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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on May 20, 2014

At the invitation of the Organizing Committee of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vice President Li Yuanchao will attend the 18th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia from May 21 to 24.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, the Minister of External Affairs of the Principality of Andorra will pay an official visit to China from May 25 to 31.

Q: Media reports of the DPRK said on May 18 that a 23-storey apartment building under construction in the Phyongchon District of Pyongyang collapsed on May 13, causing heavy casualties and property losses. What is China's comment? Has China extended condolences to the DPRK?

A: China is very concerned about this accident. We extend our profound condolences to the victims and sincere sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured. China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors. We hope and believe that follow-up issues of this accident can be properly addressed under the leadership of the DPRK government.

Q: Can you update us on China's efforts in bringing back Chinese citizens from Vietnam?

A: China has organized one charted plane with medical facilities onboard and two commercial chartered planes to bring back 307 wounded personnel of the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (CMGC) and other companies that are worst affected in this incident from Ha Tinh province of Vietnam. Following this operation, under the effective coordination of various departments, China yesterday sent another 4 ferries to pick up 3,553 Chinese employees of the CMGC and other companies from the Vung Ang port of Vietnam. Two of the ferries Wuzhishan and Tongguling have already arrived at Haikou, Hainan province this noon, and another two ferries Zijing 12 and Baishiling are about to arrive at Haikou later today. Additionally, the cross-sectoral working group sent by the Chinese government and Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Vietnam also assisted a vast number of Chinese citizens in returning to China by themselves. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the cross-sectoral working group and Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Vietnam have been requesting the Vietnamese side to provide convenience and assistance for us so that relevant operation can be carried out smoothly.

China will continue to urge the Vietnamese side to take effective measures, ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and property in Vietnam, hold those Vietnamese who were engaged in violent activities accountable and compensate Chinese companies and citizens for their losses. Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Vietnam will follow closely the evolvement of the situation in Vietnam and make all-out efforts to uphold safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese institutions and citizens in Vietnam.

Q: What is China's response to Chinese employees being abducted by armed group in Cameroon?

A: The Chinese government is highly concerned about the abduction of Chinese employees in Cameroon. We maintain close communication with governments of Cameroon and relevant countries, and ask relevant parties to search for and rescue the abducted Chinese employees while taking concrete actions to ensure their safety. We also ask governments of relevant countries to fully guarantee the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in their countries and offer better protection.

Q: Will China take any further steps in response to US Justice Department's indictment of five Chinese military officers?

A: Relevant authorities of the US announced indictment against five Chinese military officers on allegation of "cyber theft". This move grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardizes China-US cooperation and mutual trust. China is deeply outraged by and firmly opposed to this, and we have urged the US side to immediately correct its mistake and withdraw the "indictment". Given the lack of sincerity on the part of the US to solve issues related to cyber security through dialogue and cooperation, China has decided to suspend activities of the China-US Cyber Working Group. China will react further to the US "indictment" as the situation evolves.

Q: Can you brief us on the negotiation between China and Russia on the natural gas project? Has the negotiation failed? And if not, when will China and Russia seal a deal?

A: To my knowledge, companies from China and Russia are stepping up their consultation on the eastern gas program between China and Russia. We hope both parties can work towards the same direction, enter into a purchase and sale contract at an early date so as to promote cooperation between China and Russia on natural gas project.

Q: Thailand's army has declared martial law across the country today. What is China's comment?

A: It is China's long-held stance that relevant parties in Thailand should bear in mind the fundamental and long-term interests of its country and people, strengthen dialogue and consultation, properly deal with political disputes and restore stability as soon as possible. We hope all parties in Thailand can make positive efforts to this end.

Q: Article 51 of the UN Charter stipulates that "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security". Recent days have witnessed some discussions about Japan's lifting the ban on the right to collective self-defense, and what is China's comment on these discussions?

A: Due to historical reasons, any of Japan's move in the military and security field has always been the concern of its Asian neighbors and the international community. In view of what the Japanese government has done recently, the international community is highly vigilant about Japan's true intentions and future direction of development. Under these circumstances, relevant discussions in Japan are due to raise further concerns from its Asian neighbors and the international community. We urge the Japanese side to face up to and earnestly reflect upon its history, respond to the concerns of its Asian neighbors and the international community, follow the path of peaceful development and play a constructive role for regional peace and stability.

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