(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, welcome to this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). First of all, I have two pieces of information to release. The first one is about China-Russia joint maritime exercise.
According to the consensus reached by China and Russia, the two navies will hold a joint military exercise code-named “Joint Sea 2019” from April 29 to May 4, 2019, in the sea and airspace near Qingdao, Shandong Province, China. The subject of the exercise is “joint maritime defensive operations”. The two navies will dispatch 2 submarines, 13 surface vessels, 7 fixed-wing aircrafts, 4 helicopters and 80 marines. The exercise will be conducted in three phases, namely preparation, execution and summary, aiming at enhancing China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, enhancing friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries, and strengthening the two navies’ capability to commonly address maritime security threats. The exercise does not target any third party.
Under the strategic guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, China-Russia mil-to-mil relations is running at high level, which enriches the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership with new content on security, and contributes positive energy to world peace and regional stability. This year, the two militaries will push forward exchanges and cooperation in various fields, including high-level engagement, combat scenario-based training and international army games.
The second piece of information: With the approval by China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), a Chinese naval fleet comprised of missile destroyer Haikou and missile frigate Huangshan will berth in Hong Kong from April 30 to May 5.
During the port call, the fleet will conduct a joint training with the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, and the two naval ships will be open to the public. The port call is a planned operation during the fleet’s return to its base after attending the maritime parade of the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy. It will show the Hong Kong compatriots the achievement the PLA Navy has accomplished over the past 70 years, as well as the PLA’s determination and capability to safeguard Hong Kong’s peace and prosperity.
Question: Recently, multinational activities celebrating the PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary were held in Qingdao, Shandong Province of China. Could you please brief us on these activities?
Answer: April 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy. Over the past 70 years, the PLA Navy has developed itself through hardship, fight and innovation, making important contributions to China’s maritime security and positive efforts to maintain international maritime order. I’d like to say congratulations and pay my tribute to my colleagues in the Navy.
There are many substantive programs and highlights in the multinational naval activities. President Xi met with heads of naval delegations on April 23. During the meeting, he put forward the important initiative of building a community of a shared maritime future, which enriched the important thought of building a community of a shared future for mankind. It is a China plan to safeguard maritime peace together, build maritime order together and promote maritime prosperity together. It conforms to the trends of times, the interests of all countries and the missions of all navies. The multinational naval activities this year will be undoubtedly recorded in history with the raising of this important initiative. We hope all navies commit to peace and cooperation, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win, accelerate the building of a community of a shared maritime future and make positive contributions to the building of a community of a shared future for mankind.
Question: In the naval parade in Qingdao on April 23, we noticed that the indigenous new-type ten-thousand-ton-class destroyer Nanchang was displayed as an active ship of the PLA Navy for the first time. I remember that its hull number 101 was ever used by the destroyer Anshan. Why was the hull number given to the destroyer Nanchang again? Some comments said that the transition of the hull number marked the watershed of the PLA Navy. If the old destroyer Anshan opened an era of the initial version of the Chinese navy, the new destroyer Nanchang represents another era of the 2.0 version of the Chinese navy. Could you please comment on that?
Answer: Thank you for your care and attention to the PLA Navy. The two generations of the 101 destroyer are a symbol of the accomplishment achieved by the PLA Navy. On April 23, the multinational naval activity celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese PLA Navy was successfully held. The indigenous destroyer Nanchang with a full-displacement of 10000 tons appeared in the ship review, which drew wide attention from the media and the public. As far as I know, the Nanchang, the first one of the type 055 missile destroyers, has completed most of the sea trials and will be delivered to the PLA Navy soon.
Question: Media reports said that, on April 21, the Ministry of National Defense of China held a reception for a 100-member delegation of young officers from the African countries and the African Union visiting China. It is a large event in recent years in China-Africa security cooperation. Please give us more details about that.
Answer: China-Africa defense and security cooperation has a long history. President Xi Jinping pointed out at last year’s Beijing summit of China-Africa Cooperation Forum that the youth is the hope of China-Africa relations. To implement President Xi’s important initiatives about enhancing the youth exchange between China and African countries, the Chinese Defense Ministry invited the first batch of 100 young officers from Africa to visit China, which was actively echoed by militaries of Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria and other African countries. Now the delegation is visiting China from April 21 to 27. They have visited the August 1 Aviation Demonstration Team of the PLA Air Force, the Special Armed Police Academy. They have been given lectures about the Chinese military, and had candid discussion with the Chinese counterparts. They are also arranged to visit some high-tech enterprises to get a better understanding of the Chinese economy and society. It is a concrete measure to carry on China-Africa traditional friendship and push forward the upgrade of the China-Africa military relationship in the new era, bearing positive significance in building a closer community of a shared future for China and Africa.
