Answer: The Chinese side is fully aware of all the moves of relevant US military vessels and keeps high alert to these moves all the time. And here I want to reiterate that Taiwan is a part of China; the Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is also the most important and sensitive issue in the China-US relationship. We urge the US side to abide by the ‘One China Principle’ and the Three China-US Joint Communiques, and carefully handle the Taiwan -related issues.
As for your second question, in line with the improving bilateral ties between China and Japan, the two sides will have a series of exchanges and interactions in defense and security areas this year such as the productive experts' meeting for the direct hotline of the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism. As for the specific exchanges and programs, we will keep communication with the Japanese side and release information in due course. We are currently preparing for activities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy , and we will release relevant information according to the progress in our preparations.
Question: There is a question from one of our netizens, whose online name is “请叫我十四医森”. When can we see more barracks opening activities in more provinces in China?
Answer: Thank all the netizens for their attention to the national defense and military construction of China, as well as to the news release of the Ministry of National Defense. 2018 is the year when the barracks opening work is fully carried out, and many barracks have opened their doors to the society. We have said that the door of the Chinese military would open wider. This year, some troops in 10 big and mid size cities will open to the public during the Army Day. Meanwhile, related departments will organize opening activities of naval vessels and air force’s aircraft together with the 70th anniversary celebration of the Navy and the Air Force.
Question: I have three questions. First，there were many highlights in 2018 for China’s international military cooperation. Could you please share with us the plan and measures of China’s international military cooperation this year? Second, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy. Recently, the MND website published some posts of the PLA Marine Corps, mimicking the style of the blockbuster movie Wandering Earth. Why did the MND release these posts? Are there any changes in the future in the draft, training, equipment and missions of the PLA Marine Corps? Third, recently, some media reported on a new type of ship-borne UAV of the Navy and this fixed-wing UAV, is capable of vertical takeoff and landing. Could you please tell us more details?
Answer: International military cooperation is an important for the Chinese military to build it into a world-class military. 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is also an important year for the development and reform of international military cooperation. The international military cooperation this year can be summed up in four aspects:
First, staying with the political guidance. In line with Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military, we will promote international military exchanges and cooperation in all areas to safeguard national sovereignty, security, development interests and serve the building of a world-class military and the community of shared future for mankind.
Second, serving the big picture. To build an all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered pattern of international military cooperation in the new era, we will pursue steady growth in military relationships with major countries, enhance relations with neighboring countries, expand relationships with developing countries and be more engaged in multilateral security cooperation mechanisms so as to firmly safeguard China’s security interests and peace and stability in the world.
Third, focusing on improving combat capabilities and readiness. We will strengthen exchanges and cooperation in professional areas, strengthen exercises, training and competition with foreign militaries, underline realistic training in the subjects, contents and methods of training so that international military cooperation can be a bigger contributor to the improvement of combat capabilities of our troops.
Fourth, making contributions to the world. We will vigorously fulfill the responsibility of a major country，actively participate in international peacekeeping, vessel protection and humanitarian rescue missions, strengthen international arms control and non-proliferation cooperation and provide more public goods to the international community.
On your second question: the PLA Navy is a major force for maritime operations and is responsible for safeguarding China’s maritime sovereignty, security and rights and interests. During the reform of force structure and composition, the PLA Navy Marine Corps was established. It is an important step to strengthen the force structure of the PLA Navy. As an arm of the Navy, the PLA Navy Marine Corps plays an important role in conducting diversified tasks, such as overseas vessel protection and flood and earthquake relief missions. In line with China’s national security needs, we will continue to strengthen services and arms and improve their capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.
On your third question: I do not have any information on the ship-borne UAV you just mentioned. However, I would like to say that China develop its equipment based on its evaluation of security threats it is facing. And China follows the principle of coordinated development of defense and economy and the principle of independence, innovation and civil-military integration. We carry out the research and production of weapons and equipment on ourselves.
Question: In early January, the Central Military Commission（CMC） issued the annual training order. Could you please tell us what new measures the PLA major units are taking to study and implement the CMC training order?
Answer: On January 4 this year, CPCCC General Secretary, P.R.C. President and CM Chairman Xi Jinping signed the CMC Order No.1 of the year to launch the annual military training. In mid January, the CMC’s Training Management Department sent three inspection teams to examine the implementation of the order in all the PLA major units.
