Malaysian, U.S. Handling of Flight 370 Search Sparks Anger in Chinese Media

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The mysterious disappearance of Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, which was carrying 239 passengers, 153 of them Chinese, has prompted an outraged reaction in China, with mainstream media outlets and social media buzzing with angry commentary.

Yi Pu La Xin, 30, a mechanic, wrote on the WeChat messaging system: “What I don’t understand is why they give the information piece by piece instead of being honest and giving us the truth from the beginning. My feeling is they only give as much information as necessary. What are they trying to hide? Are they worrying about losing face?”

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The official Xinhua news agency has described Malaysia’s handling of the investigation as “intolerable” and ran an op-ed piece saying it was of the utmost urgency to share information about the investigation.

“The international search is entering a new stage. Sharing information is more urgent," the piece reads. "Time is going by second by second, it is very urgent that every party honestly and publicly share information. Some countries use excuses, such as “national security” or “military information” to not share the information they know. But secrecy can’t be at the cost of lives. Even though some so-called 'sensitive information' can’t be made to public, but at least they should share the information with the parties who are involved in the search. With lives at stake, information shouldn’t be considered yours or mine."

Given the Chinese government's utter lack of transparency on many matters, especially political issues, the call for openness by the state press could be read as ironic. But in recent years, Beijing has in fact loosened rules preventing journalists from reporting on stories such as natural disasters.

Xinhua has also criticized the United States for not doing enough, suggesting that the situation would be otherwise if more Americans had been onboard the missing jetliner. 

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On Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, Huan Shui Shi Chuang wrote how he had passed the Lido Hotel in Beijing, where relatives of the missing are staying.

“When I passed the Lido Hotel, two relatives shouted, 'Please don’t take any more pictures of us. Our pictures are already everywhere.' We were very sad at the moment. At that moment, everybody put down their cameraman and phones. It was deadly silent.”

Another commentator, Er Yan said he hated waiting.

“It is full of torture during the wait," he wrote. "When you are waiting for family or relatives outside the operating theater, you tell yourself that everything will be fine. But when the whole country is waiting for information on the missing airplane, we can all imagine how much pain the family has to bear. So governments, especially the Malaysian government, please hurry up and be honest.”

A sudden possible break in the search on Thursday morning, Beijing time, had Chinese media outlets cautiously optimistic. Australian officials revealed that two objects possibly related to flight MH370 had been sighted by satellite in the remote southern Indian Ocean. As vessels and airplanes were en route to explore the objects further, China Daily reported that that Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China is paying great attention to Australia's possible findings and has ordered the embassy and consulates in Australia to keep in close touch with the Australian authorities.

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