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China should treat the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 “rationally”, a commentary in state media said on Monday, after days of lurid accusations by relatives insisting their loved ones could still be alive.
Under the headline “Treat MH370 tragedy rationally”, the commentary in the China Daily newspaper, which is run by the government, said: “It is certain that flight MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean and no one on board survived.”
“We should not let anger prevail over facts and rationality,” it said. “We need to comply with the fundamental norms of a civilised society and need to show the demeanour of a great power.”
Irrational words and behaviour would “not help matters”, it added, and those involved should “prepare to make arrangements for funerals”.
“Although the Malaysian government’s handling of the crisis has been quite clumsy, we need to understand this is perhaps the most bizarre incident in Asian civil aviation history. It is understandable that as a developing country, the Malaysia government felt completely at a loss.”
It stressed that finding the aircraft and analysing technical data would take time.
“Why cannot we be patient and just wait until they find the wreckage and get the evidence?” it asked.
“Public opinion should not blame the Malaysian authorities for deliberately covering up information in the absence of hard evidence,” it added.
The author, Mei Xinyu, is a researcher at a commerce ministry institute who is known for his analyses of international trade disputes.
His tone was in stark contrast to that of many relatives of the 153 Chinese on board the flight, who are still clinging to hopes that they could somehow still be alive.
Some have demanded that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak withdraw and apologise for his announcement based on satellite data and other calculations that the plane was lost in the southern Indian Ocean.
“We just have to close our eyes and we see our loved ones there, out there, in pain, desperate for someone to rescue them,” one man said on Sunday at a hotel in Beijing where the relatives have been waiting for news.
“Such a long time has passed, but nevertheless the facts do give us grounds to be sure that our loved ones are still alive and that the plane is out there, somewhere.”
Some have embraced bizarre conspiracy theories involving the plane being hijacked and taken to a secret location and the passengers held hostage.
Scores of Chinese relatives were allowed by authorities in Beijing - who normally keep a tight lid on public dissent - to protest at Malaysia’s embassy last week, shouting that Kuala Lumpur authorities were “murderers”.
A day later, relatives called the Malaysian ambassador to Beijing a “liar” and a “rogue” during a meeting.
In the first days after the plane’s disappearance Chinese officials were critical of the Malaysian response, but have since moderated their tone, although they still talk of there being a “glimmer of hope” and are urging Kuala Lumpur to bring Chinese experts into the investigation.