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Joint Press Conference with Secretary Hagel and Minister Chang in Beijing, China

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan
April 08, 2014

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here. General Chang and Secretary Hagel have just completed their talks and it is our great honor to have them with us and to take your questions. First of all, I would like to give the floor to General Chang.

MINISTER OF DEFENSE CHANG WANQUAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Dear friends from press, upon my invitation, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is visiting China from April the 4th through the 10th. This is the reciprocal arrangement to my visit to the U.S. last August. It is also Secretary Hagel's first visit to China since he took office. The Chinese side takes Secretary Hagel's visit seriously and have made a thoughtful preparation and arrangements.

First, high-level meeting is arranged in his program. Second, we arranged a visit to the carrier for Secretary Hagel, making him the first foreign military leader to be onboard of Chinese aircraft carrier. Third, on Secretary Hagel's request, we will arrange a visit to the non-commissioned officers’ school where Secretary Hagel will talk with the students, face to face, have lunch together and relieve his moments as an NCO.

Here he will have reached a colorful schedule with those NCO students. Just now, Secretary Hagel and I had a small scale and large scale discussions. The two sides exchanged ideas on state-to-state and military-to-military relations. International and regional issues, and the topics of common interest, in a candid, friendly and a constructive environment.

Together we have made a positive achievement and important consensus.

First, both sides agreed to seriously implement the important consensus reached between President Xi Jinping and President Obama on developing China-U.S. state-to-state and military-to-military relations, and work together to push forward the sound and the state of development of the new model of China-U.S. military-to-military relationship.

Second, both sides agreed to positively advance the process of establishing a military notification mechanism of major military activities and to the standards of behavior for air and sea military safety on high seas, in an effort to make substantive progress at an early stage.

Third, both sides positively evaluate the good momentum of current development of China-U.S. mil-to-mil relations. Both sides agree to further strengthen exchanges and constantly expand areas for practical cooperation.

Both sides agree to establish an institutional army-to-army dialogue for exchanges and cooperation and promote the army-to-army cooperation in an orderly way.

Fourth, both sides believe that international terrorism is the common challenge to peace and stability in the region and globally. Both sides discussed related cooperation in the area of counterterrorism.

Fifth, both sides affirm to further strengthen cooperation on international and regional issues in order to achieve positive interaction in Asia-Pacific region, working together to maintain peace and stability in Asia-Pacific region.

Sixth, both sides agree to convene, within this year, an Asia-Pacific security dialogue to further exchange ideas on military-to-military relations and issues of common interest.

Seventh, both sides agreed to conduct land-based joint medical cooperative exercise after Rim Pacific 2014. We look forward to a successful visit by Secretary Hagel through joint efforts from both sides.

And I stand ready to work with Secretary Hagel on the basis of the consensus between the two sides to steadily promote the development of the new model of China-U.S. military-to-military relations. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you General Chang. Now the floor turns to Secretary Hagel. Secretary, please.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Thank you. General Chang, thank you. And thank you for extending this invitation to visit to China. I know how much effort and hard work has gone into organizing my trip and I am very grateful to you and to all the leaders assembled here and to all of your colleagues in the government.

General Chang, as you know, I first came to China in January of 1984 and have been here a number of times since then. But this, as has been noted, is my first trip as Secretary of Defense. As General Chang noted, we've just finished a morning of very good straightforward, productive positive meetings where I restated that the United States is committed to continuing to build the constructive and productive relationship with China.

U.S.-China relationship is important for stability and security in the Asia Pacific and for achieving prosperity for both our nations in the 21st century. And as President Obama has said, the United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous China.

One focus of our discussion to day was how we develop a new model of military-to-military relations, which I will address in greater detail in a speech that I'll give this afternoon.

I explained that the U.S. believes its approach should be to build a sustained and substantive dialogue to deepen practical cooperation in areas of common interests and to manage competition and manage differences through openness and communication.

In each of these areas there is much work still to be done, but we're making progress, strong progress.

And, as General Chang noted, yesterday I very much appreciated the opportunity to tour China's aircraft carrier and particularly to meet PLA personnel aboard the ship and have an opportunity to listen to these young sailors.

And later today I'll have the opportunity to speak to officers at the National Defense University.

And, as General Chang noted, tomorrow I truly am looking forward to visiting with noncommissioned officers, which, I think we all appreciate, are the backbone of our militaries.

