Senior Colonel Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters’ questions at a regular press conference on October 29, 2015. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)(The following English text of the press conference is for reference. In case of any divergence of interpretations, the Chinese text shall prevail.)
Senior Colonel Yang Yujun:
Friends from the media, good afternoon! Welcome to the press conference of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of this month.
Q: The United States and China have signed the agreements about unexpected encounters or accidental encounters in the air and at sea, specifically at sea. How does China understand these agreements. How do they apply? Do these agreements apply in international waters? Do they apply in territorial waters? Or do they apply in both?
A: You were asking a question about the two mutual trust mechanisms between the militaries of China and the US. I would recommend you to go to the websites of China’s Ministry of National Defense and the US DOD because full texts are published on these websites.
Q: From 2nd to 5th of November, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus will be held in Malaysia. Will Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan attend the meeting? Will he meet the Japanese Defense Minister?
A: From 3rd to 8th of November, China’s State Councilor and Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan will attend the 3rd ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus in Malaysia and pay official visit to Malaysia and Cambodia upon invitation of Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh respectively.
During the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (10+8), Gen. Chang Wanquan will deliver a speech in which he will put forward China’s proposals and measures on maintaining regional peace and stability, and enhancing defense-security exchange and cooperation among countries in the region, and elaborate China’s principal stance on international and regional security.
As for the arrangement of bilateral activities during the meeting, we are in contact with relevant countries.
During the official visit to Malaysia and Cambodia, Gen. Chang Wanquan will meet and have in-depth exchange of views with government and military leaders of the two countries on bilateral state and military relations as well as on regional security situation.
Q: Japan’s Ministry of Defense published the data on October 19, showing that the number of emergency take-offs of aircraft of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force to cope with the Chinese aircraft approaching its territorial air space reached a record high from April to September in 2015. Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun also reported that Japan plans to add a second F-15 fighter squadron to the Naha Air Base in Okinawa this year and the Naha Air Base is now working at its full capacity with emergent aircraft take-off in response to the Chinese military aircraft. What’s your comment on this?
A: The data published by the Japanese side reminds me of the Japanese long-time shadowing, monitoring and interfering on the Chinese aircraft and warships, which endangers the safety of the Chinese aircraft and ships, which can easily cause maritime and aerial security incidents between China and Japan. The Chinese military aircraft enjoy the freedom of over-flight according to law in relevant airspace, and we urge Japanese side to stop any activity hampering such freedom.
Q: According to foreign media, Commander of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Admiral Wu Shengli will have a video conversation with the US Chief of Naval Operations and they will probably mention the USS Lassen’s entering into the waters within 12 nautical miles of China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Can you verify this information?
Secondly, the Taiwanese military published a report several days ago, saying that the Mainland China will have completed military preparations to launch an attack at Taiwan by the year 2020. What’s your comment?
A: For the first question, Admiral Wu Shengli, the PLA Navy commander, will have a video conversation with the US Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson on Oct. 29, which is tonight, through the MND hotline, and express China’s solemn stance to the US side on the USS Lassen’s unilateral intrusion into offshore waters of relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.
This will also be the first such conversation after the signing of new annexes to the two confidence-building mechanisms between China’s MND and the US DOD in September this year.
On your second question, the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council has stated China’s position.
Q: In the remark released on October 27 on the sovereignty of the South China Sea, the spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense mentioned that the Chinese military will take every measure to safeguard national security. Does this include military means?
A: As I have reiterated on many occasions and also in the last press conference, the Chinese military is responsible for safeguarding national sovereignty as well as security. The Chinese armed forces have strong will, sufficient strength and many options, and we will take any necessary measures to tackle various security threats.
Q: An earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck northeastern Afghanistan on the afternoon of October 26, jolting neighboring countries such as Pakistan, India and Uzbekistan, and causing many casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Will the PLA send such rescue forces as the Armed Police Force troops to the rescue site just as it had done after the Nepal earthquake? Will the PLA provide other kind of military aid?
A: We send our deep condolences to the victims of the earthquake and our sincere regards to the relatives of the diseased and the wounded. The Chinese PLA is willing to provide aid within its capability to Afghan and Pakistani militaries for their disaster relief operations after the earthquake. We will release follow-up information on this issue when it is available.
Q: According to US media, the USS Larsen’s patrol near relevant features of China’s Nansha Islands is in accordance with the principle of freedom of navigation in international law. How do you respond to freed the issue of freedom of navigation? How can China make solemn representations to the US side on this issue?
A: We have stated many times China’s of on the issue of freedom of navigation. I’d like to reiterate here that China always respects the freedom of navigation and over-flight that all countries enjoy according to international law, but we are strongly against some country’s behavior: they endanger the sovereignty and security interests of littoral countries in the name of freedom of navigation.
