Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), answers reporters’ questions at a regular press conference on November 26, 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.)Q: Japanese media reported that Henry Harris, Commander of US PACCOM, claimed that the US would send naval ships to conduct the so-called freedom of navigation activity near the waters of China’s Nansha Islands. The Reuters reported that the US navy would conduct the next inside-twelve-nautical-miles patrol in the waters of the Nansha Islands in December. What is your comment?
A: There is no problem for freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea. This is an iron-clad fact. We hope the US side will stop pretending to be innocent, and stop creating troubles out of a fake issue and stirring up regional tension. The military vessels and aircraft of the United States entered the relevant waters near the features of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea for the purpose of provocation. This has severely threatened China’s sovereignty and security and endangered regional peace and stability. The Chinese military forces will take all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests.
Q: During a meeting between the US President Obama and the Japanese Prime Minister Shenzo Abe in Manila, Japan reiterated its support for the so-called “freedom of navigation activities” by the US warships patrolling within 12 nautical miles of relevant islands and reefs in China’s Nansha Islands. If Japan participates in the so-called freedom of navigation activities, will it have any impact on the over-all Sino-Japanese relations? Does such kind of activity violate the four principled consensuses reached between China and Japan?
A: Japan is not a relevant party in the South China Sea issue and we are always opposed to countries out of the region to interfere in such kind of affairs. Some people in Japan boast that Japan should patrol the South China Sea, which is worthy of high vigilance. In history, Japan also patrolled the South China Sea in 1930s and 1940s, which resulted in its occupation of China’s Nansha Islands and its invasion in countries around the South China Sea like the Philippines, inflicting severe sufferings upon the people in the region. We urge Japan to do more for peace and stability in the South China Sea and for improving Sino-Japanese relations.
Q: In early November, President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, and both sides issued a joint declaration, in which it was mentioned that the two armed forces shall maintain the exchanges of high-level military delegations, make good use of such mechanisms as the Defense and Security Consultation, High-Level Meeting on Border Issues, and the Defense Telephone Link. How do you comment on the China-Vietnam mil-to-mil relationship in the past year? Will both sides further expand exchanges and cooperation?
A: As an important component of bilateral relationship, mil-to-mil relationship between China and Vietnam has been developing steadily in recent years. The two sides carried out good cooperation in high-level delegation visits, personnel training, land and maritime border defense exchange, and multilateral security. In April this year, Phung Quang Thanh, the Vietnamese Minister of Defense, visited China with Mguyen Phu Trong, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
In May, General Chang Wanquan, Chinese Minister of National Defense, and Minister Phung Quang Thanh, co-hosted the 2nd High-Level Meeting on Border Issues, which was the first time for the two defense ministers to meet in the border area.
In August, Admiral Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA, and Mr. Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy defense minister of Vietnam, co-hosted the 8th China-Vietnam Defense and Security Consultation.
In September, General Do Ba Ty, Chief of General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Armed Forces, attended the military parade held on September 3rd in China.
In October, Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh attended the informal China-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting and the Xiangshan Forum.
Besides, both sides signed an MOU on cooperation in UN Peacekeeping, set up the defense telephone link, conducted two joint naval patrols in the Beibu Gulf, and exchanged visits of young officers’ delegations.
We attach importance to developing the friendly and cooperative relationship between the armed forces of China and Vietnam, and are willing to make joint efforts with the Vietnamese side to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation, and make positive contributions to safeguarding regional peace and stability.
Q: I have a question about the Islamic State’s murder of the Chinese citizen Fan Jinghui. Did the Chinese armed forces at any point consider a military rescue for Mr. Fan from the Islamic State? More generally, do the Chinese armed forces have the capability to mount rescues in hostage situations overseas when Chinese citizens have been kidnapped by extremist groups?
A: Recently, four Chinese nationals were cruelly killed by terrorists when abroad. We send our deep mourning to the victims and sincere condolences to their families.
Terrorism is the common enemy of humanity, China has always been opposed to terrorism in all forms and is committed to enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation in the international community.
The Chinese military shoulders the responsibility of counter-terrorism and we will do our part in accordance with the overall arrangement of the state. The Chinese military has the resolve and capability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and developing interests.
Q: How is the nation-wide civilian personnel recruitment examination for the armed forces going on and what is the arrangement for the next step. The military reform is just around the corner. What are the policies concerning civilian personnel in the armed forces in this reform?
A: According to the plan, the nation-wide civilian personnel recruitment examination for the military of the year 2016 was completed on November 22. This has been widely covered by the media. In the next step, the exam result will be publicized by the end of December. By the end of early March next year, there will be interview, health check, political review, comprehensive evaluation and position matching.
For those vacancies that are not filled, a second round of recruitment will be conducted, except those who failed the health check, political review or comprehensive evaluation, all those who have not been recruited in the first round can apply for the unfilled vacancies with their exam results. The second round of recruitment will be finished by early June next year.
Right now, relevant civilian and military departments are making efforts to promulgate relevant policies concerning civilian personnel in the military in accordance with the overall arrangement of military reform.
Q: If I could ask about air fields in the South China Sea? China now has an air field on the Yongxingdao( Yongxing Island) and it appears that China may be building two or three new air fields on other islands. Could you give us some information about how many air fields China plans to build and what purposes these air fields will serve? Thank you!
A: China has sovereignty over the features of the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters. And we have the right to construct civilian facilities and necessary military facilities on our own territory. And the military facilities are purely for defensive purpose and of a limited scale.