Question: It is reported by some Vietnamese media that in the video released by the website of the Ministry of National Defense regarding celebrating the 70th anniversary of PLA Navy, there are some contents about the naval battle between China and Vietnam. Could you please verify that and what is your comment?
Answer: I need to check what you mentioned, but one thing is for sure that the video reflects the development of the PLA Navy. It does not target any particular country.
Currently, China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership maintains a sound and stable momentum. The two militaries maintain sound communication and close engagement. The Vietnamese navy commander along with the fleet attended the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy just a few days ago, which demonstrated both sides’ positive posture to conduct mutually beneficial cooperation and safeguard the maritime peace and security together. We are ready to join the Vietnamese side to advance the China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new level based on the 16-character guideline and the spirit of “Four Goods”.
Question: Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said during a press conference on April 23 that he hoped to visit China at the soonest and talk with Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe. It is known that he considered to visit China in early May but gave up due to failed coordination. In the recent 70th anniversary of the founding of China's People's Liberation Army Navy, Japan dispatched destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD 117) to attend the fleet view for the first time in 7 and a half years. What is your comment?
Answer: Defense exchanges and cooperation between China and Japan is an important component of the bilateral ties. Currently China-Japan relations go back to the right track. As you said, the destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD 117) took part in 70th anniversary of the founding of China's People's Liberation Army Navy, and right now the Japanese young and middle-aged officers delegation is visiting China. The PLA Naval University of Engineering is participating in the 22nd Asia Pacific Naval College Seminar (APNCS). The defense ministries of the two countries held an experts consultation for the hotline of the Maritime and Air Liaison Mechanism. China is willing to work with the Japanese side to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, enhance exchanges and communication between the two defense establishments, properly manage the differences, enhance mutual trust on security, so as to create favorable conditions for the development of the China-Japan relations in the new era, and also to make contributions to regional peace and stability.
Question: According to the US media report, the US has refused to dispatch any military vessel to attend the multinational naval activities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy on April 23 in Qingdao for worries that China may use the attending of the US to elevate its status internationally. What is your comment?
Answer: The theme of the multi-national activities is building a community with a shared maritime future. The activities appeal world navies to safeguard maritime peace, build maritime order and promote maritime prosperity together, showing the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win corporation. The activities were widely echoed and supported by the international community. More than 60 countries sent their naval delegations which covers most naval countries of the five continents. We believed that the activities will further deepen mutual trust and friendship between the Chinese Navy and its counterparts around the world.
Question: German media reported that the Medical Service of the Federal Defense Forces of Germany will hold a large-scale joint exercise with its Chinese PLA counterpart for the first time from July 3 to 17 this year. Could you please brief us on that?
Answer: In recent years, China-Germany mil-to-mil relations enjoy a sound momentum. Pragmatic cooperation including the joint exercise has made solid progress. Chinese and German militaries will hold the second medical service joint exercise this year. The two sides are in close communication on the joint exercise and we will release new information in due time.
Question: Media said that China and ASEAN countries will hold a joint drill recently. Could you please verify that?
Answer: According to the consensus reached by China and relevant countries, China-ASEAN Joint Maritime Exercise 2019 are being held from April 24 to 26 in the sea and airspace in and southeast Qingdao, Shandong Province of China. The exercise will be based on the scenario of commonly safeguarding maritime security and the theme is to jointly address the threat from pirates and provide medical aid at sea. There will be 8 subjects, including formation departure, formation communication, formation operation, inspection and arrest, joint rescue, transportation and treatment of the wounded, personnel transfer and separate navigation. The exercise will be divided into two phases. The first phase is from April 24 to 25, which will be conducted offshore. The second phase will be conducted on April 26. The PLA will dispatch 5 surface vessels while the ASEAN countries will dispatch 7.
The exercise is conducive to promoting mutual understanding and trust between the participating parties，deepening maritime defense and security cooperation and contributing energy to regional peace and stability.
