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Treat MH370 tragedy rationally

By Mei Xinyu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-31 07:30

Treat MH370 tragedy rationally
Li Feng

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.

Trying to force someone to do what something they are unwilling to do usually tends to make things more difficult, a more feasible way is to use official channels and promise not to disclose such information to the public and third parties, so as to have access to more sensitive information.

We should know that the government will do its best to safeguard the rights and interests of Chinese citizens and there is no reason to doubt that the government is not taking pains to deal with the crisis.

Public opinion should not blame the Malaysian authorities for deliberately covering up information in the absence of hard evidence. Whether by official channels or follow-up civil litigation, we still need to speak with evidence and act according to the law, rather than through "making a noise" or indulging in aggressive or irrational behavior.

China is a great power and our government attaches great importance to the incident. After flight MH370 went missing, the Chinese government not only carried out intense diplomacy, it also deployed the largest rescue team in its history of maritime search and rescue operations, including coast guard vessel 3411, South China Sea Rescue 101 and 115, the amphibious landing ship Jinggangshan, the guided missile frigate Mianyang, the guided missile destroyer Haikou, the amphibious landing ship Kunlunshan, the warship Qiandaohu, the guided missile destroyer Changchun, the guided missile frigate Changzhou and integrated supply ship Chaohu. They carry several helicopters, about 1,000 marines, and dozens of professional divers and medical teams. In addition, China has also redeployed about 20 satellites to hunt for the wreckage, which is unprecedented. Even though there are such and such doubts, since the country has mobilized so much manpower and resources, why cannot we be patient and just wait until they find the wreckage and get the evidence.

We should acknowledge that in the face of the tragedy of flight MH370, Malaysia did not pass the buck, and the whole of Malaysian society showed their deep sorrow and shame. Malaysian citizens, media and scholars all openly criticized the authorities for their misconduct in handling the case. Their public opinion did not claim that the incident was masterminded by an individual that does not represent Malaysia and its people and they did not retort to outside criticism and pressure. Chinese people should refrain from inciting criticism and instigating boycotts against Malaysia so as to avoid hurting the majority of people in Malaysia.

All Chinese people sympathize with the relatives of the passengers on board MH370 and share their sufferings. But we should also remember that a time of adversity is no excuse for trampling on social norms.

We can understand and tolerate those victim families' emotional catharsis as long as their behavior doesn't violate social norms.

We hope that those whose voices are being heard can carry forward rationality, self-discipline and law-abiding consciousness, rather than fermenting irrational, individualistic activities that trample on laws and ethics. The basic line is not violating laws and ethics as the way to safeguard rights; this is a basic manner and behavioral standard of human society, and to abide by it does not require high academic qualifications or high level of knowledge.

China is a highly civilized country and the Chinese government is fully capable of maintaining order and making objective and rational decisions. The rest of society should likewise take a rational attitude.

The author is a researcher at the International Trade and Economic Cooperation Institute of the Ministry of Commerce.

Treat MH370 tragedy rationally

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