(NOTE: GENERAL FANG’S REMARKS ARE PROVIDED THROUGH AN INTERPRETER.)
MS. : (In progress) – questions. Now, I’d like to give the floor to General Fang.
GENERAL FANG FENGHUI: Friends of the media, good evening. At my invitation, General Dempsey, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is currently on a visit to China from April the 21st to the 25th. The Chinese – (inaudible) – is of much importance to General Dempsey’s visit to China, and has made a lot of – has put a lot of time and effort into his visit.
Senior Chinese leaderships will meet with him. General Dempsey will also go visit the National Defense University, have conversations with students there. He will go visit an army aviation too—an army aviation academy. We are confident that through the joint efforts from both China and the United States, General Dempsey’s visit to China will be a full success.
Just now General Dempsey and I had a small-scale and a large-scale meeting. The two sides had a very in-depth exchange of views and ideas on China-U.S. state-to-state and mil-to-mil relations, as well as some regional and some international issues. We believe that a mil-to-mil relationship is an important part of our state-to-state relationship, and currently our mil-mil relationship has led to good momentum of development.
It is important, as we implement the important consensus reached on two – (inaudible) – things, focus our work on the strategic positioning of China-U.S. cooperative partnership and explore to develop a new type of international relations. These can extend the cooperation between our two militaries and work actively to develop a new type of military relationship that is consistent with our state-to-state relationship.
Second, the Chinese and the U.S. militaries are taking an increasingly important role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important for our two sides to play a constructive role in regional affairs and to work to have real cooperation and maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
So we should work to enhance consultation and dialogue between the two militaries and to enhance the exchange of high-level visits between the two militaries so as to build up mutual trust. The two sides have an in-depth exchange of views on Taiwan issues, Diaoyu Islands issue and the North Korean issue. We are all willing to make concert – and an active effort to maintain the regional peace and stability.
So the two – the two militaries share a vast common interest and foundation for cooperation in the nontraditional security goals. We should continue to stress in our cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, anti-piracy and peacekeeping. The two armies will have a live HADR exercise in 2013, and the two navies will have another anti-piracy joint exercise in the Gulf of Aden and to include the practical cooperation between the two militaries.
The meetings were conducted in a candid, friendly and constructive atmosphere and will achieve positive results. I’m willing to work together with General Dempsey to make efforts in advancing the new type of China-U.S. military relationship.
Now I’d like to pass the floor to General Dempsey.
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Thank you.
I’d first like to offer my condolences to the families of those who were killed in the earthquake in Sichuan Province. And I want to compliment the People’s Liberation Army for their response and in particular compliment General Fang on his leadership of that effort on the military side.
Also going to extend my sympathy to the family of Lu Lingzi, who was a gifted student tragically killed in the Boston marathon bombings, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her grieving family.
I was very pleased today to meet General Fang in person. We had previously only spoken by phone. And my wife, Deanie, and I are very thankful for your kind welcome and your hospitality. And this, I should mention, while he’s also supervising the relief effort. I’m very pleased to be here in China for my first visit as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also very, very pleased with the program that the general and his staff put together for me.
General Fang and our staffs had productive meetings today. In fact, through most of the afternoon, we discussed many issues of mutual interest. Our theme was quite simple, actually: A stable and prosperous region is in everyone’s best interests. And in particular, healthy, stable, reliable and continuous military-to-military relations are an essential part of our overall relationship between the United States and China.
I’ve always believed that personal relationships are the key to addressing areas of mutual concern. Increased cooperation, improved channels of communication and continuous interaction between our militaries improves our relationship and certainly helps us to understand each other better. Today’s discussions with General Fang and his leadership team are an important next step in this direction, and I look forward to many more. “Xièxiè.”
MS. : Now the floor is open for questions.
Q: I’m with – (inaudible) – News Agency. Does China and the United States have a lot of traditional and nontraditional security threats in the Asia-Pacific region? We all know that currently the PLA tools are fully engaged in rescue operations in Sichuan after the Sichuan earthquake. And we also know from the briefing just now that this year, there will be an HADR exercise and an anti-piracy exercise between the two militaries. So my question is, how can the two militaries have sound interaction in the Asia-Pacific region? And I would like to ask General Fang to answer that question.
