Flight MH370

Malaysia Airlines flight 370

China hits back at US reports criticising Beijing over MH370 search

US media reports accusing Beijing of dragging its feet spark angry response

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 April, 2014, 3:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2014, 8:15am

China has angrily hit back at mainstream US media that accused Beijing of dragging its feet in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370.

The Beijing-based Global Times defended the nation's stance yesterday, after foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Tuesday called a Monday report in The New York Times an irresponsible and pointless provocation.

The report said: "The mission has clearly been a prime opportunity for the Chinese government to demonstrate its determination and technological abilities to its domestic audience and to improve on its response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year, which was widely criticised as late and tepid."

Another report by The Wall Street Journal the following day also highlighted China's "reluctance" to partner with others, citing delays in sharing information about detecting suspected ping signals, as well as its absence at regional search and rescue co-operation forums before MH370 went missing.

On April 5, Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 announced it had detected pulse signals, while Shanghai party mouthpiece Jiefang Daily posted photos of the Chinese search team using rather rudimentary equipment more suitable for shallow water search.

Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield detected two further signals near the same area. They were later ruled out as relating to the plane. According to the Times, analysts believed the false alarm "served to distract and delay the search effort".

More than a month after the plane disappeared on March 8, families of the 239 on board - 154 of whom were Chinese - remain in the dark as to the whereabouts of their loved ones.

As military assets are at stake, some of the 26 countries working together have been reluctant to share all their data.

A multitude of countries, including China, Malaysia and Australia, have reportedly seen satellite images and spotted debris possibly relating to the missing aircraft.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said it was "common practice" for countries to withhold sensitive digital data they receive until the data is analysed and publicly announced.

"It's a pity the countries have been unable to co-ordinate. Even the news reporting mechanism is a mess," Li said. "All of this has delayed the search."

But he was hopeful all the countries involved would come up with a more efficient system of collaboration.

Shanghai-based military expert Professor Ni Lexiong said no country was to blame for slowing down the investigation. "China has always stressed that its technology lags the US' by at least 30 years, especially those technologies used in the military sector," Ni said. "This incident has showed the world that there is a big gap between China and the West. China knew of its weakness before taking part in the investigation, but it went ahead because more than half of the missing passengers are Chinese."

Additional reporting by Teddy Ng and Minnie Chan