China furious with Malaysia over way it handled missing plane crisis

Relatives of MH370 passengers protest at Malaysian embassy in Beijing

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions outside the Malaysia embassy in Beijing yesterday. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions outside the Malaysia embassy in Beijing yesterday. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images


China is furious with Malaysia over the way it has handled the crisis following the disappearance of flight MH370 more than two weeks ago, declaring all 239 people on board dead without presenting any physical evidence, an oversight that prompted hundreds of Chinese relatives to march on the Malaysian embassy in downtown Beijing.

All the passengers were presumed dead, airline officials said, after the flight vanished while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Officials are now convinced that the plane crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysia’s initial response to the Boeing 777’s disappearance was viewed as incompetent by China, and the country’s handling of the search may damage relations between Malaysia and China long-term.

News that the aircraft crashed in the southern Indian Ocean opens many other questions, such as how the crash took place and who was responsible. Theories currently range from a hijacking to sabotage or even a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.

Little information
What little information there is appears to show that someone on the flight may have shut off the communications systems. It is thought to have headed west and recrossed the Malay Peninsula, apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.

China’s deputy foreign minister Xie Hangsheng has demanded Malaysia hand over all relevant satellite analysis showing how it had reached its conclusion about the fate of the jet.

The search and recovery operation for the missing flight in the southern Indian Ocean was due to resume today after it was suspended yesterday due to bad weather, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.

“A visual search will resume tomorrow when the weather is expected to improve after gale- force winds and heavy swells resulted in the suspension of the search operation on Tuesday,” the statement said. As many as 12 aircraft were expected to be involved in the search today.

Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, China and South Korea are now assisting in the search, and India has also offered to join the search and recovery operation, according to the statement. It is hoped the search will locate the cockpit flight recorder, the so-called black box, which carries a locator beacon but which has a battery life of about 30 days.

The aircraft is thought to be in a remote area 2,500 kilometres southwest of Perth. Hundreds of the relatives marched on the Malaysian embassy in the Chinese capital demanding information about what happened and requesting that Kuala Lumpur share the information about the crash.

‘Unforgivable guilt’
They chanted “the Malaysian government has cheated us!” and “Malaysia, return our relatives!” and wore T-shirts saying “Let’s pray for MH370”. They marched on the embassy, throwing plastic bottles and, in a statement, said they would “take all possible means” to pursue the “unforgivable guilt” of the airline, the Malaysian government and the military.

Some criticism of the Malaysian national carrier came after some relatives of those on board first received the news that the search for survivors was over in a text message from the airline. President Xi Jinping ordered a special envoy, vice foreign minister Zhang Yesui, to Kuala Lumpur to deal with the matter of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Xi was in The Hague for the third Nuclear Security Summit. “In view of the latest developments, Xi instructed that a special envoy be sent to Kuala Lumpur to consult with the Malaysian side, learn about the situation and ask the Malaysian side to properly handle related issues,” he said.