Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Treat MH370 tragedy rationally

By Mei Xinyu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-31 07:52

Over the past three weeks, the fate of the 239 people, including 154 Chinese compatriots, on board Air Malaysia Flight MH370 has lain heavy on the hearts of all Chinese people. However, today no matter how distressed we are and how many details that are not clear, it is certain that flight MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean and no one on board survived. All the related parties can do is to continue to search for the wreckage, carry on negotiations with the Malaysian side for more information and prepare to make arrangements for funerals.

But we should not let anger prevail over facts and rationality. In the process, from the relatives of the victims, public opinion to the government, we need to comply with the fundamental norms of a civilized society and need to show the demeanor of a great power. Irrational words and behavior that runs against the fundamental norms, even if in the name of "safeguarding legal rights", will not help matters. Instead, they might backfire and even harm the overall situation of national interests, making all Chinese people pay for the tragedy.

First of all, 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. And confronted with this unprecedented crisis, it is understandable that as a developing country, the Malaysia government felt completely at a loss.

Second, it is understandable that the relatives of the victims are keen to know as soon as possible the precise whereabouts of the remains of their loved ones. But we need to understand that a conclusion on that can only come after the calculations of related technical teams based on indirect data and it will take time and effort to locate the wreckage. Especially as flight MH370 seems to have crashed in the inhospitable southern Indian Ocean, where the waves run high and the depths reach thousands of meters. There are few civil flights or regular shipping lanes through this region. We should bear in mind that there have been cases where the wreckage of a plane was found only after several years of searching. All parties should strive for the best result, but also need to be prepared for a long search.

Third, Malaysia and other related countries may not have made public all information and evidence. But we need to understand that searching for the lost flight involves a country's military capabilities and defense secrets, and demanding an independent sovereign state to release all this information is not appropriate, and it is impossible for such sensitive information to be made public.

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