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 August 27, 2015. (mod.gov.cn/Li Aiming)
Senior Colonel Yang Yujun:
Friends from the media, good afternoon and welcome to the regular press conference of the Military of the National defense, I've noticed that recently friends from the media are very busy covering the preparations for the military parade on Sept. 3 and here I'd like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you.
I'll start by making two pieces of announcement:
According to the annual exchange plan, the PLA and Malaysian Armed Forces will hold a joint military exercise code-named "Peace and Friendship 2015" in Malacca Strait and its adjacent area in the latter half of September. The subject of the joint exercise is "joint execution of non-war operations", with such training items as joint maritime escort, combined joint search and rescue of hijacked ships, GUNEX, and HADR operations.
The objective is to deepen China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership, strengthen defense exchanges and cooperation between the militaries, and improve the capability of jointly tackling security threats and maintaining maritime security in the region.
To fulfill the exercise mission, the two sides will set up a combined joint command post to lead elite units of the army, navy, and air force of their respective military to participate in the exercise. The Chinese participating force comprises of 1160 officers and men, two surface ships, one hospital ship, four transport aircraft, and three ship-born helicopters. This is the 1st time for the PLA and MAF to conduct joint live-troop exercise.
Upon consultation with the Australian and the U.S. defense departments, the armies of China, Australia, and the U.S. will hold a trilateral joint training code-named Kowari-2015 in Darwin, Australia from August 27 to Sep. 14, and the armies of China and Australia will hold a bilateral joint training code-named “Panda-kangaroo” in Canberra and Sydney from Sept. 20 to 28.
The two joint trainings are meant to increase mutual understanding and friendship, deepen practical cooperation, enhance fighting capacity of the army troops and improve the level of real-combat training. The subject for both trainings is survival in harsh natural conditions. The training items for “Kowari-2015” include outdoor food gathering and fire catching, positioning in forest, and building of shelters, and training items for “Panda-kangaroo” includes canoeing, survival in rock cave, and mountain climbing. The 14-member contingent selected from the Guangzhou Military Area Command has already embarked on its trip to Australia on Aug. 26.
Q: How the recent consultations on the China-US rules of behavior for encounters between military aircraft are going on? Will the relevant consultations be finalized before the end of the year as planned and what is the expectation of the Chinese side?
A: Last November, the defense ministers of China and the US signed the MOU on the two Confidence-building Mechanisms. These are two open mechanisms and the two sides can add annexes to expand their areas and scopes upon mutual consent. Since the beginning of this year, the two sides have conducted multiple rounds of consultations on adding two new annexes to the mechanisms, namely, the annex on rules of behavior for encounters between military aircraft and the annex on military crises notification. We are glad to see that relevant consultations are making positive progress.
Q: How is the nation-wide conscription work going on? We know that this year college students are given some preferential policies when they are enrolled into the military. Does this mean there is an increase of college-students conscripts?
A: According to the overall arrangements of the State Council and the Central Military Commission for conscription-related work in 2015, this year’s conscription work started on August 1, and eligible youth have been very active in registration. By now, more than 4.7 million eligible young men and women have made online registration, among whom more than 800 thousand are college students.
Compared with the previous years, both the number of total applicants and the number of college students applicants have increased notably. Currently the health check, political review and final evaluation of the applicants are being carried out in all parts of the country. According to plan, the new recruits will be sent to the barracks starting from Sept. 10 and will have been settled in by Sept. 30.
Q：It’s reported that, so far, 49 countries and 10 international organizations have confirmed their attendance at the military parade on Sept. 3 upon invitation. Does this mean that the status of China as the main battlefield in the eastern theatre of the WWII has been generally confirmed by the world?
A: It is a historical fact and it is without any doubt that China was the main battlefield in the eastern theatre of the Global War against Fascism. Currently, many countries and international organizations are sending their representatives to China to participate in relevant commemorative activities. We extend our welcome to them.
Q: Over the weekend, pictures appeared on the Chinese internet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tanks heading towards the border with North Korea. This followed renewed tensions between South Korea and North Korea. Can you confirm what over this period the Chinese military did to reinforce its positions on the North Korean border and what role would Chinese forces have played if there had been a military clash between North Korea and South Korea?
A:Relevant report you mentioned is not true and is merely media hype. Currently, the situation in the China-DPRK border is generally stable, and the Chinese border defense troops are maintaining regular level of combat readiness and daily training.
