(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 this month’s regular press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I have three pieces of announcements to make at the beginning.
The first announcement is about the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum. The China Association from Military Science (CAMS) and China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) will co-host the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum from October 20th to 22nd, 2019. Themed as “Maintaining International Order and Promoting Peace in the Asia-Pacific Region”, the forum will have one special plenary session, namely, “the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the PRC and Peace and Development of the World”, and four plenary sessions include “Major Country Relations and International Order, Security Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region, Interests of Small and Medium-Sized Countries and Common Security, International Arms Control Regime and Global Security”.
The hosts have sent invitations to defense and military leaders, heads of international organizations and think-tanks as well as renowned experts of over 100 countries. The Chinese side will also host a young officers’ seminar, and multiple panel discussions and seminars during the forum.
The Beijing Xiangshan Forum is a top-level “track 1.5” security dialogue hosted by China. As the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, the Chinese side holds the forum to fulfill its obligation as a major country and to provide a platform and an opportunity for different parties to exchange ideas, improve trust, manage differences and consolidate peace. The forum is also to contribute more wisdom and strength to safeguarding world peace and build a community of shared future. We welcome both Chinese and foreign media to cover the forum.
The second announcement is about China’s participation to the Center-2019 Exercise hosted by Russia. Based on agreements between China and Russia, the Chinese military will participate in the Center-2019 Exercise in Orenburg, Russia from September 16th to 21st, 2019. The subject of this exercise is “multinational combined forces conducting group counter-terrorism missions to protect military security in Central Asia”. Militaries from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will also join the exercise.
In this year’s exercise, the joint exercise control group will be formed by all participating countries. The Chinese joint campaign command organ and participating troops are from the PLA Western Theater Command. Around 1600 Chinese troops, over 300 pieces of equipment and around 30 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters will join the exercise. The exercise will be divided into two phases. The first is studying counter-terrorism combat issues with preset political and military scenarios. The second is commanding the multinational forces to conduct concentrated fire strikes to defeat terror attacks.
China takes part in the exercise to further grow the China-Russia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination and extend practical and friendly cooperation with other militaries. The exercise can improve the capabilities of China and multinational combined forces in dealing with various security threats and protect regional peace and stability. It is not targeted at any third party and is not relevant to regional situations.
The third announcement is about the International Army Games 2019. The International Army Games 2019 (IAG-2019) wrapped up successfully days ago. The Chinese military took part in 15 contests and hosted 4 of them. It’s the 6th consecutive year for the Chinese military to participate in the IAG and the 3rd for the Chinese side to host part of it. Specifically, the PLA Army hosted 4 contests in Korla of China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Soldiers from PLA Army, Navy and Air Force went to Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, India, and Iran for another 11 contests. The Chinese military ranked 1st in 4 contests and 2nd in 6 contests. They won 19 champions in individual competitions and ranked 2nd in total score.
Based on unified arrangements of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the Training and Administration Department is responsible for the coordination and direction of the IAG, relevant CMC organs for specific guidance in their professions, and services for participating and hosting contests. The Chinese side set great store by the IAG. Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military, the Chinese side upheld the principle of peace, friendship and mutual learning, and took the IAG as a realistic training opportunity and strove for the top spot in each game. The Chinese participants strictly followed the rules and hosted the games with high standards. Chinese and foreign soldiers compared notes and learned from each other under equal and fair rules. There are four characters of this year’s IAG.
First, some breakthroughs were made in China’s international military cooperation. Through the IAG, China strengthened the strategic coordination with Russia and exchanges with other friendly countries. China invited many foreign militaries to compete in China and actively participated in contests in other countries. Last year, the Chinese military went to 3 foreign countries and 10 foreign militaries came to China. This year, the number rose to 5 and 11 respectively. It's worth noting that China sent teams to Iran and India to compete and Vietnamese and Japanese representatives came to China to observe for the first time, which further expanded China’s circle of friends.
Second, solid progress was made in improving realistic training. Real time training is one of our priorities for the whole Game. China selected premium main battle, special operation and supporting forces to participate. We have included targeted training for the IAG into our annual training plan and selected participants through the mass training campaign. The Chinese military took each contest as a real combat and competed with real combat requirements and standards. The Chinese troops’ realistic training has been improved through mutual learning with other militaries.
Third, more troops are going out to beef up themselves. The IAG for the Chinese military is like an open classroom and China wants more troops to learn from it. In principle, soldiers who participated in the past should not participate again. So, 98% of Chinese participants this year are first-timers. The Chinese side hopes more troops and soldiers can compete in the global stage and be tested and trained in this kind of international games.