GEN. FANG: Thank you for the question. Actually, General Dempsey’s visit to China is a very good example of how this sound interaction between our two militaries in the Asia-Pacific region could be – (inaudible) – and also his visit here has brought us opportunities to further develop these military-to-military relationships.
Just now General Dempsey expressed his condolences for the lives lost during the Sichuan earthquake and the Boston explosions, and I would like to thank him for his condolences. And also, General Dempsey has sent his compliments on the PLA troops’ rapid reaction after the earthquake.
China is firmly opposed to terrorist activities. And here, I also want to send our condolences to the fallen lives during the explosion in Boston, and also to their families.
The sound interaction between the two militaries in the Asia-Pacific region is very important because it concerns the overall development of our mil-to-mil relationship. It also matters peace and stability in this area.
The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic area and has got potential, so it is a responsibility and obligation for the two militaries to main peace and stability here.
Actually, I believe there are four areas where we can do together. First is to endorse that idea of win-win cooperation. The Asia-Pacific region should be a platform for China-U.S. cooperation. Both China and the United States are located in this area and the Pacific Ocean is wide enough to accommodate us both. We should be cooperating partners regardless of the circumstances.
Second, to reflect each other’s core interests, we respect the legitimate right and interest of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and we are glad to see a constructive role by the United States in the regional affairs. It is important for China and the United States to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and to avoid [regional] competition, friction or even confrontations in these areas.
Third, to actively advance cooperation in the security talks, the two militaries can continue to deepen practical cooperation in counterterrorism, antipiracy – (inaudible) – humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, logistics and military medicine. When they try and broaden the scope of cooperation and enrich the content of cooperation to build a positive energy for this huge, new type of military-to-military relationship between our two countries.
Fourth, to respond to potential crises in the Asia-Pacific region: Both China and the United States are important countries in the Asia-Pacific region, hence we should enhance communications, coordination and cooperation to appropriately handle the hot spot issues here and respond to potential crises, so as to play a constructive role to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
So that’s my answer to the question.
COL DAVE LAPAN : The next question here is to Bob Woodruff of ABC News.
Q: (In English:) General Fang – [makes brief statement in Chinese]. (In English:) one of our great concerns right now is the grand—growing danger in North Korea. There are now beliefs that there are a greater ability and capability for North Korea to actually put nuclear bombs in the tip of ballistic missiles. Do you have more concern about the danger of North Korea? And if so, are you stepping up your influence over that country to try to keep it more stable?
A: China has always maintained that the Korean Peninsula should be a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. And we are firmly opposed to the nuclear test conducting by DPRK. We support the U.N. Security Council in appropriate and reasonable sanctions against North Korea. Again, China is firmly opposed to the nuclear test conducted by that country.
DPRK has already conducting the third nuclear test, and there is a possibility that a fourth one will go on. I find the Chinese side is concerned. We ask both sides to work actively to work on [North Korea] to stop the nuclear test and to stop producing nuclear weapons.
A nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is in the interest of all related parties. It will also serve its own good. And China has been working actively to – with other countries on all sides so that both sides remain constrained and restrained. We believe that dialogue should be the right solution out of this issue and that peaceful dialogue such as the six-party talks.
China is also working actively to communicate with all related parties for an appropriate solution of the DPRK nuclear issue. At present, I still believe the best choice is through six-party talks.
And second, we’ve been working on all sides to resolve the issue. And third, China has been following the U.S. Security Council resolutions and to do what we need to do in that direction to ensure that no major crisis happens on the peninsula and to ensure stability on the peninsula. I believe that is in all interests.
And this is what I have to say to your question.
MR. : Now to Jane Purlez from The New York Times.
Q: General Fang, thank you for taking my question. General Obama – excuse me – President Obama, when he spoke with President Xi Jinping to congratulate him on his taking of office in March, brought up the subject of cybersecurity. And American officials have made statements saying that the Chinese army has been involved in hacking into American businesses in order to undermine them.
Will you, as chief of the general staff, be prepared personally or to delegate your very senior people to participate in talks that set global rules for cybersecurity?
Thank you very much.