Exchanges like this at every level of command are critical. They're critical for building mutual understanding and also respect.

Our vision is a future where our militaries can work closely together on a range of challenges, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

However, to reach this objective we must be very candid about issues where we disagree, while also continuing to deepen our cooperation in areas where we do agree.

And we have many common interests and we agree on many things. Regarding cybersecurity, I emphasized in our meetings this morning the need for both the United States and China to be more open with each other about our capabilities and our intentions in this critically important domain. Greater openness about cyber reduces the risks that misunderstanding and misperception could lead to miscalculation. More transparency will strengthen China-U.S. relations.

As General Chang announced, we agreed today on several new ways to improve our military-to-military relationship. We will establish an army-to-army dialogue mechanism as an institutionalized mechanism within the overall framework of the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship. We agree to participate in a joint military medical cooperative activity. And this will build on the experiences gained at the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercise, a U.S-hosted, multilateral naval exercise that China will participate in for the first time this summer.

We'll establish an Asia-Pacific security dialog to exchange views on a host of security issues. This dialog will build on the discussions General Chang and I had today on regional security issues, including North Korea, and the growing threat posed by its nuclear and missile programs.

Continued instability on Northeast Asia is not in China's interests, it's not in the U.S. interests, it's not in the region's interests. And the U.S. is deeply concerned about the threat North Korea poses to our treaty allies and increasingly to our own homeland.

The United States and China have a shared interest in achieving a verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

We also had a very good, direct, positive discussion about tensions in the East and South China Sea.

I underscored that all parties should refrain from provocative actions and the use of intimidation, coercion or aggression to advance their claims.

Such disputes must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.

I thanked General Chang and his leaders again for their generous invitation to visit China, and for their leadership and their partnership in working with the United States on many of these common interests, especially as we move forward on a new model for our military-to-military relationship.

I look forward to more progress in the future because the China-U.S. relationship is essential, essential to peace and security in the 21st century.

Let me also, as I end my comments and prepare with General Chang to take questions to acknowledge the U.S. ambassador to China, Max Baucus, who has been with me during my time here. And I appreciate that, but very much appreciate his leadership and the efforts that he is making here to continue to strengthen and deepen the China-U.S. relationship.

Thank you, Ambassador Baucus.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Now the floor is open for questions. Please first identify yourself before you raise your question.

Q: I'm with the CRI, and my question is for General Chang.

In recent days, certain complicated factors arise in the situation surrounding China, in particular Japan and the Philippines are stirring up troubles and violating China's rights. General Chang, what do you think of this situation?

MIN. CHANG (through translator): I say the press friends are quite interested in this topic, and we have discussed this topic in both large-scale and small-scale meeting with Secretary Hagel.

Indeed, there is someone trying to stirring up troubles in the surrounding situations -- surrounding China. I'd like to make clear several points on this issue.

First, since Abe administration made a series of wrong remarks indeed- since he took office, causing severe difficulties -- and imposing severe impacts on regional peace and stability, causing severe difficulty in China-Japan relations.

Japan takes reversed course of history and confronts the right with the wrong. Moreover, Japan insists on hotline and is provocative all the time, leading the tension of the situation.

Thirdly, the rights of political -- (inaudible) -- is quite worrisome. This is what should arouse the international community's high attention and vigilance.

Furthermore, Japan still has huge amount of nuclear material, which exceeds its practical needs. The international community should also be alarmed against this.

Second, disguising itself as a victim, the Philippines repeatedly breaks the promise they made. They even submitted the memorial to the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea disputes between China and the Philippines in the name of the international law.

I think they did the math in the wrong way. The fact is that it is the Philippines who illegally occupy part of China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

China has made it clear on several occasions that it does not accept and will not participate in the international arbitration initiated the Philippines.

Third, China's position on South China Sea and East China Sea issue is clear and consistent. China has indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands, Nansha Islands, and their adjacent waters.

As to sovereignty dispute over islands and reefs, and the sea boater delimitation issue, China stands ready to resolve the issue through negotiation with the countries directly involved.

Fourth, I will actually reiterate that territorial sovereignty issue is China's core interest. On this issue, we will make no compromise, no concession, no trading, not even a tiny bit of violation is allowed.

Fifth, it is the Chinese military's mission to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and the territorial integrity. We are prepared at any time to cope with all kinds of threats and challenges. Upon the request of the party and the people, the Chinese military can assemble as soon summoned, fight immediately upon arrival and win any battle, as long as they fight. Thank you.

