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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 26, 2014


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on March 26, 2014.

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

On March 24, President Xi Jinping made instructions in response to the new developments in the search work, and instantly sent a special envoy of the Chinese government to Malaysia to consult with the Malaysian side, get first-hand information and demand the Malaysian side to properly handle relevant matters. President Xi also instructed relevant departments in China to assist all countries involved, including the Malaysian side, in pushing forward the search work and make proper arrangements in all aspects.

Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, Special Envoy of the Chinese government, arrived in Malaysia on the early morning of March 26. He has visited Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and held talks with Malaysian Defense Minister and acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein. He will also meet with leading officials of Malaysia Airlines.

On March 25, Premier Li Keqiang convened a State Council Executive Meeting and made relevant arrangement in accordance with the latest development of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight. He emphasized during the meeting that we sympathize with families of the Chinese passengers who are going through plight and distress. At present, the top priority is still search and rescue. Relevant departments need to urge the Malaysian side to provide more detailed and accurate information, strictly follow the international conventions, continue to coordinate international efforts to carry on search and rescue with all their strength, and get more Chinese experts deeply engaged in the investigation into the incident. China will continue its all-out efforts in all its search and rescue operations on the frontline, and never will China give up. The State Council General Office needs to enhance its coordination, provide guidance for relevant departments and local authorities, continue to provide families of the Chinese passengers with thoughtful assistance, including medical, psychological and legal assistance. Special care needs to be given to those who are already suffering from health problems so as to ensure they are healthy both physically and mentally. The Chinese government will take concrete measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.

On March 25, leading officials from the State Council General Office, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Administration of China paid a second visit to relatives of the Chinese passengers, informed them of the latest development of the search, listened to their opinions, pledged greater efforts in search and rescue and called on the Malaysian side to take good care of them and provide them with comprehensive and precise information. On the same day, the Inter-Ministerial Mechanism on Protecting the Safety of Overseas Chinese Citizens and Institutions held another meeting to analyze the new situation and make plans for next moves.

With search being the top priority, China, without relenting its efforts, will make clear its search direction, expand search areas, intensify search efforts and push forward its search operations in a comprehensive way. China will continue to search for and retrieve the wreckage and the black box of the missing plane. The search is mainly focused on the sea area in the southern Indian Ocean where Australia spotted floating objects that might be related to the missing plane. Chinese naval vessels Qiandaohu, Haikou and Kunlunshan have reached and started searching relevant waters. Haixun 01, South China Rescue 115 and East China Sea Rescue 101 belonging to the Ministry of Transport are speeding towards the suspected sea area. After searching in the nearby waters where Chinese Air Force planes spotted suspected floating objects, the scientific research vessel Xuelong is sailing towards the suspected waters identified by the Australian side and is expected to arrive this noon. Zhonghai Shaohua, a vessel owned by the China Shipping Group, is also sailing towards the suspected waters identified by the Australian side after searching the sea area where suspected floating objects were spotted by the French satellites, and is expected to arrive this afternoon.

Before the arrival of Chinese vessels, no marine force other than HMAS Success of the Australian Navy is searching in the waters where the Australian side spotted suspected floating objects. Their arrival will give a strong boost to the search at sea, creating a synergy between search efforts in the air and at sea. This will facilitate timely verification and retrieval of suspected objects.

The Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center has informed its Australian counterpart of the deployment of Chinese vessels, asked them to designate search areas for our vessels and coordinate sea and air search. For the reference of the Australian side, we have informed them of the local weather and sea state as provided by the National Marine Environment Forecasting Center, the track of the suspected floating objects and suggested search areas.

At the same time, Haixun 31, South China Sea Rescue 101 of the Ministry of Transport and Jinggangshan, Yongxingdao of the Chinese Naval Force are still searching the eastern part of the southern Indian Ocean. Three vessels of the 17th formation that is on an escort mission off the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden are also searching in that area. The Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center have also mobilized some commercial ships and fishing ships to assist the search.

Q: The Philippines will officially submit its South China Sea dispute with China for international arbitration this weekend. What is China's comment?