We’ve already seen rapid and solid actions in all major units in implementing the CMC’s annual training order. It opened a good start of annual training and signifies a new surge of conducting training. Here, I’d like to mention three points: First, all the major units study and implement Chairman Xi Jinping’s order according to their respective training needs. They are carefully making the annual training plans now. Second, the party Committee leaders of the major units take the lead in having strict training and making great efforts to improve commanding and combat capabilities. Third, the major units are raising the difficulty and intensity of the training to steel the troops with gallantry and bravery of wining battles.
Meanwhile, we also noticed that the second batch of over 900 new military training outlines have been officially launched and come into force from January 4, 2019. It signifies that the main body of the new military training outlines have been established. The two batches of more than 1600 new military training outlines provide substantial support to the PLA and the People’s Armed Police Force to implement the CMC’s training order and conduct realistic military training.
Question: Following last month's military exercise by British warships in the South China Sea, the UK Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson recently claimed that the UK would send its HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and F-35B carrier-based fighters to the South China Sea to display “hard power”. Do you have any comment?
Answer: At present, with joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is peaceful and stable, and is developing in a positive direction. We have noticed that the spokesperson for British Prime Minister’s Office has clarified on the remarks by certain people in the UK. China respects and safeguards the freedom of navigation and over-flight entitled to all countries in the South China Sea under the international law. However, China is firmly opposed to some countries' military provocations in the South China Sea under the guise of "freedom of navigation". The Chinese military will firmly fulfill its defense duties, safeguard national sovereignty and security, and protect peace and stability in the South China Sea.
Question: On Feb. 26th, India launched an air strike on Pakistan-controlled Kashmir with 12 airplanes. Pakistan sent out fighters to respond. Yesterday, Pakistan officially declared that it shot down Indian aircraft. Do you have any comment on the military clash between China’s neighbors?
Answer: We have noticed the latest development and we are closely watching the situation. India and Pakistan are two major countries in South Asia. A harmonious relationship between the two countries serve the interests of the two countries as well as peace, stability and development in the region and the world. We hope the two sides can exercise restraint, properly handle related issues through dialogues and coordination, and prevent further escalation.
Question: Recently, the PLA Daily has some reports about proposals submitted by military representatives of the NPC (National People's Congress), including amendment of National Defense Law, legislation of military operations other than war as well as overall arrangements on border and coastal defense works. Are these proposals reflection of the promotion of running the military in accordance with the law, and what’s the current status of running the military in accordance with the law?
Answer: President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to principles of running the military with strict discipline and in accordance with the law. He has raised them to a strategic position and pointed out the direction and scientific instructions for the promotion of these principles. Currently, the entire armed forces are committed to deepening the promotion of running the military in accordance with the law, speeding up the development of military legal system with Chinese characteristics, pressing ahead with the fundamental transformation of the way to run the military, promoting legal awareness through publicity and educational campaigns, actively advancing law-based management in the military, and establishing and improving the mechanisms of legal consultation and service. With a view to resolutely maintain their fine image, China’s armed forces strive to manage the troops more strictly in all respects by fully implementing military rules and regulations, restoring and improving the traditional mechanism of using bugles to communicate and command, carrying out safety inspection to find out and tackle potential safety problems, stepping up garrison military policing efforts, taking targeted measures to strengthen the management of military vehicles, and putting into place a mechanism of regular notification on garrison military policing efforts.
Question: Just follow up on the situation of India-Pakistan conflict. India and Pakistan are both neighbors of China. Will the Chinese military increase the level of alert or take any actions in case the situation deteriorates?
Answer: Both India and Pakistan are important South Asian countries. As for the current India-Pakistan conflict, we believe that the top priority is for the two sides to exercise restraint, properly resolve the issue through dialogue and coordination, and take effective measures to prevent further escalation of the conflict.
Question: According to media reports, the first batch of civilian employees recruited by the People’s Liberation Army(PLA )and the People’s Armed Police(PAP) are now on their posts. Will the PLA and PAP recruit civilian employees on a larger scale this year? And what are the supporting policies to attract these talents?
