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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on May 4, 2015

Q: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2015 Annual Report on April 30, re-designating China as one of the "countries of particular concern". What is China's comment on that?

A: The Chinese government respects and protects citizens' freedom of religious belief. Chinese citizens are fully entitled to freedom and rights of religious belief in accordance with the law. The so-called USCIRF report makes unfounded accusations against China based on political prejudice. It is totally unjustifiable, and we are firmly opposed to that. We have already lodged representations with the American side and urged them to stop interfering in China's domestic affairs under the pretext of the religion issue.

Q: The Chinese side has done a lot to assist and bring back Chinese citizens after the earthquake took place in Nepal. Can you update us on the latest development? Has China taken any new move to assist Nepal with its earthquake relief work?

A: The leadership of the Party Central Committee and the State Council gives top priority to the security of Chinese citizens in disaster-hit Nepal, calling for all-out efforts in rescuing, treating and taking back Chinese citizens. Under the coordination of the Foreign Ministry, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the Chinese Embassy in Nepal and other departments concerned, efforts have been made by Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Sichuan Airlines to keep up with transportation needs despite all the difficulties. 5,685 Chinese citizens have come back home safe and sound. Operation at the Kathmandu airport has returned to normal, fully capable of handling the landing and departure of all the flights. Empty seats are seen on some of the China-bound flights. More passenger planes will be sent to Nepal to pick up Chinese citizens in the light of the actual needs.

We have also helped evacuate hundreds of people, including Chinese employees from the China Three Gorges Corporation and the Tatopani checkpoint project, as well as Qomolangma climbers. Proper arrangements have been made for them.

The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Nepal will continue to follow the information about Chinese citizens possibly trapped in Nepal, provide them with all kinds of necessary assistance and coordinate with relevant departments to deal with the follow-up matters.

In terms of the support given by the Chinese government to Nepal in its earthquake relief work, the first batch of disaster relief supplies with the total amount of 186 tons has arrived in Nepal on May 2. At the request of the Nepali side, yesterday noon, the armed transportation police force of China entered Nepal via the Zhangmu border crossing to carry out cross-border relief operation and unclog part of the China-Nepal highway with the length of 114 km. A 70-member chemical defense and decontamination team organized by the Chinese military has arrived in Nepal on May 3, taking with them decontamination equipment and professional disinfectant. They will help the Nepali side with disinfection and epidemic prevention.

Up to May 2, all the 2,000 tents and 20 rescue workers sent by the Red Cross Society of China have reached Nepal.

What is more, the three Chinese medical teams in Nepal have altogether made rounds of visits to 768 people, given medical treatment to 850 people, carried out 105 operations and trained over 600 local health and epidemic prevention workers. We will continue to assist Nepal with its disaster relief efforts in accordance with its needs.

Q: We have learned from the Defense Ministry that China and Russia are going to hold a joint military drill in the Mediterranean Sea in the middle of this month. Can you give us more details, including the specific location of the drill?

A: The Spokesperson of the Defense Ministry has answered that question last week. I have nothing new to add.

Q: The Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban recently met for talks. Does China believe that the talks have yielded positive outcomes?

A: It is our longstanding opinion that force will not help solve the issue of Afghanistan, and national reconciliation is the only way out. The Chinese side will continue to support the "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" reconciliation process. We hope to see an early realization of a highly inclusive reconciliation in Afghanistan.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. President Xi Jinping will soon attend celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War in Russia. The Office of Public Diplomacy of the Foreign Ministry and the China Public Diplomacy Association will jointly hold the 12th Lanting Forum on Tuesday, May 5 at 3 p.m. under the theme "jointly uphold the outcome of the Second World War and usher in a brighter future of win-win cooperation". Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping will deliver a keynote speech, and guests from home and abroad will give their opinions and take questions. The Forum is open to the press. You are all welcome to attend and cover the event after registration.

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