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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 25, 2014

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on March 25, 2014.

Hong Lei updated the press on China's search efforts for the missing Malaysian plane:

Last night, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight had ended in the southern Indian Ocean. Vice Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng summoned the Malaysian Ambassador to China for an urgent meeting, and the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson made remarks on this announcement to express concerns. We hope that the Malaysian side can provide all the information and evidence that leads up to their conclusion and continue the search. We hope that the Malaysian side will keep coordinating international efforts to carry out search operations in relevant waters.

At present, China is still making all-out efforts to search relevant waters. After days of sailing, the Chinese vessels will arrive one after another at the waters where floating objects possibly related to the missing airplane were found. Zhonghai Shaohua has entered and started to search the suspected sea area identified by the French satellites. Xuelong has arrived this morning at the sea area where the Chinese Air Force plane spotted white floating objects. Today, Chinese naval vessels Kunlunshan, Haikou and Qiandaohu will also reach the waters where suspected debris was sighted by the French side. Haixun 01 and South China Sea Rescue 101 are approaching relevant waters. Two IL-76 transport planes of the Chinese Air Force have flown two search sorties on March 24. We will enhance the coordination of air and sea search to ensure the efficiency of our search operations.

Besides, China Marine Search and Rescue Center (CMSRC) has mobilized eight commercial vessels passing by to assist the search in the Bay of Bengal and waters to the west of Indonesia and Australia. The search area covers 15,380 square kilometers. The CMSRC has been working with the Bureau of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture to assemble 20 fishing boats that are working in the central Indian Ocean to assist the search efforts.

We believe that the top priority for now is still searching. We will keep doing our best to push forward relevant work.

Q: After the Malaysian government announced that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight had ended in the southern Indian Ocean, has the Chinese side sought relevant information from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the Inmarsat?

A: The search and rescue operation is carried out with international cooperation. China hopes that relevant international institutions and countries can provide valuable leads and information to us and the Malaysian side as well, so that our search can be more targeted.

Q: Did the Malaysian side inform China before it announced that the missing flight had ended in the southern Indian Ocean? Is China satisfied with the explanation given by the Malaysian side? Has China got the evidence that supports the conclusion of the Malaysian side? Is this the time to begin discussing compensation?

A: As I have just said, we pay high attention to the conclusion announced by the Malaysian side. We have called on the Malaysian side to provide concrete evidence and relevant information at the earliest time.

We believe that at present the top priority is still searching. We will devote all our energies to searching. We call on the Malaysian side to coordinate international search efforts, carry out search operations in relevant waters, and provide comprehensive, precise and valuable information and leads in a timely manner so as to make the search more efficient and targeted.

As for the other issues, the Chinese government has sent staff to the Lido Hotel and other hotels where relatives of the Chinese passengers are staying to provide whatever support they need, including legal assistance. The Chinese government will without any doubt fulfill its responsibility in this regard.

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