GEN. FANG: Actually, I believe – (inaudible) – many media wants to know the answer to your question. Cybersecurity actually is getting increasing attention from many countries, in particular the big cyber countries, because on the one hand, the use of Internet will make our life much more convenient; however, at the same time, if it is not managed well, it may bring damaging consequences. Because as the Internet is increasingly used, as the Internet is getting access into more and more important terminals, if the security of the Internet cannot be guaranteed, then I may not – I cannot exaggerate the importance of the Internet. The damaging consequences being caused may not—may be as serious as a nuclear bomb.
Actually, China itself is suffering from cyberattacks. So China is a big victim of cyberattacks. And from our own experience, we know how important it is to ensure cybersecurity, and we are strongly against any kind of cyberattacks.
Just now General Dempsey mentioned cyberdisruption and distraction. None of these activities is tolerated here in China.
Actually, during the meeting just now, General Dempsey and I have already talked about the importance of maintaining cybersecurity. And I believe that it is important for us to secondly adhere that we should jointly work on this issue and set up mechanisms to enhance coordination and communication on cybersecurity.
And it is also important for us to manage our respective peoples from launching cyberattacks, but I know how difficult it is, because the Internet is open to everyone, and he can launch the attack from anywhere, from the place where he lives, from his own country or from other countries. But still I do believe that if we work closely together, we can do something.
Q: (Inaudible.) General Dempsey, thank you for taking my question.
General Dempsey, I’m from CCTV. And now you talked about a mil-mil relationship. We know it is having a good momentum of development. However, there is still this on-off – off-again – on-again, off-again circle in mil-mil relationship between the two militaries, and I think this is really because there are three obstacles in China-U.S. mil-mil relationship. That is the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, your reconnaissance by military ships and aircraft, and also the discriminatory laws against China.
So my question is, what do you think the United States can do to improve the China-U.S. mil-mil relationship?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, first of all, for just a moment there, I thought that the general was going to be the perfect host and take all four questions. (Laughter.)
We talked about all three of those issues and another four or five beyond that. And maybe isn’t that the point? It’s the first time we’ve spoken, the two of us, about these issues. And so, in part, the answer to your question is we’ve had frequent tactical contact, and now it is – it’s our desire, both of us, that we maintain dialogue at the strategic level.
I think what you should take away from my response to your question is that we are committed to building a better, deeper, more enduring relationship, but importantly, in the context of some of our – talking about the United States now – other historic and enduring alliances. So, this isn’t about choosing any one or the other when we do have some treaty obligations. But we will build this relationship by increasing our contact at the strategic level and recognizing the context of the historic alliances that the United States has in the region. And there will be points where that creates friction, and we’ll have to work through this.
Q: I’m with China Radio International. And my question is directed to General Dempsey. We all know about your rebalanced strategy during the past years and you’ve been saying repeatedly that a – (inaudible) – without a strategy is not pointed at China. However, we cannot help but noticing the frequent joint military exercises in the vicinity of China. So I’d like to know – I’d like to know your response on that; how do you comment that?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, first, thanks for asking that question because it’s probably at the core of why I’ve made this visit.
You know, the United States is a Pacific power and has been. This isn’t about having disappeared and now we’re going to reappear. We have been particularly active and busy in the Middle East, and to some extent that’s why our – there may have been a reduced presence here. But we have been, and will continue to be a Pacific power.
And our intention, of course, is to contribute to stability in a way that protects our national interests, which are very much tied to this region – certainly economically, but also demographic shifts and security issues, all of which require, it seems to us, for us to be part of the solution. One of the things I talked about today with the general is that we seek to be a stabilizing influence in the region. And in fact, we believe that it would be our absence that would be destabilizing, not our presence.
And it’s not about – final point I want to make is it’s not necessarily about the quantity of actions, it’s – I would describe it as, in our view, three mores: We’re more interested, we’re more engaged – my presence here should be an indication of that – and we’re putting more of our quality people and equipment – but not more – it’s not about an increase in activity or an increase in numbers, but rather an increase in interest, after a decade where we – where we probably haven’t been interested enough. And I – and I think the general and I had a very candid conversation about the perceptions to be overcome. But we’re committed to overcoming them.
MS. : And that concludes today’s press conference. Thank you, General. And thank you for coming.