As for your second question, I made a related statement the day before yesterday. On Oct. 27, in spite of multiple presentations and strong opposition from the Chinese government, the US sent its missile destroyer USS Lassen to the offshore waters near the features of China’s Nansha Islands. The action by the US side severely threatened the sovereignty and security interests of China, and endangered safety of personnel and facilities on the island as well as safety of Chinese routine fishery production there.
Responding to such actions of the US side, the PLA naval missile destroyer Lanzhou and patrol vessel Taizhou followed and monitored the USS Lassen closely and sent warnings. The PLA has lodged solemn representations with the U.S. side at different levels. Senior officers of the Foreign Affairs Office of China’s MND and Chinese Defense Attaché in Washington DC met with the US officials respectively, during which they urged the US side to prevent similar incident from happening again.
As I have said just now, Admiral Wu Shengli, Commander of the PLA Navy, will have a video conversation with the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations tonight to state China’s solemn stance again.
Q: According to the news report from the US media, Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, will pay a three-day official visit to China starting from November 2nd, during which he will visit some of the Chinese military facilities. As we all know, he commanded the USS Lassen’s patrol near relevant Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. Will his visit be influenced by this incident? And according to another news report, during his visit, he will seek to establish new mechanisms with the Chinese side to prevent any accidents in the future. Do you have any news to announce concerning this visit?
A: According to the military exchange plan between China and the US for this year, Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, will pay an official visit to China within this year. Both sides are keeping in touch on relevant issues concerning the visit.
Q: The US Navy has expressed that it will send more vessels into the waters of the Nansha Islands to conduct similar patrols in the South China Sea. What measures will the Chinese side take in the future?
My second question is that, according to Japanese media report, the Chinese side is building two aircraft carriers simultaneously in Dalian and Shanghai, and there have been many pictures online about that. Do you have any information to offer concerning the progress of the building of China’s domestic aircraft carriers?
A: We would urge the US side not to go too way on the wrong path. But if the US side continue to act willfully, we will take all necessary measures according to the need. As an old Chinese saying goes, “we will confront soldiers with military forces and stem flood with dikes”. Our resolution to safeguard national sovereignty and security interests is always as solid as rock.
On your second question, I currently have no information to offer concerning the progress of aircraft carriers.
Q: In the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee which is to close today, will the plan for military reform be announced? Will this reform plan involve the establishment of the five military theatres and the downsizing of military culture troupes?
A: I’m sorry that I am not the spokesperson of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, so I have no right to make any announcement.
Q: The Indian and Chinese military officials held talks on the Working Mechanisms for Cooperation and Coordination, especially relating to the border issues early this month. Before that, in the last press conference, the PLA spokesman at that time had stated that the Indian military had actually violated the consensus reached as far as certain border stand-offs are concerned. Has this issue been discussed at that WMCC meeting and what are the decisions reached for future cooperation and coordination?
Secondly, the India-China armies held the 5th round of joint military exercises relating to anti-terrorism operations. Now that the 5 rounds have been held between the two countries, what are the prospects for any joint anti-terrorism operation in the neighborhood if and when it is required?
Thirdly, there are reports that say that General Fan Changlong, the Vice Chairmen of the Central Military Commission, is due to visit India. Can you please provide us any details?
A: On your first question, from 8th to 9th of October, China-India WMCC meeting was held in Beijing during which both sides gave a review of the border situation between China and India and the promotion of mutual trust in the past year. They also had an in-depth exchange of views on issues concerning the peace and stability along the border. I recommend you to refer to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for detailed information about this meeting.
On your second question, terrorism is the common enemy of the international community and the Chinese side is against all forms of terrorism. We are committed to the international cooperation against terrorism. The PLA shoulders the responsibility of counter-terrorism and we will do our work according to the arrangement of the Chinese government.
On your third question, according to this year’s plan for foreign military exchange, in the middle of November, General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairmen of the Central Military Commission, will pay an official visit to Pakistan and India. The purpose of this visit is to implement the consensus reached by the state leaders of both sides, enhance friendly exchanges between the Chinese military and its foreign counterparts, and to jointly maintain regional peace and stability .
Q: Can you give some details about in what way the USS Lassen endangered the safety of personnel and facilities on the islands and reefs? Did the USS ship take any actions that were dangerous or thought to be dangerous? Given that international laws allow ships to make innocent passage through territorial seas, in what way does China consider this particular mission tour being illegal?
A: On your first question, as I have answered just now, the US sent its missile destroyer USS Lassen to waters near the features of China’s Nansha Islands. Such kind of action by the US side has threatened national sovereignty and security of China, endangered safety of personnel and facilities on the islands and reefs as well as safety of routine operation of Chinese fishery workers in the area, and also damaged regional peace and stability.
On your second question, my colleague from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already responded. The US action has threatened China’s national sovereignty and security, endangered safety of personnel and facilities on the islands and reefs, and is a grave political provocation against China. The action by the US side is also against such international laws as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the domestic laws of China.
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