Answer: With progress in the reform of the military and national defense, many measures on the support of service members as well as civilian employees are being researched and implemented and the society are paying higher respect and admiration to the armed forces. I believe that with more preferential policies to be staged in the future, the military will be more attractive to the talents in our society and it will be able to keep more high-quality military officers. The work of attracting talented personnel will reach a new stage.
Question: First, recently, foreign media reported that a type-055 missile destroyer will be named after Lhasa. Can you confirm it? Besides，is the type-055 missile destroyer in service now? Second, news on the Internet said that Pakistan air force pilots flying China-made JF-17 fighters to shoot down Indian military aircraft. I’d like to know your comments on that. Third, will China and Russia hold a maritime joint exercise in 2019?
Answer: We have released related information on the new type destroyer, and this type of destroyer is undergoing related trials at present. The construction of the ship is in steady progress according to the plan. The PLA has regulations on the naming of naval ships and the new vessel will be named according to relevant regulations.
On the second question, as I mentioned before, I believe the current priority is for the two sides to exercise restraint, and to stabilize the situation through dialogues and coordination and prevent further escalation. As the common neighbor of the two countries, China hopes to see peace and stability in the region, which conforms to the fundamental interests of all countries in the region.
As for the third question, I just briefed you on the considerations about the military cooperation between China and Russia. We want to keep the relationship between the two militaries running at high level, so as to continue to enrich the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with new connotation of the times and security connotation. On detailed cooperative programs, we are keeping close communication with the Russian side.
Question: On February 22nd, an exhibition with the theme of "CPLA (Chinese People's Liberation Army): A Force for World Peace" concluded in New York. Please brief us on the exhibition and its achievements.
Answer: From February 11 to February 22, local time, a photo exhibition with the theme of "CPLA: A Force for World Peace” was held at the UN headquarters in New York. It was co-hosted by the CMC Political Work Department and the Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations. The exhibition was divided into four sections such as participating in UN peacekeeping missions, securing international maritime passages, providing international relief assistance, as well as conducting security exchanges and cooperation. Via exhibition boards, pictures and short videos, the exhibition provided a multi-angle and multi-level demonstration of the Chinese military's contribution to world peace. Some UN officials and officials of other countries’ permanent missions to the UN attended the exhibition. Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare in his speech hailed China's important role in UN peacekeeping operations and thanked Chinese military's constant and widespread support to UN peacekeeping operations.
Question: During each year’s Two Sessions, China’s defense budget will attract much attention. Some critics say that China’s defense budget is not transparent and open enough. And the National People’s Congress spokesperson reiterates every year that the increase of Chinese defense budget is mainly for the upgrade of weapons and equipment as well as the improvement of living standard of servicemen. Could you give us more details and more explanations? For example, does the defense budget include the cost of research and development of weapons and the cost of purchasing weapons from abroad? We also noticed that since last year, China’s Coast Guard was assigned to the command of the Armed Police Force, which aroused much attention. Does the defense budget also cover the part of the Coast Guard?
Answer: First, we are firmly opposed to the false accusations against China's defense spending. China insists on comprehensive consideration of development and security, of national wealth and defense capabilities, and sticks to the coordinated development of national defense construction and economic growth. We adhere to the principle of diligent and thrifty military construction, make rational determination of the scale and structure of defense expenditures, and manage and use defense expenditure according to law and based on state's economic development level and national defense needs.
We publish China’s defense budget at each plenary session of the National People’s Congress. I want to stress that to being in line with the defense law and budget law, Chinese government includes all defense expenditure in the defense budget and submits the defense budget to the National People’s Congress for approval. The process is open and transparent. The defense expenditure can mainly be divided into three parts as the cost on personnel, the cost on training and maintenance, and the cost on equipment. The defense expenditure covers the cost of active duty forces, reserve force and the militia. As for the expenditure of people’s armed police force, the website of the Treasury Department has published the related information and you can refer to that.
Question: On February 28th, US President Donald Trump confirmed on the press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, that he did not signed any paper with the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) leader Kim Jong-un on their second summit. What’s your comment?
Answer: We support the DPRK and the US to solve problems through dialogue and coordination and achieve substantial progress on the denuclearization and lasting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. We expect that relevant parties can make efforts and China will also continue to play a constructive role in this issue.
If there are no more questions, here concludes today’s regular press conference. Thank you!