MODERATOR: First question from the American delegation will be (inaudible) from Reuters.

Q: Thank you. For Secretary Hagel, were you assured during your talks with your Chinese counterparts that China has no intentions of creating a air defense zone in the South China Sea? And can I get your thoughts on what was just said about the territorial disputes there? And for Mr. Chang, has a senior U.S. Naval intelligence officer has said he believes that after preserving China's mission action 2013, military exercises, that the PLA was training its forces to be capable of carrying out a sharp war with Japan in the East China Sea. Is this correct and, if so, how seriously do you take U.S. assurances that it would come to Japan's defense if a dispute moved to conflict? Thank you.

SEC. HAGEL: Let me begin with the ADIZ question. The United States has been very clear on this issue and that is that first, every nation has a right to establish air defense zones, but not a right to do it unilaterally with no collaboration, no consultation. That adds to tensions, misunderstandings, and could eventually add to and eventually get to dangerous conflict.

On the issue of the disputes in the East and South China Sea, again, the United States has been very clear on this -- our position in this situation. And we did talk about this in the meetings this morning.

The United States takes no position on individual claims. The United States has been very clear, direct and firm on how these disputes should be resolved.

They should be resolved diplomatically, peacefully, through international law.

Specifically on the Philippines and Japan, the Philippines and Japan are long-time allies of the United States. We have mutual self-defense treaties with each of those two countries. And we are fully committed to those treaty obligations.

Thank you.

MIN. CHANG (through translator): As far as I know the peace mission exercise, maritime exercise conducted by the PLA is not directed against any country or region. So this is only a presupposition. So your question does not exist.

Actually, on this issue I do have several points to make. It is Japan who has been making provocative against China, and China has been exercising restraint to the maximum.

If you came to the conclusion that China is going to resort to force against Japan, that is wrong.

I would like to reiterate to that, on our Chinese side, we will not take the initiative to stir up troubles. Second, we are not afraid of any provocation.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Second question will come from Gopol Ratnam from Bloomberg.

Q: The first question to Secretary Hagel.

Yesterday, you toured China's first aircraft carrier. And, given what the minister's comments just now, how soon do you think China will be in a position, given its modernization -- military modernization, to challenge U.S. supremacy in the region?

And, for the minister, do you see the U.S. rebalance strategy as a threat, or is it a helpful move?

And also, if I might ask you, are you prepared to share your cyber-security doctrine with the United States, as the U.S. is asking you to?

Thank you.

SEC. HAGEL: As to your question, I would answer it this way: The new model, where military-to-military between our two countries gives us a unique and new opportunity to better understand each other, better understand our intentions, better understand how we intend, each of us, to use our power.

As I quoted in my comments, President Obama's statement about America's strong support of China rising to a strong global, peaceful, prosperous and responsible power, we do support that. We want that. And we will continue to work closely with the Chinese military on their capabilities, our capabilities, where we can work together.

Thank you.

MIN. CHANG (through translator): It's quite a coincidence, during my visit with the U.S. last August, I was also asked a question concerning the U.S. rebalancing strategy in Asia Pacific. Today, it came up again.

I would like to reiterate my position.

Both China and the U.S. are important countries in Asia-Pacific region. And the U.S. is a country of worldwide influence. I think the Pacific Ocean is huge enough to hold both China and the U.S. for common development, and also huge enough to hold the other Asian-Pacific countries.

Second, China-U.S. relations is by no means the relations between China -- between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, nor is it relation of coercion and anti-coercion. With the latest development in China, it can never be contained.

Third, the two sides are positively building the new model of major country relations featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, according to the consensus reached between the two heads of state.

This new model of major country relationship should take shape firstly in the Asia-Pacific region. The common interests of China and U.S. in the Asia-Pacific outweigh their differences. We respect the U.S. presence and influence in Asia-Pacific region.

We hope that the U.S. rebalancing strategy is helpful for safeguarding the regional peace and stability. And we also hope that the U.S. side can respect China's interests and concerns in a dear way.

During my discussion with Secretary Hagel, we agree that we should strengthen communication and coordination and try to manage the crises and the risks, and work together with the regional countries to safeguard the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cyberspace issue is also a topic of common interest. We talked about this issue both in small-scale discussion as well as the larger scale discussion.

