Lost Malaysia flight 370 reveals limits of China’s power in Asia

MA flight 370 Louise Watt reports for the AP (via ABC News), March 16, 2014:

The search for a missing jetliner with Chinese travelers aboard has revealed the limits of Beijing’s influence in its own backyard and left communist leaders facing outrage from their public.

Beijing has demanded Malaysia do more to find the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner. But despite sending nine ships to help in the search, China appears to have little leverage over its far smaller Southeast Asian neighbor.

The situation is especially uncomfortable for Chinese leaders because part of the ruling Communist Party’s claim to a monopoly on power is that it is best qualified to look after the public’s interests. The rise of social media and the increased willingness of China’s public to assert its rights adds to the pressure to find the 154 Chinese among the 227 missing passengers.

There is “very likely a lot more pressure from the domestic community in China on Beijing to make sure that Chinese nationals are being protected,” said Marc Lanteigne, research director at the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington.

Malaysia 370

Anxious relatives have thronged a temporary Malaysia Airlines office set up in a Beijing hotel and accuse Malaysian officials and the carrier of withholding information. “Some of the information released by the Malaysian government and airline turns out to be true, some turns out to be false,” said Nan Jinyan, a woman from Shanghai whose brother-in-law was aboard the flight. “I believe they are still deciding which information to release and which isn’t convenient to release right now.”

China has the world’s second-largest military budget, at $114 billion last year, and has spent heavily on expanding the ability of its navy to project power farther from its shores. But the search that began in the Gulf of Thailand on the edge of the South China Sea, which China claims as its territorial waters, has relied heavily on expertise from the United States and Britain on the other side of the globe.

China is the biggest trading partner for most of its Asian neighbors, buying tens of billions of dollars’ worth of raw materials and components from them annually. Yet despite such incentives for cooperation, countries from Vietnam to Australia are uneasy about China’s ambitions, which has hampered its efforts to acquire influence.

Beijing has resorted to taking the unusual step of publicly haranguing Malaysia’s government, a sign that whatever pressure it is applying in private is failing to produce results. After Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that the Boeing 777 might have flown beyond the current search area, Beijing reacted with fury, a sign that the announcement took it by surprise. A deputy Chinese foreign minister demanded “more thorough and accurate information” about the new search area.

A stinging commentary by China’s official Xinhua News Agency accused Malaysia and the United States of dragging their feet. “Given today’s technology, the delay smacks of either dereliction of duty or reluctance to share information in a full and timely manner,” Xinhua said. It said Malaysia “bears inescapable responsibility.” Xinhua said the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing Co., and the maker of its engines, Britain’s Rolls Royce plc, as well as “intelligence superpower the United States,” with access to valuable information, “should also have done a better job.”

H/t China Daily Mail


3 responses to “Lost Malaysia flight 370 reveals limits of China’s power in Asia

  1. Claptrap. The Malaysian government along with the US, Australia, NZ and, yes China, are doing all they can to find this plane. I have worked Search and Rescue for downed airplanes and it is not easy, even when the plane goes down over land. They haven’t found Amelia Earhart’s plane after 80 years, even though they knew where she went down within 200 miles. They haven’t found the plane carrying Hale Boggs, which went down in 1972 and did so over land. At one time, I had a list of over 150 military aircraft that had disappeared over Washington , Oregon and Idaho between 1946 and 1982. I even went out on searches for these planes when there were reports of possible sightings of wreckage.


    • 666,

      Your comment is your usual arrogant dismissive claptrap.

      You seem to have missed the point of the ABC News article. It’s not about the plane still being missing. It is that, despite the Communist Party’s grandiose irredentist ambition to restore China as the hegemonic power in Asia, Beijing seems to wield little to no influence over Malaysia, being kept in the dark about important information despite 2/3s of Flight 370’s passengers being Chinese nationals.


  2. Thank you StMA for this excellent post. It is noteworthy how arrogance masks the truth for some people, wherein clarity is relinquished for narcissism.


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