Q: We noticed that it was on the same day when the President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye announced her plan to attend the Sep.3 military parade in China that Kim Jong-un ordered the artillery firing toward the Republic of Korea. Some people said that the actions of the DPRK was intended to distract the military parade in Beijing. What is your comment? What is your evaluation of the current situation on the Korean Peninsula? The Republic of Korea said today that it would send a three-member military delegation to China to observe the parade, but the DPRK side is not going to send military delegation to observe the parade. How do you comment on that?
A: Your first question is about the situation on the Korean Peninsula. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly expressed China’ s policy and position on this issue. We have always been upholding peace and stability on the peninsula and have been committed to doing so with relevant sides.
On your second question for China to hold a series of commemorative activities marking the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Global War against Fascism, the objective is to remember history, pay tribute to national martyrs, cherish peace and look forward to a better future.
We have invited relevant foreign countries and militaries to send their representatives to take part in relevant activities. This is aimed at demonstrating the determination and capability of the Chinese people as well as the people of the world to jointly safeguard world peace.
As we all know, the heads of states of some countries or the government leaders of some countries will attend the ceremony while for some other countries, they will send senior officers of the armed forces to attend the commemorative activities. And some countries have dispatched their formations or representative teams to join the march-past during the parade. For all those who come, we extend our welcome and for those who do not come, we also respect their decision.
Q: During the parade, the veterans of the Communist Party and the Kuomintang Party will be reviewed together. What is the significance of such an arrangement and how can we carry forward the spirit of the Anti-aggression War?
A: During the regular press conference of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the press conferences of the Information Office of the State Council, relevant spokespersons have responded to similar questions. The victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression is a victory for the whole Chinese nation. I have noticed that when the vehicles carrying the veterans of both the Communist Party and the Kuomintang Party passed the Tiananmen Square during the dress rehearsal on Aug.23, many people rose to their feet voluntarily. They either saluted or applauded to the veterans to pay their tribute to them.
And I think this fully demonstrated all Chinese people’s respect and admiration for the veterans. In this new historical period, I hope that through commemorating the victory together, compatriots from across the Taiwan Strait can carry forward the spirit of the Anti-aggression War, keep the history in mind, cherish the memory of the martyrs and join hands to make contributions to the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and also to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Q: Deputy Chief of the Office of Military Parade Leading Group once said that the preparation work of the military parade on Sept.3 follows the principle of pragmatism, frugality and efficiency. Compared with the military parade in 2009, has the expenditure for this year’s parade been lowered? What is the exact figure?
A: During the press conference you have mentioned, relevant officials have responded to the question and I’d like to stress here that the military parade follows the principle of non-extravagance and frugality. The budget of the parade was approved according to regulations and we have been strictly sticking to the approved budget.
Q：Lian Zhan, the former Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang Party, expressed his willingness to attend the military parade to be held on Sept 3. His reason was that he attached great importance to the historical significance of the anti-aggression war and he also wished that the peaceful development of the relationship across the Taiwan Strait could be maintained. But, Hao Bocun, the other high-ranking KMT official said that he would not attend the parade. His reason was that he had questions about the anti-aggression war history described by the mainland. Could you please share your comment on the huge differences between the two KMT officials?
A: During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the forces led by the Communist Party and the Kuomintang Party of China undertook the combat tasks in the backstage battlefield and in the center stage battlefield respectively. They supported and cooperated with each other to form a strategic momentum of all-out resistance against Japanese aggression. By advocating the establishment of the United National Front against Japanese Aggression and leading its army and people to establish the broad backstage battlefield. The Communist Party of China has made great sacrifice to the victory of the Anti-Aggression War and played a vital role.
Therefore, we regard the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression as a victory for the whole Chinese nation. We welcome compatriots from Taiwan to join relevant commemorative activities.
Q: In mid-August, the border defense troops of China and India conducted a meeting in a new meeting point near the line of actual control in Ladakh，and the spokesperson for the Indian military said that this was conducive to peace and stability in the region. What is your comment?
The second question is on the Sept. 3 military parade. How many invitations have China sent out to foreign militaries? With respect to the number of the Russian formation that is going to join the parade, the Russian embassy held a press conference this morning, saying that the number of soldiers of the Russian formation is 93, but at the press conference of the Information Office of Chinese State Council, it was said that the number of each foreign formation is around 75. Would you please explain this? Is it because Russia has more soldiers in its formation that it will be the last one to appear among the foreign formations during the parade?
A: On your first question, in accordance with the consensus reached by the leaders of China and India, and the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement, the two sides will set up border defense meeting points along the different sections of China-India border.
Currently, relevant work is making substantial progress. The number of border defense meeting points in border areas has increased from 3 to 5.
