Flight MH370

Malaysia Airlines flight 370

China's ambassador to Malaysia distances country from anger of MH370 families

Ambassador to Malaysia strikes conciliatory tone as he emphasises joint responsibility in missing jet search after criticism from families

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 11:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2014, 5:24pm

Beijing last night sought to distance itself from critical comments made by Chinese relatives of those onboard flight MH370, branding them "irresponsible" and unrepresentative of the views of the central government.

In an effort to smooth bilateral ties after a backlash in Malaysia over attacks by some families, China's ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said he was confident the investigation was being handled well.

His statement came days after state media urged relatives to act "rationally" to news their loved ones had almost certainly perished in the Indian Ocean.

"Some Chinese families, internet users and well-known people have aired some radical views," Huang said.

"These radical and irresponsible opinions do not represent the views of Chinese people and the Chinese government."

Huang is the first official to comment on the outbursts.

Today a British nuclear submarine arrived at the site of the search, while Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak met officials in Perth.

“We owe it to the grieving families to... give them comfort and closure to  this rather tragic event and the world expects us to do our level best,” Najib said as he toured the search base in Perth.

Yesterday Huang defended Razak's use of the word "ended" when describing the probability that the jet plunged into the ocean on March 8 - a turn of phrase that infuriated relatives who said there was no evidence of a crash.

Some accused the Malaysians of "murdering" loved ones by delaying the rescue mission, while others called for a boycott of Malaysian travel and goods.

"None of the accusations are true," Huang said. "Najib Razak chose the word 'ended' instead of 'crashed' or 'lost'. I fully understood why, because the purpose was to avoid harmful meaning."

Huang's conciliatory tone marked a softening in the stance of the government, which last week allowed a demonstration to take place outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing.

Huang said Kuala Lumpur had had problems co-ordinating the search and releasing consistent information, but added that Malaysia could not bear sole responsibility for the search.

China and Malaysia are ... co-operating with and trust each other
Ambassador Huang Huikang

"China and Malaysia are sincerely co-operating with and trust each other," he said. "We are willing to give helping hands to each other without hesitation whenever the other is in need."

The airline incident would not sour relations on the 40th anniversary of bilateral ties, Huang said. Planned celebrations would go ahead, with China giving two pandas to Malaysia and Najib visiting Beijing in May.

Huang's remarks came as Premier Li Keqiang and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke by phone, during which time Li said rescue efforts should not be lessened.

Last night, following a meeting with Malaysia's civil aviation director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, some Chinese families remained unrepentant.

One man, who did not wish to be named, said: "We have not raised any unreasonable demands. Our criticisms are not targeted at Malaysian people, but the government."

Yesterday Malaysia's top policeman, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar, warned investigators "may not ever know the real cause" of the disappearance of the Boeing 777 and the 239 people onboard.