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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang's Regular Press Conference on March 12, 2014

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang held a press conference on March 12, 2014.

Qin Gang: Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry for being a little bit late. My colleagues and I have been busy contacting departments concerned so that I can offer you more latest news about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. Now I am ready to take your questions.

Q: Anything new about China's efforts in dealing with the incident of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight?

A: The latest developments are as follows:

With regard to the search and rescue operation, all the eight Chinese vessels that I mentioned yesterday have arrived at the relevant waters. They are working round the clock for search and rescue. We have also deployed aircrafts to search over the sea. In accordance with the latest developments, we decide to adjust and optimize the search plan and expand the search. We have been searching above and beneath the sea. Some other countries have joined us one after another in the operation. China has asked the Malaysian side to coordinate rescue forces from various countries.

Back in Beijing, the Malaysian Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China Ong Ka Ting arrived in Beijing yesterday. Special Envoy Ong Ka Ting was assigned by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to help Malaysia Airlines deal with relevant issues. Vice Chinese Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng met with him. Vice Foreign Minister Xie underscored once again that the Chinese government, people and families of the passengers in particular are extremely concerned and anxious about the safety of passengers on board the missing plane, urging the Malaysian side to do everything possible and make every effort, step up and speed up search and rescue and not to give up as long as there is a glimmer of hope. Vice Foreign Minister Xie also said that China hopes that the Malaysian side will properly receive, accommodate and pacify families of the passengers and release information in a timely and accurate fashion. Special Envoy Ong Ka Ting is sincere. He expressed his deep grief and extended profound sympathy to families of the Chinese passengers on behalf of the Malaysian government. He said that the Malaysian side will do all it can to search the missing plane and console families of the passengers. The Malaysian Ambassador to China also met with families of the passengers this morning to talk with them and learn about their appeals.

In Malaysia, the joint working group of the Chinese government is working without a stop. They met with officials of Malaysia Airlines at the emergency operation center of Malaysia yesterday, calling on the Malaysian side to speed up search efforts, properly deal with issues concerning families of the passengers and release authoritative information in a timely and accurate fashion. They also had a three-hour face-to-face meeting with Chinese passengers' families that had arrived in Malaysia to learn about their requests. This morning, the joint working group also attended a multi-department meeting in Malaysia, once again urging the Malaysian side to speed up search and rescue, press ahead with investigation and make proper arrangements for families of the Chinese passengers. They also presented a list of requests from the Chinese passengers' families, calling for a serious and positive response from the Malaysian side. On top of that, the working group also received the second group of Chinese passengers' families at the airport of Kuala Lumpur this morning.

That is all the latest information that I have at the moment. The joint working group in Malaysia has also opened a Sina microblog account to release authoritative information to the public. You may follow the update on the microblog.

Q: The head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China said that China will also be searching over land for the missing aircraft. Please give us more details. Which land mass will be searched then? Separately, it is said that the Malaysian aircraft may have flown back into the airspace above the Strait of Malacca. Can you confirm that?

A: On your first question, I also noted relevant report this morning. We have contacted the relevant Chinese authorities for verification. Based on what I have learnt, the report about Chinese aircrafts carrying out search over land is false. They are searching over the sea. Therefore the report is inaccurate. I hereby clarify that.

On your second question, we noted the report as well as Malaysia's follow-up denial. There are all kinds of information out there, which is confusing and difficult to verify. But as we have said we will never give up as long as there is a shred of hope. We urge the Malaysian side not to let slide any clue nor give up even the slightest hope and step up search efforts. That is why China adjusts and optimizes its search plan in accordance with the developments of the situation and the latest information and expand the search over the sea.

Q: China has been urging the Malaysian side to step up efforts. Some of the Chinese passengers' families are dissatisfied with the Malaysian side. Does the Chinese government share the dissatisfaction?

A: We believe that the Malaysian side attaches high importance to the incident and takes the incident seriously. But the whereabout of the aircraft is still a mystery and the cause of the incident unknown. Families of the passengers are in great anxiety. The Chinese government and people are highly concerned and worried. That is why we have been repeatedly asking and urging the Malaysian side to do its best, employ every possible means for search, rescue and investigation and give a satisfactory answer to families of the passengers and the international community at an early date.

Q: You have been urging the Malaysian side to devote greater efforts to search and rescue. Does it suggest that the Chinese government is increasingly disappointed with the response of the Malaysian side?

A: What we are facing now is that the whereabout of the aircraft is still unclear and the cause of the incident unknown. Therefore, not only the Chinese government but also the whole international community is highly concerned and worried. The most pressing task now is still search and rescue. We are all praying that the missing plan and the cause of the incident could be found out as soon as possible.

Q: A statement released by the Philippine Foreign Ministry on March 11 said that they summoned the Chinese charge d'affaires to explain why two Philippine ships had been sent to the Ren'ai Reef and protest against China Coast Guard vessels' "obstruction". It also said that "China's actions constitute a clear and urgent threat" and urged China to "desist from any further interference with the efforts of the Philippines to undertake rotation and resupply operations". What is China's comment?

A: China has been telling what is true about the Ren'ai Reef and expounded on its position. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has made solemn representations to the leading official of the Philippine Embassy in China about the Philippines' attempt to carry out construction work on the Ren'ai Reef. The Philippines is making unfounded countercharges by staging the so-called "protest". Their argument, which distorts the fact and confuses right and wrong, lays bare the Philippines' attempt to illegally occupy China's Ren'ai Reef and stir up troubles in the South China Sea. It also shows that the Philippines always goes back on its word. China urges the Philippines to stop all provocative actions, make good on its commitment, tow away the ship grounded on the Ren'ai Reef and take concrete actions to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Q: Countries including China have dispatched ships and aircrafts to waters where the missing plane was last reported to be for search and rescue. What is China's comment?

A: I think that multiple countries' participation in the search and rescue operation reflects that the international community and particularly countries in the region are ready to come together to confront this kind of major and emergent incident. All parties should enhance international cooperation in the principle of humanitarianism in the face of such an incident.

Q: First, will the search of Chinese vessels expand to cover waters to the west of Malaysia? Second, is it the Malaysian side that is coordinating the search and rescue operation on the sea?

A: You may visit the website of China Marine Search and Rescue Center of the Ministry of Transport for specifics concerning the position and scope of search.

On your second question, it is the flight of Malaysia Airlines that has gone missing, the Malaysian side should take major responsibility in dealing with and investigating the incident. But since passengers on board the plane are from different countries, particularly China, the Chinese government makes all-out efforts for search and rescue in the principle of putting people first and governing for the people.

A lot of countries have joined the search and rescue operation in relevant waters. The Malaysian side should assume the responsibility of enhancing communication, coordination and cooperation. China is ready to reinforce communication with the Malaysian side and build up coordination and cooperation with other rescue forces.

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