A: China will never accept nor participate in the international arbitration unilaterally initiated and pushed by the Philippines, and China's position has a solid basis in international law. China is unswerving in its resolve and determination to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. We hope that the Philippine side can be fully aware of the complexity and sensitivity of the South China Sea issue, return to the right track of resolving the dispute through negotiation and consultation as soon as possible, stop going any further down the wrong track so as to avoid further damage to bilateral relations.

Q: Will China join the investigation into the missing Malaysia Airlines flight?

A: Since the plane went missing, China has been in close cooperation with the Malaysian side and other countries in searching and investigation. Going forward, we will continue to work with all parties to push forward relevant search and investigation work.

Q: Has China arranged the travel by some of the relatives of the Chinese passengers to Australia?

A: Since the search operations moved to the southern corridor, China has been in close communication and coordination with the Australian side. We noticed that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abott expressed that Australia is making preparations to receive relatives of the Chinese passengers and is willing to waive visa fees for them. China will provide all necessary assistance to facilitate the travel by those relatives willing to go to Australia.

Q: Leaders of the US, Japan and the ROK met yesterday in the Hague, the Netherlands. What is China's comment?

A: It is to our knowledge that this meeting mainly focused on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula. It is China's consistent position that to properly handle the Korean nuclear issue, ensure peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the northeast Asia serves the interests of all sides and requires the efforts from all sides. China stays committed to achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability there and resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation. This position remains consistent and clear. At the current stage, relevant parties should have a larger picture in mind, do more things that are conducive to easing tensions, jointly safeguard regional peace and stability and create favorable conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. As a close neighbor to the Peninsula and a responsible major country, China will continue its unrelenting efforts in pushing for a proper settlement of relevant issues.

Q: First, the DPRK again launched missiles towards waters off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula. What is China's comment? Second, three months have passed since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine. What does China think should be done to push forward China-Japan relations?

A: On your first question, we have noticed relevant reports. At the current stage, we hope that all sides can do more things that are conducive to easing tensions and jointly safeguard peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

On your second question, China-Japan relationship is beset by difficulties because of the Japanese leader's wrong courses of action. We demand the Japanese leader to honestly reflect on the past of aggression, rectify mistakes, change his course, regain the trust of Japan's Asian neighbors and the international community with concrete actions and create conditions for the improvement of China-Japan relationship.

Q: Does China believe that Australia has done whatever it can in searching for the missing plane? Is China satisfied with its communication and coordination with the Australian side? Will the actions taken by the Australian side in searching for the missing plane enhance China-Australia relationship?

A: China has been in close communication and coordination with the Australian side on relevant work surrounding the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean. During President Xi Jinping's phone call with Australian Prime Minister Abott, both sides agreed that they should enhance coordination and cooperation, maintain a free flow of information, further coordination and cooperation in the search operation. In recent days, for the reference of the Australian side, we have informed them of the track of the suspected floating objects, the local weather and sea state and suggested search areas. We have also asked them to designate search areas for our vessels and coordinate sea and air search. All these are done in the spirit of coordination and cooperation. We hope that this joint search can enhance the exchange and understanding between China and Australia and improve China-Australia relationship.

Q: Australian Prime Minister Abott will visit China in April. Will his visit facilitate the signing of a free trade agreement within this year?

A: We welcome the visit by Australian Prime Minister Abott. We hope that his visit will enhance our political mutual trust, economic cooperation and trade, people-to-people exchanges and coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs. We hope that early progress can be made in the final signing of a free trade agreement.

Q: The US recently decided to drop language outlining reforms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from a Ukraine aid bill to increase the odds it will get through Congress. This will be a blow to IMF's efforts to give emerging markets bigger shares ahead of the G20 Summit. What is China's comment?

A: China upholds fairness and objectiveness on the Ukraine issue. We have put forward a three-point proposal in resolving the Ukraine issue. First, an international coordination mechanism comprising all relevant parties should be set up as soon as possible to explore a political settlement of the crisis in Ukraine. Second, all parties should refrain from taking actions that will lead to further deterioration of the situation. Third, international financial institutions should start discussing how to maintain economic and financial stability of Ukraine and provide assistance in this regard. We believe that this is the direction that relevant countries should follow.

As for the quota reform in the IMF, China's position is clear. We call on relevant countries to push for the approval of relevant bills by their parliaments as soon as possible, and earnestly implement relevant decisions already adopted by the IMF.

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