China urges to intensify search for the missing Malaysian plane; Saudi Crown Prince to visit China; Xi Jinping speaks to US President Obama about Ukraine over telephone; China willing to work towards peaceful reconstruction of Afghanistan; China and ASEAN
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  • (MARCH 3-16)

    According to reports, on the issue of the missing Malaysian Flight MH370, which had 154 Chinese onboard, the Chinese Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said on March 10 that, “We hope Malaysia can fully understand, especially the mood of the Chinese passengers’ families and speed up investigation, search and rescue efforts.”1

    In another development, according to reports, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang announced on March 10 that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will be visiting China from March 13-16, 2014. He will be undertaking the trip on the invitation of the Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.2

    Reports noted that the Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Obama discussed the current situation in Ukraine in a telephonic conversation. Stressing China's objective and fair stance on Ukraine, Xi said, given the complexity of the Ukrainian situation, it was very important for all parties concerned to remain calm and exercise restraint, to avoid the escalation of the crisis. Urging political and diplomatic means to solve the crisis, Xi said China hoped that all parties concerned would tackle their differences through communication and coordination.3

    According to reports, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on March 8 that China being the biggest neighbour of Afghanistan is concerned about peace and stability in Afghanistan as it affects the Chinese development. China will positively support the political reconciliation of Afghanistan and the peaceful reconstruction of the country together with the international community.4

    According to reports, ahead of the 10th joint working group meeting between China and ASEAN on the implementation of the declaration on the conduct (DOC) of parties in the South China Sea to be held in Singapore on March 18. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said that, “China is willing to work with ASEAN towards formulating a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea”.5

    Reports noted that as per the draft budget report submitted to the national legislature for review on March 5, it was reported that China is planning to increase its defence budget by 12.2 percent. The budget will be around 808.2billion yuan (approximately $132 billion) in 2014.6
    According to reports, Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a panel discussion by ethnic members of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on March 3. President Xi said "We will build a 'wall of bronze and iron' for ethnic unity, social stability and national unity," He noted that “the tradition of all ethnic groups in the country breathing the same air and sharing the share fate should be handed down from generation to generation.”7

    According to the Chinese authorities, 28 civilians were dead and 113 injured during the premeditated terrorists attack at the railway station in southwest Chinese city of Kunming. The authorities also reported that five suspects were dead but they have not been identified yet. Xi Jinping asked the law enforcement authorities to punish the culprits according to the law.8

    According to reports, China’s top diplomat and Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said on March 17 that China is in favour of calm and restraint towards the Ukrainian situation. He further added that, “We are paying very close attention to the situation in Ukraine”.9

    According to reports, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with his US counterpart Barack Obama later this month on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in the Netherlands, Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said. The NSS will be held in The Hague from March 24 to 25. The bilateral meeting, the first between the two presidents this year, is significant for the further development of the China-US relationship, Li said at a press briefing on Xi's upcoming overseas trip. Li said the two leaders will exchange views on the China-US relationship and other issues of concern. "The Chinese side will work with the US side to pursue positive outcomes at the NSS as well as the meeting between the two heads of state and instill new momentum in the push to build a new type of major-country relationship between China and the United States," said the official.10

    Reports noted that China, on March 16, unveiled an urbanization plan for the period 2014-2020. This plan is proposed to steer the Chinese urbanization on a human focused and environmentally friendly road. The plan notes, “Domestic demand is the fundamental impetus for China’s development, and the greatest potential for expanding domestic demand lies in urbanization”.11

    According to reports, China and the UK concluded the fifth defence strategic talks on March 13. The Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Wang Guanzhong and the British Vice Chief of defence staff Stuart Peach co-chaired the talks which lasted for a day aimed at strengthening the bilateral military ties. During the talks Wang said that, “China and the UK have witnessed fast development of relations”.12

    According to reports, China's top legislator stressed reform and rule of law as the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliamentary body, concluded its annual session on March 13. The lawmakers reached consensus, defined major missions and strengthened confidence on the country's development at the session, said Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, in his address at the closing meeting of the session. Zhang highlighted in his speech the commitment to further reform and rule of law. Bearing the "glorious mission" of deepening reform, "we should mainly rely on the people...strengthen our confidence, stay on a correct path and accumulate write a new chapter in the history of our great cause of reform and opening-up," Zhang told nearly 3,000 lawmakers. He called for further fulfillment of rule of law, protection of people's rights and interests and safeguarding justice. The NPC and its standing committee bear an important responsibility in improving socialist democracy and rule of law, Zhang said.13

    In other developments, according to reports, after the conclusion of the China’s annual legislative session, Premier Li Keqiang while addressing a press conference stated that China is keen towards enhancing mutual interests and also reducing disputes with its neighbours in order to promote peace and stability. Li said that, “When neighbours interact with each other, it’s only natural that sometimes they will come across problems of one kind or another”. He further added, “But as long as they respect each other, properly manage their differences and pursue mutual benefits, there will be harmonious sounds, instead of annoying noise”.14 In addition to this Li Keqiang also added that China is committed towards efforts of search and rescue of the Malaysian plane MH370 which had 154 Chinese people on board.15