Q: Recently, there have been several terrorist incidents involving Chinese nationals. We have noticed the Chinese armed forces have conducted joint anti-terrorism exercises within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for many times. Will such joint anti-terrorism exercises be conducted beyond the scope of the SCO? For example, will China hold joint ant-terrorism exercises with European countries or the US?
According to Russian media reports, an official source of Russia disclosed that China and Russia had reached a deal on China’s purchase of 24 Su-35 fighter jets with a total value of 2 billion U.S. dollars. Could you please confirm?
A: The Chinese military is committed to international anti-terrorism cooperation. For example, counter-terrorism has been one of the important themes in the joint exercises and training between the Chinese and foreign armed forces. In recent years, the armed forces of the SCO member states have conducted 10 joint anti-terrorism exercises on both bilateral and multi-lateral basis, which has become a regular arrangement. Joint anti-terrorism exercises have become an important component in the SCO defense and security cooperation. According to the consensus reached during the SCO defense ministers’ meeting in St. Pittsburgh this year, the armed forces of the SCO member states will hold the next joint anti-terrorism exercise in Kyrgyzstan in 2016.
Besides, the Chinese armed forces has conducted joint training with the armed forces of Pakistan, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela and Jordan with counter-terrorism as one of the training subjects. These joint exercises and training have played a positive role in deepening bilateral and multi-lateral military exchange, learning useful experience from each other and jointly improving the capabilities of coping with new threats and challenges. The Chinese side is always open to holding joint anti-terrorism exercise and training with foreign armed forces. As to the specific countries, it depends on mutual discussions and coordination.
As for the second question, both China and Russia are willing to carry out the Su-35 aircraft cooperation project. Through joint efforts, substantial progress has been achieved at the current stage. Both sides will continue to conduct cooperation in military technology based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit.
Q: The report from Tass said Russia planned to provide the first batch of S-400 air defense missile systems to China within 12 to 18 months, and the Russian government announced in April this year that it had signed a 3-billion-US-dollar contract with China on the S-400 air defense missile system.
According to the US Defense News, such air defense missile systems will greatly improve the air defense capability of the Chinese military. Could you please give your comments on this?
A: Air defense cooperation is an important part of China-Russia military technology cooperation. Relevant cooperation is going on according to plan.
Q: Bloomberg quoted an official source from the US, reporting that the Obama administration had decided to announce its 1 billion dollar arms sale to Taiwan in the middle of next month. The report also said Washington had been prepared for a strong reaction from Beijing. Could you please tell us what kind of countermeasures China has for such arms sale?
A: The Taiwan issue bears upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is a core interest of China. Our determination to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity is unswerving. We are resolutely opposed to any county’s arms sale to Taiwan. This is our consistent position.
Q: A short video clip named “UAV’s Accidental Encounter with Fighter Jets at an Altitude of 3500 Meters” has gone viral on the Internet recently and has triggered heated discussion among the netizens. In the video clip, a hovering remote controlled rotary wing UAV was conducting aerial photography over a Chinese city, which narrowly missed a landing fighter jet. It is commented that UAVs are not well supervised and there are lots of potential security hazards. What is your comment?
A: We have noticed relevant report. Illegal flight of UVAs poses threat to national public security, flight security and even air defense security. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle does not mean that man has no control or supervision over UAVs.
The State Council and the Central Military Commission pay great attention to the supervision of UAVs and require that they should be strictly overseen in the whole process of production, sale and use. Competent departments are making a series of laws and regulations in this regard. According to the current laws and regulations, all UAV flights shall apply for prior permission and can only fly after getting approval.
Q: It is learned that China will set up a logistics base in the African country of Djibouti. Can you confirm this and will it be China’s first military base overseas?
A: China and Djibouti enjoy traditional friendship. In recent years, friendly cooperative relations between the two countries have been constantly developing with pragmatic cooperation carried out in many areas. What needs to be pointed out is that maintaining regional peace and stability is in the interests of all countries and is also the common aspiration of the people of China and Djibouti and the world at large. China is willing and obliged to make more contributions in this regard.
Based on relevant UN resolutions, China has sent more than 60 naval ships in 21 batches to perform escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somali coast. The Chinese naval escort ships have encountered a lot of difficulties such as personnel recuperation, and food and POL replenishment during performing escort missions. It is indeed necessary to have effective and near-the-site logistical support.
China and Djibouti are having discussions on setting up support facilities in Djibouti. Such facilities will ensure better support for the Chinese military in carrying out UN peacekeeping operations, escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. It will play a positive role for the Chinese military to effectively fulfill its international obligations and maintain international and regional peace and stability.
Q: My question is about the South China Sea issue. The Chinese side has maintained close communication with the US side in the past. But the US side still insists on continuing its patrol within the 12 nautical miles of islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Will China consider establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea in face of such situation?
A: We have stated our position on this issue for many times. To designate or establish an Air Defense Identification Zone is the sovereign right of a country. Whether or when to establish an ADIZ depends on whether there are threats to air security and how severe such kind of threats are. And a number of factors need to be taken into consideration before making a decision. We hoped that the US side can do more for regional peace and stability, rather than on the contrary.
Q: On November 24th this month, the Su-24 fighter jet of Russia was shot down by Turkey’s military. Could you please comment on this?
A: The spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has already stated China’s position on this issue, and we hope relevant parties can strengthen communication on the issue of counter-terrorism so as to make a coordinated campaign.
Editor in Chief