• Wed
  • Sep 3, 2014
  • Updated: 4:41am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 April, 2014, 4:43am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 April, 2014, 4:43am

Chinese families' aggression won't help to find missing flight MH370

There was a poignant moment during a BBC news segment last week on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 when the tearful relatives of a missing couple from New Zealand thanked the many nations that have devoted resources to search for the plane.

With their quiet dignity and measure of acceptance, it will probably be much easier for them to find closure after their heartbreaking loss, regardless of the results of the search and what caused the plane's disappearance. By contrast, many Chinese relatives and their online supporters have been behaving like raging bulls. They have made wild accusations and physically confronted Malaysian officials. Perhaps they find it natural to act out their anger and frustrations. That's understandable. Whether or not that helps anyone in the search for the plane is a different matter. In the end, non-Chinese families of the missing passengers, I am sure, grieve as much as we Chinese. And you don't see them displaying the same level of aggression.

There is no doubt the Malaysian airline and government initially fumbled in their handling of arguably the greatest aviation crisis their country has faced. They displayed a level of incompetence and inexperience that was quite breathtaking, at least initially. But to be fair, their performance and co-ordination improved over the following weeks; and officials from Prime Minister Najib Razak downwards have shown patience and humanity.

Because officialdom in China is often unresponsive and unaccountable, it has become second nature for many Chinese to mistrust government accounts and fight officials. Confrontation and aggression become their default mode in fighting for what they think they are within their rights to demand. Such behaviour has been on ample display in the relatives' dealings with the Malaysians. But whatever their faults, I am sure officials from the Malaysian airline and the government are not murderers or conspirators, as some Chinese families have accused them of being.

Beijing is right to distance itself from such statements. The relatives deserve all the help they can get, including some kind and honest advice to moderate their behaviour.


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Grieving is no excuse for acting like apes in the jungle. Next time I take a trip I may have to consider putting a "NOT MAINLAND CHINESE" sticker on my forehead.
great article!
It's the natural reaction of mainland Chinese to fly off the handle and scream loudly for compensation if they feel wronged or bring a product back to a store that they purchased from and deem defective because there are few if any consumer protection mechanisms in china. They've been taught that the loudest, most annoying voice will be dealt with to shut them up.
Combine that with the way the government treats it's own citizens when it comes to justice for food scandals, property loss or abuse of human rights and you have a population that turns to the most uncivilized and barbaric behaviour to attain just an iota of satisfaction/justice.
This is the Chinese Dream.
Victims from 13 other nationalities also lost their lives on MH370 but their display of grief is nothing like the Mainland Chinese. It's not Chinese culture to behave in an Irrational and Physically Aggressive way. Tell me where in Confucious' or any other Chinese writings that this is the way Chinese people should behave !!! There are Chinese victims from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia but their relatives, news media and netizens don't behave in such boorish manner. It is not "understandable", Mr. Lo, for such behavior. The example shown by grieving relatives of other naitonalities, including Asian nationalities, shows that this is not a difference between eastern and western culture. These Asian relatives, their news media and netizens don't behave like the Mainland Chinese in this situation.
The Chinese government and ambassador have come out and said that such behavior from the victims' relatives, news media, celebrities and netizens are Irrational and Unacceptable. The Chinese government has belatedly admitted publicly and agreed with the Malaysian government that MH370 has "ended" in the southern Indian Ocean and there's probably no survivors. Chinese government has also belatedly praised and thanked the Malaysian government for their tireless and sincere effort. One can argue that the Malaysian officials had fumbled in the intial few days of the S&R but then again, this incident is without parallel in the history of aviation and there's no SOP to follow.
It may be valid to generalize AL’s observation:
“Confrontation and aggression become their default mode
fighting for what they think within their rights to demand.
Such behaviour has been on ample display”
but not his explanation:
“officialdom in China is often unresponsive and unaccountable,
it has become second nature for many Chinese to mistrust government”
AL wrongly implies
that a mistrusted government can be so unresponsive and unaccountable
that it’d indulge the public “fighting” for its presumption of rights
thus nurturing such a horrible social character.
People fight only if they feel free and fear no deterrence
In the west where monarchs and aristocrats reigned absolutely
such breeds long perished in Newgate and Bastille and boondocks
domestic purges were followed by x years wars and WW
precursors of today’s seeming peace, order and rights
which westerners misrepresent as their inherent nature
which misguided parvenus in China imagine as boundless
Western pied pipers and wide-eyed Chinese political parvenus
That’s why the tendency to fight for misconceived rights
oh dear, here we go again. Death by dictionary.
As a practising Buddhist, I share my grief and sorrow with all the families whose loved ones lost their lives in the MH370 tragedy. On reflection, it is interesting to observe that nearly all the non-Chinese families (who had relatives on board 370) handle their grief very differently. I am very impressed with the relatives of the missing New Zealand couple who thanked "the many nations who have poured in the resources", in a dignified and solemn way. It is poignant as to move tears. These are the human qualities which all should emulate. On a separate note, talking of being unresponsive and unaccountable, in certain ways officials from China and Malaysia are brethren in arms. Don't you think?
Good article - until the final paragraph. The"Beijing" you talk of created this sorry behavior as you admit earlier in the piece, so why praise them for distancing itself?
You're a little late to the party, Mr. Lo, but you're welcome just the same.
‘Because officialdom in China is often unresponsive and unaccountable, it has become second nature for many Chinese to mistrust government accounts and fight officials. Confrontation and aggression become their default mode in fighting for what they think they are within their rights to demand.’
In addition I like to add that Chinese culture is not New Zealand culture. Chinese are emotional especially when comes to personal matter. Never mind about a newly adopted way of doing things that described as with Chinese characteristic. Emotion display in the public is a Chinese characteristic – no government interference can stop. Anger is part of that emotion.
Remember, the rich folks in the past would even pay people to cry in a funeral – that is, a display of sorrow which our emotion is also very part of.




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