Question: Media reported that recently several senior officers in the US military criticized China and the PLA. General Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a hearing of the Senate Armed Forces Committee that the input of China and Russia in space is changing the landscape of international security, and that the US must take actions in response. US Chief of Airforce Department Wilson said in a hearing that the US is facing a bigger threat in outer space and it needs to take measures to deter space war that might be waged by China and Russia. Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command Davidson said recently that China’s militarization in the South China Sea is worrying and it not only impacts economy, but also reflects China’s intention behind to reshape international order. Davidson also said the military budget for fiscal year 2020 failed to provide instant and necessary resources for the Indo-Pacific and hoped that the Congress could guarantee bigger budget to address China threat. What is your comment？
Answer: We have noticed the frequent negative comments on China from the US. They are not true and we are firmly opposed to them. China sticks to the path of peaceful development and adheres to a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China always advocates peaceful use of outer space and solving the South China Sea issue through dialogues and consultations. China will always be a builder of world peace, a contributor of world development and a protector of international order. We hope that some US officials can see China and the PLA rationally and objectively, focus on the implementation of the consensuses reached between the two heads of state to develop bilateral and mil-to-mil relationship, and on maintaining global and regional peace and stability. This is what a responsible and faithful big country should do.
Question: The US Washington Post reported on April 21 that the US Coast Guard Commander Carl Schultz said the United States Coast Guard has reinforced its deployment in the Asia-Pacific and has already participated in guard and patrol in the sea area around China. Some US experts believe that this will help the US to properly address the Chinese maritime militia claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea. If the US dispatches military vessels to confront the Chinese coast guard ships, it would be seen as unfair to the public and might cause escalation of conflicts. Could you please comment?
Answer: We are paying close attention to that. Currently, the situation in the East China Sea and South China Sea is generally stable. It proves that countris in the region have the will, confidence and capability to handle differences, maintain peace and promote prosperity. Some countries outside the region always think of some new ways to intensify their front-line military presence, pushing regional militarization, which not only harms the interests of the coastal nations, but also undermines regional peace and stability. China is firmly opposed to it.
We’d like to tell relevant parties to recognize peace and development as the trend of times, abandon the cold-war mentality, and respect other countries’ sovereignty and security. The Chinese military will take firm actions to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security, and maintain peace and stability in the region.
Question: The Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. “2+2”) was convened in Washington, D.C., on April 19. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, and the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan attended the meeting. During the meeting, the two sides for the first time confirmed that they will enhance cooperation in the fields of space and cyberspace. And they also confirmed that the Article 5 of the two countries' security treaty applies to the space and cyberspace. Besides, both sides expressed “grave concerns” over China’s activities in the East and South China Sea. Could you please comment?
Answer: The US-Japan Alliance is the result of the Cold War and bilateral arrangement, which should not be extended beyond the bilateral scope or harm the interests of any third party. We urge the relevant parties to abandon the Cold War mentality, set a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable outlook for security, and do more things conducive to regional peace and stability.
We pay close attention to the new moves by the US-Japan Alliance in outer space and cyberspace. China always stands for the peaceful use of outer space, and the building of peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyberspace. China opposes the weaponization of outer space and arms race in outer space, as well as the cyber warfare and cyber arms race. All countries should cooperate to safeguard the outer space and cyberspace security together.
Regarding maritime issues, China has always been committed to safeguarding its justified rights and interests and regional peace and stability through lawful, reasonable and friendly measures, as is obvious to the international community. We are firmly opposed to false accusations and slanders against China by relevant parties. Currently, China-Japan relations have come back to the right track, facing important opportunities and being fragile and sensitive at the same time. The two sides should implement the consensus reached by heads of states to enhance the cooperation and exchanges between defense establishments, and to create conditions for the new development of China-Japan relations. We hope that the Japanese side could take this opportunity by exercising caution and showing sincerity.
Question: India has sent two warships to attend the multinational naval events. How does Chinese military view that? It is known that Pakistan has sent high level delegation to the events but did not sent naval ships. What is your comment?
Answer: The multinational naval events of the 70th anniversary of PLA Navy held by PLAN has been widely echoed and supported by the international community. More than 60 countries sent their naval delegations, covering most countries having navies in the 5 continents. We believe that these events will undoubtedly enhance the mutual trust and friendship between the PLA Navy and its world counterparts.
