To Promote China-Tonga Military Friendship Cooperation
By Senior Colonel Wang Wei, Defense Attache of Chinese Embassy in Tonga
Nuku’alofa – August 1, 2022: 4pm (PRC Tonga): August 1st 2022 marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army(PLA) of China.
The past 95 years have witnessed indelible achievements made by the people’s military in realizing national independence, liberating the Chinese people, and making the country prosperous and strong.
The PLA is the people’s armed forces founded by the the Communist Party of China(CPC). 6 years after the founding of the CPC, on August 1, 1927, the forerunner of the PLA, led by the CPC, held an uprising in Nanchang city, which marked a milestone that the CPC had established its own military, and for the first time in the history of China founded a military truly belonging to the Chinese people. Under the leadership of the CPC, the PLA fought numerous battles and wars, and through 22 years of arduous struggle defeated enemies from both within and outside the country and founded the People’s Republic of China(PRC) on October 1st, 1949. Since then, the PLA led by the CPC has been the strong pillar of the People’s Republic of China, a great wall of steel in defense and an important force in socialist construction.
Six (6) years ago, China launched the reform plan for the armed forces. It was the most wide-ranging and ambitious restructuring since 1949. Over the past 6 years, great progress has been made in strengthening joint operational capability, optimizing military structure, enhancing policy systems and promoting civilian-military integration. The Chinese military has reshaped the leadership and management system, optimized its scale, structure and forces composition, and reformed its military policies and institutions. Now, the PLA has developed into a combined military of army, navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and joint logistic support force, and remained true to its original aspiration and mission for securing national independence and the people’s liberation, safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests.
The PLA is committed to contributing more Chinese wisdom and strength to safeguarding world peace and tranquility. China adheres to an independent foreign policy of peace and pursues a national defense policy which is defensive in nature. Chinese people have always loved and valued peace. Aggression or hegemony is not in the blood of the Chinese nation. Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, China has never initiated any war or conflict, never occupied a single inch of other country’s territory. China has voluntarily downsized the PLA by more than 4 million troops since 1980.
Since 1990, Chinese armed forces have contributed nearly 50,000 service members to 25 UN peacekeeping missions. China is the second biggest financial contributor of UN peacekeeping budget and the largest troop contributor among Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. At the moment, more than 2,200 Chinese military peacekeepers are serving on 7 UN peacekeeping missions and at UNHQ. Chinese blue helmets have become a key force in UN peacekeeping operations. In the second half of this year, the Chinese military plans to host the “Shared Vision” international peacekeeping forum, where representatives, peacekeeping experts and scholars from the UN and relevant countries will be invited to offer advice and suggestions.
The PLA has dispatched 41 naval task forces to carry out regular vessel protection operations in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia, bringing peace to the once pirate-laden ocean and protecting the sea lines of communication. The PLA has actively participated in international anti-pandemic cooperation and has provided vaccine aid to the militaries of dozens of countries, to implement Chinese President Xi Jinping’s important declaration on making China’s COVID-19 vaccines a global public good. The PLA has also carried out anti-pandemic cooperation with foreign militaries in the form of providing anti-pandemic supplies, sending military medical expert teams, and holding experience-sharing video meetings.
The world has been in turmoil for past years with the combined impact of COVID-19. The flames of war have been reignited in Europe. There is a rising tide of division and confrontation. There is a fierce information war and battle for public opinion. Facing these once-in-a-century changes, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Security Initiative (GSI). The idea is to take the new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security as the guide line, mutual respect as the fundamental requirement, indivisible security as the important principle, and building a security community as the long-term goal, in order to foster a new type of security that replaces confrontation, alliance and a zero-sum approach with dialogue, partnership and win-win results. This initiative offers a fundamental solution to eliminating “the peace deficit” and contributes Chinese perspectives to meeting international security challenges.
Actions are guided by the vision. Based on the idea of building a community with a shared future for mankind and acting on this new security initiative, China will stay as determined as ever to build world peace, contribute to global prosperity and uphold the international order. China has no intention to compete with anyone, let alone vie for geopolitical interests or create a so-called “sphere of influence”.
The China-Tonga relations set a role model of friendly cooperation between the countries of different sizes in the world. China and Tonga have witnessed vigorous development in bilateral relations and have conducted practical cooperation in various fields since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping and His Majesty King Tupou VI, during their telephone audience, reached many consensus on the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, and steer the direction for the further development of China-Tonga bilateral ties. Not long ago, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a successful visit to Tonga, to implement the important consensus between President Xi and His Majesty. During the visit, China and Tonga reached new agreements on deepening bilateral cooperation, dealing with climate change, promoting diversified development, and joining hands in the development of the ocean.
Military ties are an important component of the China-Tonga partnership. The defence cooperation between the two militaries has saw fruitful results in recent years. We have close military exchanges like high ranking officers’ visits and seminars. We sent the PLA martial art instructors to Tonga to conduct personnel training. We have port visits by Chinese navy hospital ship Peace Arc to provide medical service to local Tongans. We sent military aircraft and naval ships with more than 1400 tons of emergency relief items immediately after the volcanic eruption and tsunami early this year, to assist Tonga’s disaster response and rebuilding effort. We are proud to see the first Tongan military doctor, who graduated from Chinese military academy, continued his service in HMAF. We are looking forward to the official opening of the China-aid HMAF Music Center at Taliai Camp, which will become a flagship project symbolizing China-Tonga’s close friendship and cooperation.
The year 2023 will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Tonga and China. China will continue to deliver on its commitments of closer economic and technical cooperation with Tonga. There will be more visible cooperative results between China and Tonga. China is willing to make joint efforts with Tonga side to promote military relationship, keeping it on a healthy and stable development track.