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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 21, 2014


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on March 21, 2014.

Hong Lei updated the press on China's search efforts over the past day for the missing Malaysian plane.

Hong Lei said that last night, after the Australian side found objects possibly related to the missing Malaysian plane in the southern Indian Ocean and started the search operation, Chinese President Xi Jinping held telephone talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

President Xi said that the disappearance of the Malaysian plane is a very tragic incident, and we are deeply concerned about the life and safety of all people aboard. We appreciate the search and rescue efforts the Australian side has made in the southern track. The current search and rescue work faces difficulties due to the complexity of relevant waters. But as long as there remains a gleam of hope, we will make one hundred percent efforts. We hope that the Australian side and relevant parties can continue to make all-out efforts to search and rescue and inform China without any delay. We also hope that the Australian side can assist China in search and rescue. China is willing to communicate and cooperate closely with the Australian side. In times of difficulty like this, the sincere cooperation between China and Australia demonstrates the solidarity of people from both countries.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Australia will continue to do everything they can to search, rescue and investigate, and stands ready to fully cooperate with China, keep in close touch and share relevant information with China in a timely fashion.

The Ministry of Transport further improved follow-up search and rescue plans. The Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center (CMSRC) directed Haixun 01 and South China Sea Rescue 101 to continue sailing towards China's southern search area to the south of the Christmas Island as scheduled and gradually approach the waters where debris possibly related to the missing plane were found. Haixun 31 and South China Sea Rescue 115 turn around and move towards China's southern search area, carrying out a north-to-south search mission. Naval vessels Kunlunshan, Haikou and Qiandaohu have headed for waters in the southern Indian Ocean where debris possibly related to the missing plane were found.

The State Oceanic Administration has sent the scientific research vessel Xuelong which was on standby and waiting to be supplied in Perth, Australia to go to possible waters for search.

The CMSRC will continue to coordinate Chinese merchant ships and deep sea fishing ships to engage in search.

Two IL-76 and one Y-8 air freighters have set off from Sanya, Hainan this morning to an airforce base in Malaysia, where they will leave for Australia to carry out new search mission in relevant waters.

At the request of the Malaysian side, relevant departments in China have made great efforts to check and analyze satellite and radar data collected in the Chinese territory covered by the northern corridor where the missing plane might have flown over. After days of intense work, it was corroborated on March 20 that the missing Malaysian plane did not enter the Chinese territory. To advance search and rescue, relevant departments in China have provided remote sensing data from satellites to the Malaysian side on March 20.

On March 20, entrusted by the State Council, officials from the General Office of the State Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration and the Beijing Municipal government visited families of the Chinese passengers on board the missing plane in Beijing and listened attentively to their opinions and suggestions. They also pledged more coordination and cooperation in search and rescue and better service to families of the passengers aboard.

The search operation of the missing Malaysian plane is unprecedented in the world aviation history in terms of scope, difficulty, involvement and input of all countries as well as the amount of information collected. We sympathize with families of the passengers aboard and our hearts go out to them. As long as there is a gleam of hope, we will continue to work on that.

Q: First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has kicked off her visit to China. Please give us more details.

A: This morning, Madame Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping and US First Lady Michelle Obama visited the No.2 Middle School attached to Beijing Normal University and the Forbidden City. We believe that the visit will give Madame Michelle a better understanding of the education, the youth as well as the venerable and splendid culture of China. Madame Michelle will take part in a series of activities in China. We will release the information in due course.

Q: Has the Australian side agreed to coordinate with Chinese vessels heading for the southern Indian Ocean for search? And has the Australian side allowed Chinese vessels to anchor in Australia?

A: China and Australia are in close communication and coordination in searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. China has gained support and coordination from the Australian side to send Chinese military aircrafts and vessels to relevant waters

Q: Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Joint OPCW-UN Mission reportedly announced on March 20 that over half of the raw materials for chemical weapons in Syria had been removed or eliminated. The Joint Mission welcomed this good momentum and encouraged the Syrian government to keep going at the current pace. How does China view the progress of the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons?

A: The transportation and destruction of Syrian chemical weapons have gained speed, and up to now, maritime transportation and escort of 10 batches of Syrian chemical weapons have been completed. China welcomes this move and appreciates efforts made by relevant parties. We will continue to closely communicate and coordinate with all parties and play a positive role in ensuring the safe and smooth transportation and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.

Q: On March 20, the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the report of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review on China. What is China's comment?

A: On March 20, the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the report of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review on China. It made positive comments on China's progress in the field of human rights, appreciated China's open, confident and sincere attitude in the review, welcomed China's serious feedback and adoption of most of the recommendations made by other countries last October and decided to adopt the report on China. Going forward, China will continue to actively promote and safeguard human rights in keeping with its national conditions, get deeply involved in international human rights cooperation and make new contributions to international human rights endeavor.

Q: The US and the EU announced to impose sanctions on Russia. What is China's comment?

A: We have elaborated on our principled position on the issue of Crimea. Under the current circumstances, we call on all parties to keep calm, exercise restraint, push for political settlement of the issue through dialogue and negotiation and jointly maintain regional peace and stability.

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