Fourth, the IAG as a defense education method is more effective. There were more media coverage of the IAG and more people watched the Game. China took advantage of both traditional media and the website platforms to broadcast the contests. There are 140 million watches online and over 120,000 people watched the game on site, which greatly improved the recognition for service members in the society.
All in all, participating the IAG and hosting part of it offers the Chinese military an opportunity to deepen cooperation and enhance strategic trust with other militaries, and facilitate innovation in military training. It also demonstrates the fine image of the Chinese military as a strong and disciplined force.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: On August 20, the U.S. Department of State announced the approval of selling 66 F-16V fighters worth $8 billion to Taiwan, and the Ministry of National Defense has also responded to this. What impact will Taiwan’s introduction of such advanced fighter planes have on the military strength of the two sides across the Taiwan Strait?
Answer: We have issued a statement on this matter. We know that the “One-China" Principle is the political foundation of China-US relations, and the United States have made a solemn commitment to China on the Taiwan question. However, it is a regret that the United States has been trying to contain China with Taiwan, repeatedly violating the “One-China" Principle and the three Joint Communiques of China and the United States. It has neither international credibility nor justice to speak of. We must point out that the sale of arms by the United States to Taiwan will not change the irreversible trend of China’s reunification, nor the comparison of strength of the two sides across the Strait. It will only send a wrong signal to the Taiwan “independence forces” and bring danger to the Taiwan Strait.
We have the staunch will, full confidence and capacity to defeat any form of external interference and separatist activities of Taiwan “independence forces”. We will take all necessary measures to safeguard our own interests, and will firmly safeguard the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of our country and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait at all costs. All the consequences of US arms sales to Taiwan should be borne by the US side.
Question: The State Council Information Office had apress conference this morning and announced that China will hold a National Day military parade on October 1st. Could you offer more details about the military parade? It will be the first military parade since the military reform. Are there any differences of this year’s military parade from the previous ones? The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said recently that China’s behavior is undermining the stability in the Indo-Pacific and the US side is planning to deploy ground-based intermediate-range missiles to the Asia-Pacific. Do you have any comment?
Answer: On this morning, the Information Office of the State Council held a press briefing on the activities celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Leaders of relevant departments have introduced details about the military parade on the National Day. The military parade is a major ceremony of the nation. We will carefully organize and conduct the parade and release information in due course.
On your second question, we are closely watching relevant moves. The Chinese side has stated its position for many times on the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). Actually the unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty by the US is another example of how America is pursuing unilateralism and shirking international obligations. It will have direct and negative impact on the global strategic balance and stability, regional peace and security as well as the international arms control system.
We firmly oppose any possible deployment of intermediate-range missiles by the US in Asia. This move will only undermine the security interests of the countries in the region and imperil regional peace and stability. The Chinese side urges the US side to exercise restraints and be careful with its words and deeds. China’s will and determination to protect its legitimate rights and interests are rock-solid.
Question: China and Russia had their first-ever joint strategic air patrol on July 23rd, drawing widespread public attention. Some analysts believe that this is a practical measure for China and Russia to deepen their relations. Given the rising competition between China and the U.S., as well as the U.S. and Russia, China and Russia may have the strategic intention to build an alliance to counter the United States. What’s your comment?
Answer: On July 23rd, Chinese and Russian air forces conducted their first-ever joint strategic air patrol in northeast Asia. Two H-6K bombers from China and two Tu-95 bombers from Russia patrolled a pre-planned route over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea as a mixed team. During the patrol, the two air forces’ planes strictly followed international laws and didn’t enter the air space of any other country.
China and Russia boast a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era. It is a non-confrontational relationship that is not based on alliancen or targeting third countries. Their relationship has become an example for the new model of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. It is totally different from the military alliance between some other countries. The joint patrol helped the two militaries improve their strategic coordination and joint operation capabilities, further deepen strategic trust and strengthen their capabilities to deal with various security threats. It also contributed positive energy to maintaining global strategic stability.
Question: General Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, recently visited Pakistan amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and met with Pakistani state and military leaders. What is the purpose of this visit?
Answer: China and Pakistan are unique all-weather strategic partners and iron brothers who care and help each other. Facing the complex international and regional security situation, China is willing to work with Pakistan to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, strengthen strategic communication, enhance political mutual trust and improve defense cooperation, so as to jointly safeguard regional stability. Gen. Xu Qiliang, CMC Vice Chairman, recently visited Pakistan according to the Chinese military’s international military cooperation plan for 2019.The visit is a mutually agreed program by China and Pakistan. This visit was a complete success and the media has given full coverage.
Question: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired two projectiles on August 24. The next day official media from the DPRK confirmed that it was a newly developed rocket launcher. The DPRK has launched rocket launchers for several times recently. Do you have any comment?
