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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on April 4, 2014

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on April 4, 2014.

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

On March 3, China's maritime search forces forged ahead with the all-out search operation in relevant waters for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft. Chinese vessels at the front use shipborne equipment for underwater scanning, stay in close communication with the Australian search and rescue authorities and step up coordination between air and sea forces so as to develop synergy in the search operation.

The mission area was moved westward on March 3 compared with that designated by the Australian side on March 2, covering over 220,000 square kilometers. Both the Chinese and Australian search forces are working in this area. Seven Chinese vessels, including Haixun 01, South China Sea Rescue 115, East China Sea Rescue 101 as well as Chinese naval vessels Jinggangshan, Kunlunshan, Qiandaohu and Haikou are searching in this mission area. One IL-76 of the China Air Force is also searching above the same waters.

China has deployed 18 vessels, eight shipboard helicopters and three fixed-wing aircrafts to scour over 200,000 square kilometers of possible waters. Over 60 merchant ships passing by and 20-odd fishing boats have joined the search operation and assisted in searching 160,000 square kilometers of waters.

Q: According to the Japanese media, the Chinese government has set a precondition for the meeting between Chinese and Japanese leaders, which is a public promise made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of not visiting the Yasukuni Shrine during his tenure. Media say that the pressure imposed by China on Japan has shifted from territorial disputes to historical issues. Has China ever done so?

A: China's position on Sino-Japanese relations is clear and firm. The difficulties faced by bilateral relations are caused by the repeated provocative actions by Japan on issues of history and the Diaoyu Islands. We urge the Japanese side to be honest with and reflect on its history of aggression, stop all actions that undermine China's territorial sovereignty, take concrete actions to correct mistakes, change course and make serious efforts to improve China-Japan relations.

Q: Daniel Russel, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs told a congressional hearing the other day that the Crimea model could serve as a precedent for China to obtain territories in the South China Sea by force and coercion. Countries in Southeast Asia are worried about that. The Chinese side should not doubt the US commitment to defend its Asian allies, and should demonstrate its commitment to peacefully resolving territorial disputes. What is China's comment?

A: Be it the issue of Ukraine or the issue of the South China Sea, China has many times expressed its positions. Why must the US official mention the two things in the same breath, and make an issue of China? You may ask him.

Q: The Japanese government released the Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 today, staking its claim to the Diaoyu Islands, accusing China of making unilateral assertions in the East China Sea and South China Sea inconsistent with international law and demanding China to increase its military transparency. What is China's comment?

A: Japan's newly released Diplomatic Bluebook maliciously hypes up the so-called "China-threat", willfully smears China and makes unreasonable accusation against China in disregard of basic facts. China expresses serious concerns about and strong dissatisfaction with that.

Peace and stability is the trend of the times. To uphold regional peace and stability is an irresistible trend that accords with the will of the people. Japan goes against the trend of the times, stirs up tension and confrontation and makes excuses for its domestic political agenda of arms expansion, war preparation and breaking away from the post-war order. All these have aroused high vigilance of its Asian neighbors and the international community.

It is no one else but Japan that stirs up troubles and changes the status quo of the Diaoyu Islands and the East China Sea with unilateral actions. Whatever means Japan employs to mislead the public opinion, it cannot change the fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China, nor will it shake China's firm resolve of safeguarding national territorial sovereignty. We urge the Japanese side to adopt a correct attitude and stop all the provocative words and deeds that are detrimental to China's sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests.

Q: Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced the outcomes of its reviewing of elementary school textbooks to be used for the next academic year, which describe the Diaoyu Islands as "integral parts of Japanese territory". What is China's comment? Has China considered lodging protest with the Japanese side?

A: We have been requiring the Japanese side to face up to history with honesty and teach the next generation with a correct conception of history. The Japanese side should tell younger generations what is true about the Diaoyu Islands in textbooks, that is, the Diaoyu Islands that belong to China are illegally snatched by Japan. We require the Japanese side to stop provocations on relevant issue.

Q: Analysts say that Japan's relaxation of the three principles on arms export will enable the US and Japan to enhance defence cooperation in arms sharing and other aspects, which may bring more uncertainties to issues of the East China Sea and South China Sea. What is China's comment?

A: What policy Japan pursues in the military and security fields has a bearing on the security environment and strategic stability of the region. It is also related to where Japan is headed, hence high attention from us. We hope that the Japanese side could draw hard lessons from history, take seriously the security concerns of its Asian neighbors, conform to the trend of times, follow a path of peaceful development and take concrete actions to win back the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.

After the press conference, a journalist asked: On March 21, the predominantly Armenian town of Kassab and nearby villages in northwestern Syria were stormed by armed opposition groups, leaving over 100 civilians dead and 1,500 homeless. What is China's comment?

Hong Lei: China strongly condemns any actions that cruelly injure or kill innocent civilians. China once again urges all relevant parties in Syria to realize an immediate ceasefire and cessation of violence, take concrete measures to protect civilians including those from the ethnic minorities, start Geneva III as soon as possible, push for the political settlement of the Syrian issue and restore peace and stability of Syria at an early date.

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