I'd like to make clear three points on this issue. First, cyberspace is faced with severe security threats and challenge. All the countries in the world should make good use of the cyberspace and protect it. On cyberspace, China adheres to the principle of peace, security, openness, and cooperation.

The defense activity of the PLA in cyberspace abides by the domestic law and the universally recognized law. It will not pose a threat to others.

Third, the two militaries maintained in contact on this issue. Both China and the U.S. have extensive common interests in cyberspace, and the two militaries have conducted productive and candid dialog on this issue.

Both sides should earnestly implement the important consensus between the two heads of state and strengthen communication under the framework of strategic security dialog, prevent any military highly risky activity or miscalculation.

The Chinese side takes note of Secretary Hagel's statement that the U.S. does not seek the militarization of cyberspace. It is quite important to maintain the peaceful nature of the cyberspace, and the Chinese side stands ready to deepen the communication with the U.S. side and together, to transfer this vision into policy and concrete actions.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Now the last question, Sohoyu Venki.

Q (through translator): I'm with CCTV.

We learned that this morning at Beijing local time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the confirmation about importance of Taiwan Relations Act, and the view of naval vessels transferred to Taiwan.

My question is for Secretary Hagel. What influence will such actions have on your visit here? And additional -- in addition, we noticed that during your visit in Japan, you expressed that Diaoyu islands fall under the U.S.-Japan security treaty and the United States welcomes Japan to loosen the limit on the right of collective self-defense.

We believe such actions do not fit in the atmosphere of Secretary Hagel's visit here. My question is both for -- for both Secretary Hagel and Secretary -- and General Chang. What's your comment on the current China-U.S. mil-to-mil relationship and its development in the future?

SEC. HAGEL: The question, what is the current relationship between our two militaries in the future?

SEC. HAGEL: Well, let me begin with the last part of your question. I think it's pretty clear, what I've said this morning, what General Chang has said this morning, about we both agree and we're working on this, to establish a new model military-to-military working relationship.

As you all know, this came out of conversations that President Xi and President Obama had. So, we are going to work together. We laid out, I believe, General Chang, eight specific areas where we are going to go forward and cooperate. There will be more.

As to your question on Taiwan, you know that the United States has had a one-China policy since 1979 based on three communiques. That has not changed. It's still the same.

The relationship we have with Taiwan in selling arms to Taiwan are self-defense armaments. Nothing has changed since 1979. We still have the same policy that we've been committed to since that time.

On Japan, Japan is a sovereign nation. It's a democracy. It will review its constitution and make its own decisions. As a democracy does and should, has the right to do.

We think the review of that self-defense aspect of their constitution is right. It's important. All great powers -- Japan is a great power, as is China, as is the United States, have responsibilities. They have responsibilities to, yes, assure their own security, but also to play a bigger role in their regions and the world, in a responsible way.

So, yes, we support that review. But that's a decision the Japanese people will make.

MIN. CHANG (through translator): As I stated during my discussion with Secretary Hagel, the Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction with and a strong objection against the acts passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The U.S. arms sales to Taiwan is in serious violation of the three U.S.-China joint communiques, especially the principles of the August the 17th communique, which is a severe intervention into China's domestic affairs.

We urge the U.S. Congress to stop advancing the approval of such an acts relating to Taiwan, and we urge the U.S. authority to take concrete measures to prevent the congressional approval of this -- of this act, not to undermine China-U.S. relations or interfere in the peaceful development of cross-straits relations.

At present, China and Japan relations is confronted with severe difficulties and Japan should take full responsibility. We hope that the U.S. could stay vigilant against Japan's action and keep it within bounds and not to be permissive and supportive.

As we know, President Xi pointed out the connotation of this new model of major country relations is no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. The point is in the globalization where our nations interests are increasingly integrated. The competition between China and the U.S. is not a zero-sum game.

The two sides should not repeat the old path of conflict between major powers in history. Instead, the two sides should review the bilateral relations from a new perspective and in a new way of thinking and work to open up a cooperative situation with win-win results.

I think no conflict and no confrontation between China and U.S. means firstly there is no military conflict nor military confrontation. Secretary Hagel and I are both old soldiers who fought on the battlefields. We have a deep understanding about the atrocity of the war. As the defense leaders, it is our responsibility to make concrete reach out work, ensuring no conflict, and no confrontation.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: That concludes today's press briefing. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, thank you, minister. Thank you everybody.

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