Answer: We have noticed relevant moves. We are now at a critical moment in realizing a political solution to the Korean Peninsula issue. We hope related parties can cherish the hard-earned easing of tensions and work together to realize enduring peace and stability on the peninsula.
Question: After withdrawing from the INF Treaty, the US tested a ground based cruise missile recently, which used to be restricted by the Treaty. Do you have any comment? Meanwhile, the US wants to bring China into a trilateral negotiation about arms control among the US, Russia and China. What’s your comment?
Answer: Soon after the withdrawal, the US side carried out a test of ground-based medium-range missile. This shows that the withdrawal was planned for a long time and the US side's rhetoric is hypothetic and pale. Such a move by the US may lead to arms race and military confrontation, and bring about serious negative impact on international and regional security and stability.
We urge the US side to abandon the outdated Cold War mentality and zero-sum game mindset, exercise restraint on arms development and do more things to contribute to maintaining global strategic balance and stability instead the opposite.
China will not participate the trilateral arms control negotiation brought up by the US. As is well known, China follows a defensive defense policy, upholds the policy of no first use of nuclear weapon and adopts an extremely restrained attitude toward the development of nuclear weapons. China has never participated in any form of arms race, and maintained its nuclear force at the minimum level required for national security.
China has been actively participating in international arms control negotiations and discussions under multilateral mechanisms such as the UN, the Conference on Disarmament and the five nuclear weapon states. Any arms control negotiation should take full account of the overall military strength of all countries and follow the basic principle of "undiminished security of all countries". It is unfair and unreasonable to ask China to participate in trilateral negotiations at the present stage.
On the other hand, as the country with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, the US should earnestly assume its special and prior responsibility in disarmament and create conditions for other countries to participate in nuclear disarmament talks, rather than abandoning treaties or withdrawing from organizations at will.
Question: The US defense officials said this week that the Chinese side denied the permission for a US military ship to visit Qingdao. Can you tell us why?
Answer: China has communicated with the US side through military diplomatic channels on this matter. We attach great importance to the development of the mil-to-mil relationship between China and the United States, but we must point out that the United States should actively create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the development of the mil-to-mil relationship.
Question: At wee hours today the PLA Hong Kong Garrison conducted the 22nd troop rotation. Is it a routine arrangement? Will there be more troops sent to the Hong Kong Garrison in this rotation compared with the previous ones? If the situation in Hong Kong shows no sign of easing before October 1, will the PLA Hong Kong Garrison participate in the efforts to bring the order back to Hong Kong?
Answer: The PLA Hong Kong Garrison started the 22nd troop rotation on the early morning of October 29. The rotation is an annual routine action in accordance with the Law of the People' Republic of China on Garrisoning the HK Special Administrative Region (SAR), which stipulates that “the Hong Kong Garrison shall practice a system of rotation of its members.” It is also an operation approved by the Central Military Commission.
As I said before, this year’s rotation is a routine arrangement and the timing of the rotation is similar to the previous ones. It is conducted according to the order of the Central Military Commission and the demands of defending the Hong Kong SAR. The garrison troops will conduct military training and perform their duties according to the annul plan and fulfill the obligation of defending Hong Kong according to law. The PLA Hong Kong Garrison will resolutely follow the command of the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission. It has the determination, confidence and capability to perform its obligations and missions entrusted by the Garrison Law and protect long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.
Question: After the college entrance examination, the admission to military colleges has become a hot topic. Can you tell us about this year’s admission work of military colleges? Are there any difference between this year’s admission work and that of previous years?
Answer: In 2019, the military colleges plan to enroll around 10,000 high school graduates from 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) in China. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military and to improve capabilities of fighting and wining wars, the admission departments from the military and local governments at various levels have been making solid efforts to select and recruit young people who want to serve the nation, have excellent academic performance and good physical and mental conditions.
There are three features in this year’s admission work: first, the fever of applying for military academies keeps rising. The admission rate for military academies reached 99.8% this year, a new record high. The military is becoming more attractive, showing the advantages of the new military academic system. Second, the quality of enrollment improves significantly. The admission scores for the National University of Defense Technology and the engineering universities of different arms and services continue to rise and those for the command academies such as the Army Infantry Academy and the Army Academy of Armoured Forces have improved significantly. Third, the admission work is fair and strict. During the admission process, seven transparent requirements including policy and regulation, admission plan, examinee qualification, exam result, admission information, appealing channel and violation handling have been strictly implemented. And great efforts have been made to enhance enrollment publicity and strengthen whole-process supervision, so as to ensure equality and fairness.
Currently, all the 2019 freshmen have registered for enrollment and the colleges and universities are organizing political review, physical check and enlistment training according to the plan.
