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A foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, referred reporters to the Global Times report in response to requests for information about the investigation.
The Journal, citing people familiar with US officials’ preliminary assessment, said the data recorder suggests inputs to the controls pushed the plane into the fatal dive.
It said American investigators were looking at the actions of a pilot and there also was a possibility someone else could have broken into the cockpit and caused the crash.
A seven-member team from the US National Transportation Safety Board arrived in China on April 2 to help with the investigation of the US-manufactured aircraft.
Its flight data recorder was being analysed at a laboratory in Washington.
The 737-800 has one of the aviation industry’s best safety records. China’s airline industry, one of the world’s biggest, has had relatively few mishaps in recent years.