China attaches great importance to China-India military relation and China-Pakistan military relation. China is ready to join India and Pakistan to push forward military relations with continuously enhanced exchanges and cooperation.
Question: More than 60 countries’ naval delegations are attending the multinational navy events. A high-level seminar is held from 24th to 25th. So what are the subjects this seminar focuses on? And what outcomes are expected from the multinational navy events regarding the international military cooperation?
Answer: The theme of multinational navy events is building a community with a shared maritime future. The seminar is conducted under this theme, and consists of three sub-topics, which are, “Sea and Community with a Shared Future for Mankind: Navy’s Role and Responsibility” ”Work together to Counter Maritime Threats and Challenges: Navy’s Practice and Contribution” ”Deliberation, Co-construction and Sharing of Global Maritime Governance: Navy’s Cooperation and Action”.
Naval delegations from the countries and military attachés in Beijing take active part in this seminar, in which all parties deliberated plans, raised new ideas and finally reached consensus on the above-mentioned topics. The Chinese military is willing to provide platforms for all cooperative parties to deepen maritime security cooperation and build a community with a shared maritime future. China is also ready to promote maritime peace, seek maritime secutity, prosper sea culture and build maritime order together with world militaries.
Question: According to media report, China and Russia recently held a planning conference on Computer-Enabled Anti-Missile exercise. Could you verify that？
Answer: According to the agreement between China and Russia, the two countries have agreed to conduct the third Computer-Enabled Anti-Missile exercise in Russia this year. The two sides held the first planning conference of the exercise from April 15 to 19 in Beijing, and discussed the time, scheme, joint training and other details. The exercise reflects the high level practical cooperation between the two militaries. It will further strengthen the two countries’ strategic mutual trust, and protect the two countries’ security interests and regional strategic balance as well.
Question: Since Trump took office, the US has made arms sale to Taiwan multiple times. And it seems to be normalized. What is your comment？
Answer: We have already stated our position on many occasions on the US’ arms sale to Taiwan. I want to stress that China is firmly opposed to any country’s arms sale to Taiwan or any official contact or military ties with Taiwan in any form. The US’ arms sale to Taiwan severely violates the One-China Principle and regulations of the Three Joint Communiqués between China and the United States. It is utterly wrong and dangerous. I also want to stress that it is doomed to fail to contain China with Taiwan and there is no way out to rely on other countries. Relevant parties should recognize the main trend today as well as the overall interests of the Chinese nation. The future of Taiwan lies in reunification and welfare of the Taiwan compatriots lie in national rejuvenation.
Question: We noticed that the Chinese Defense Minister is attending the Moscow Conference on International Security in Russia. Could you please brief us on that?
Answer: From April 24 to 29, at the invitation of Minister of Defense of Russia Gen. Sergey Shoigu, Minister of Defense of Uzbekistan Maj. Gen. Bakhodir Kurbanov and Maj. Gen. Rayimberdi Duishenbiev, chief of general staff of Kyrgyzstan Armed Forces, General Wei Fenghe, State Councilor and Minister of National Defense of China, will attend the 8th Moscow Conference on International Security in Russia, visit Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and attend the SCO member states defense ministers’ meeting in Bishkek.
The purpose of this visit is to follow President Xi’s important instructions to implement consensus reached between President Xi and heads of Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, to keep China-Russia mil-to-mil relations at high level, to deepen the friendly relations between the Chinese PLA and militaries of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, to enhance the foundation of defense and security cooperation in SCO, and to carry forward the Shanghai Spirit featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, coordination, respecting diversified civilization and seeking common development, so as to contribute positive energy to peace and development in the region.
Question: Taiwan “Central News Agency” reported that PLA military aircraft flew through the Bashi Straits on April 15th to carry out blue water training. Joseph Wu, the head of Taiwan liaison department, said that when Taiwan and the American Association in Taiwan (AIT) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the “Taiwan Relations Act”, the PLA conducted targeted military training. He added, "we will not bow to bullying." May I have any comment on this?
Answer: The PLA’s training and exercises are aimed at safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, maintaining peace and stability across the Straits, and protecting common interests of the compatriots across the straits. The DPP authorities took this opportunity to stir up, raise cross-strait confrontation, and to rely on the US. The attempt will not succeed.
If there are no further questions, here concludes today’s press conference. Thank you.