To set up more meeting points in different sections along the China-India- border is conducive to strengthening communication, promoting mutual trust and avoiding misjudgment between the two militaries.
On your second question, as I have mentioned, we have sent invitations to defense departments and militaries of relevant countries. Up to now, 17 countries have sent formations or representative teams to join the parade, and many other countries will send military delegations to observe the parade.
On the specific number of each formation or representative team, the Information Office of the State Council has released relevant information on its previous press conference.
On the sequence of foreign military formations and representative teams, the international norm is to follow the English alphabetic order.
However, considering the arrangement during the Chinese formation’s participation in the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the Russian formation will be the last to appear among the foreign military formations and representative teams this time.
Q: In the second phase of the China-Russia “Joint Sea-2015” joint maritime exercise, the Chinese Air Force sent fighter jets to take part in the exercise. The timing of this joint exercise is just a little bit ahead of the Sept.3 military parade and also the area for the joint exercise is in the sea and aerial space of the Japan Sea. Does it mean that this joint exercise is aiming at something?
The second question is that, according to online media，the reform of the Chinese military will see some big breakthroughs in the near future. Could you please confirm?
A: On the first question, the China-Russia “Joint Sea-2015 (II)” maritime exercise entered a very important phase in recent days and is near the end. There is plenty of media coverage on this joint exercise.
This exercise was planned in accordance with the annual exchange program between the armed forces of China and Russia. Its objective is to strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination between the two countries and promote pragmatic and friendly cooperation between the two armed forces so as to improve the capability of both sides to jointly meet maritime security challenges. We have expressed on many occasions that the joint exercise is not targeting any third party and has nothing to do with the regional situation.
On your second question, when it comes to the reform of national defense and armed forces, I do not have information to release at the moment.
Q: It was mentioned that Lian Zhan will attend the parade on Sept. 3 as a civilian. Will he be arranged on the reviewing stand?
A: As I have just mentioned, we welcome compatriots from Taiwan to take part in relevant commemorative activities. As for the specifics, I’d like to advise you to refer to my colleagues in the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.
Q: On Aug. 21, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a report on its Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy for the first time. In the report, with respect to the disputes on the South China Sea and the East China Sea, the U.S. urged all sides to stop the land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. On the other hand, the U.S. claimed that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty applied to the Diaoyu island. What’s comment from the Chinese side?
A: The report published by the U.S. Department of Defense has made irresponsible comments on the legitimate activities carried out by the Chinese side in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. There are a lot of distortions in this report and it is filled with the “China Threat” cliché, and I’d like to say that this is no more than putting the same old wine in a new bottle.
In reality, the U.S. is carrying on its “rebalancing” strategy in the Asia-Pacific region and enhancing its military presence and military alliance in this region. This is what the international community should be concerned about.
Q: Can you tell us what kind of clothes the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China，President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Xi Jinping will be wearing at the parade? Prime Minister Abe from Japan is not coming. Japan is not participating. And the focus of the commemorations is the victory over Japan 70 years ago. What kind of message do you think this parade will send to the people of Japan today who have lived in peace for 70 years and who have renounced war and renounced aggression against other counties? What kind of message do you think this display of military might on China’s part will send to the Japanese today?
A: On your first question, I think all of us are expecting to get the answer on Sept. 3.
On your second question, we have reiterated on many occasions that the military parade is part of the commemorative activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Global War against Fascism.
The objective of the parade is to remember history, pay tribute to national martyrs, cherish peace and create the future. The parade is not targeting any other country, not targeting today's Japan, not least targeting the Japanese people. The parade is not directly related to the Sino-Japanese relations either.
As you have noticed that numerous countries will send their representatives to take part in the parade. This demonstrates the internationalism of commemorating the victory of the Global War against Fascism. China is ready to make joint efforts with other countries in the world to maintain historical justice, safeguard the victorious outcome of the WWII, and maintain peace, safety and stability in the world.
Q: Are the chemical defense troops of the PLA still working on site in the port of Tianjin? What specific missions have they carried out? What is the total number of military personnel participating in the disaster relief mission? And is there any report of injury or casualty of military personnel during the disaster relief mission?
A: Currently, there are 495 officers and men of the PLA chemical defense troops, plus 79 chemical defense experts on site in Tianjin port for disaster relief operation.
Their mission is to search and rescue personnel at the epicenter of the explosion site, and to identify, classify, decontaminate and transfer hazardous chemicals. They are also responsible for sampling and monitoring the air, soil and water conditions, and providing professional advices. Up to now, there is no injury or casualty of military personnel during the disaster relief operations.
That concludes today’s press conference. See you next time.