Search area: A Singapore Air Force plane scanning the sea about 140 nautical miles north-east of Kota Baru for any signs of the MH370 plane which went missing. It has since been established that the oil slick in the sea is not aviation fuel. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
BEIJING: China has not ruled out terrorism is the disappeance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in which 153 Chinese/Taiwanese were on board.
The China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial that the fact that some of the passengers on board were travelling with false passports should serve as a reminder to the whole world that security can never be too tight.
“Terrorism, the evil of the world, is still trying to stain human civilisation with the blood of innocent lives,” it said.
Some family members are saying they would not go to Kuala Lumpur today as there has been no information forthcoming.
“There is more we can do here in China,” one woman told AFP. “They haven’t even found the plane yet.”
The lack of information is also said to have irked Chinese authorities.
Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quoted as saying that the Chinese government wanted “the Malaysian side to step up their efforts to speed up the investigation and provide accurate information to China in a timely fashion”.
“They should also properly manage work related to family members of passengers and follow-up issues,” he added.
Qin noted that “the incident is still under investigation”, but China’s state-run media minced no words, lashing out at Malaysia and its national carrier over its handling of the missing jet, demanding answers despite the early stage of the investigation.
“The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities,” the Global Times newspaper, which is close to China’s ruling Communist Party, wrote. “There are loopholes in the work of Malaysia Airlines and security authorities.”
For its part, MAS said in a statement that it is deploying an additional aircraft today “to bring the families from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur”.
Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, however, denied the allegation that Chinese authorities are unhappy with how Malaysia is handling the matter.
“Far from it.” he said. “We are cooperating very closely on three aspects, namely search and rescue operation, identifying those who travelled on false passports and dealing with the families of the passengers.
“We have been in contact from the outset with China. Now, there is a special task force stationed here to help us on the three aspects,” he said. “I have had a long discussion with the Chinese parties and from the ministries. The ambassador has seen first-hand what we are doing.”
The aircraft’s disappearance came one week after a deadly attack at a train station in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, in which a group of knife-wielding assailants killed 29 people and wounded 143.
Both Beijing and Washington have condemned the mass stabbing as an act of terror, with Chinese authorities blaming it on separatists from the restive far western region of Xinjiang.
Even as information remains sparse and the hours tick by, many relatives in Beijing continue to believe that the passengers may yet be found, according to one US-trained psychologist who counselled about 20 families awaiting news at a hotel.
“I think most of them are holding onto that thin ray of hope,” he said. “Whether they believe it to be realistic or not, most of them are not letting it go.” — Agencies