Question: Online media reported that the Chinese PAP troops are gathered in Shenzhen in recent days. Is it related to the current situation in Hong Kong? Will the PAP troops be dispatched only if the NPC Standing Committee declares a state of emergency in Hong Kong?
Answer: The activity of the PAP in Shenzhen is in its annual training plan. The main purpose is to test the capabilities for trans-theater maneuvers and maintaining social stability. The PAP organize this kind of routine training every year. The PLA has been in Hong Kong for 22 years. Over the past 22 years, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison has always been a staunch defender of China's sovereignty, security and people's interests, a staunch defender of "one country, two systems" and a staunch defender of Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability. Over the years, the PLA Hong Kong Garrison’s troops have performed their duties in accordance with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Garrison Law and firmly upheld Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability, wining widespread praise. As for your specific question, it has been clearly stated in the relevant provisions of the Garrison Law.
Question: On the afternoon of August 19, a tourist bus carrying 42 Chinese passengers and 2 Lao citizens crashed 40 km away from Luang Prabang town in Laos. Media report that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) medical team taking part in "Peace Train-2019"China-Laos humanitarian and medical joint rescue exercise also came to the rescue. Could you please give us more details?
Answer: On August 19, a tourist bus with Chinese passengers crashed in the Laos, leaving 13 people dead and 30-plus injured. People from all across China are concerned about the victims and the rescue efforts. President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to the rescue efforts and directed the PLA medical team taking part in the "Peace Train-2019" China-Laos humanitarian and medical joint rescue exercise and medical service activities in Laos to conduct rescue operation. The medical team immediately sent a medical team and a helicopter to the site of the accident to help with the rescue, saving precious time for the wounded tourists. Up to now, all Chinese tourists have been transferred back to China and some have been released from the hospital. This operation demonstrates the PLA’s commitment to serving the people wholeheartedly. It also shows that the Chinese military is a strong guardian of the overseas interests of China and the Chinese people.
Question: Lately, China has twice said it will impose sanctions on the US companies involved in arms sales to Taiwan. There are those who argue that the US companies involved have only limited cooperation with China, thus the sanctions might only have limited effectiveness. What’s your comment on that? Could you please brief us on the details of the sanctions for the next step?
Answer: The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and brooks no external interference. Any attempt to divide China is unlikely to succeed, and any underestimation of the determination and will of the Chinese military is extremely dangerous. The Chinese side urges the US side to fully realize the serious harm caused by the US arms sales to Taiwan, understand the situation clearly, immediately cancel the above-mentioned arms sales plan to Taiwan and stop its military contacts with Taiwan, so as to avoid further damage to China-US military relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan straits.
What needs to be stressed is that we will take all necessary measures to maintain our own interests, firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity at all costs, and firmly safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan straits.
Question: My first question: The incident triggered by the revision of the extradition law has been going on for a period of time. In the middle of this month, there were reports of protesters using laser guns to illuminate the building of the PLA garrison headquarters in Hong Kong. Do you have any information about this? Has the garrison taken any measure to deal with this kind of behavior? My second question： We will hold the National Day military parade. I'd like to know if China will invite foreign troops to participate in the event.
Answer: Protests and demonstrations should be carried out in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong. The PLA garrison in Hong Kong will, as always, strictly perform its defense duties in accordance with the law. Further information on the progress of the parade will be released to the public in due course.
Question: Since beginning of August, foreign media have paid attention to the assembly and training of the People’s Armed Police (PAP) troops in Shenzhen. When will the training conclude? If the situation in Hong Kong continue to deteriorate, will the PAP troops training in Shenzhen be sent to Hong Kong to provide assistance in the efforts of maintaining social stability of Hong Kong?
Answer: The training activities to maintain social stability are the regular contents and exercises of the PAP. As for the training place, content, scale, etc., PAP has its own plans and arrangements. It is the mission of the PAP to maintain national security and social stability, protect the well-being of the people and safeguard political security, especially the security of the administration and the political system. To be the loyal guardian of the Party and the people is the fine tradition and style of the PAP, who is confident in and capable of fulfilling the tasks assigned to them by the Party and the people.
Question: According to foreign media reports, a U.S. navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer sailed within the 12 nautical miles of China’s Nansha Island on Wednesday. What’s your comment?
Answer: The spokesperson for the Chinese PLA Southern Theatre Command has already made a statement on this matter. Here I want to stress that the U.S. military is just repeating its mistakes by trespassing repeatedly into the waters and airspace adjacent to China’s Nansha islands and reefs. It severely undermines the rules of international law and China's sovereignty and security. It also imperils the peace and stability in the South China Sea. The Chinese side is firmly against this kind of operations and urges the US side to stop such provocative actions immediately so as not to trigger unexpected incidents.