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Malaysia's thriving China ties tested by missing plane

By Stuart Grudgings and Megha Rajagopalan

(Reuters) - A torrent of criticism from China's government and people over Malaysia's handling of the search for a missing jetliner is threatening to cast a chill over one of Beijing's closer relationships in a region fraught with geopolitical rivalries.

Since Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared three weeks ago, the Southeast Asian country has faced verbal attacks from China's government, media and passengers' families angry at its perceived muddled response and poor communications.

Several Chinese celebrities have now taken up the cudgels on social media, urging their millions of followers to boycott Malaysia, threatening to worsen what seems likely to be a heavy fall in lucrative Chinese tourism.

In Malaysia, China's reaction is increasingly viewed as high-handed, excessively harsh and hypocritical as Kuala Lumpur grapples with what it sees as an unprecedented crisis.

"Do they think they are the only ones grieving over the missing plane?" wrote Malaysian Facebook user Pei Ling Gan.

"I wonder if they would speak up against their government for Tibet and Taiwan in the name of truth and justice, too."

Several high-profile Chinese celebrities, including actress Zhang Ziyi, star of the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", have lashed out at Malaysia and urged Chinese not to visit.

Grief-stricken relatives cursed and screamed at the Malaysian ambassador and other government and airline officials at news conferences in Beijing this week, accusing them of murdering their loved ones. Most passengers on the flight were Chinese.

Passengers' relatives tried to storm the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on Tuesday and were provided with buses by police afterwards, reinforcing suspicions that China's government has encouraged the outbursts in order to channel discontent over the so-far fruitless search towards Malaysia.

"The relationship between the Malaysian government and the Chinese government is quite strong. So I don't know why they are acting like this, maybe it's convenient," said Nur Jazlan Mohamed, a member of parliament for Malaysia's ruling party.

Chinese leaders have several times "demanded" action from Malaysia, while state-backed media have taken an even harsher line, going so far as questioning Malaysia's ambitions to become a developed country. Social media campaigns have struck a threatening tone, with conspiracy theories gaining popularity.

Analysts say China's leaders are mindful of domestic opinion that expects China to stand up for its citizens' interests abroad with a robustness that matches its growing clout as the world's second-largest economy.


A long-term deterioration of ties is unlikely - both countries have too much to lose from an otherwise thriving economic relationship, analysts said. But the bad blood generated by the crisis could linger, adding to wariness in Malaysia and other Asian nations over China's rising regional power and leadership pretensions.

Beijing has a fraught relationship with many of its Southeast Asian neighbors and is party to a string of territorial disputes, particularly in the South China Sea.

"There's a lot of public relations to be done, a lot of re-engagement. There will be a dramatic dip in the relations in that sense," said Tang Siew Mun, a foreign policy specialist at Malaysia's Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak plans to go ahead with a visit to China in May, part of a series of exchanges that had been planned to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

But other events are falling victim to the outpouring of rage against Malaysia.

The Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce would postpone some events it has been planning to mark the anniversary, said its vice president Tan Yew Sing.

Malaysian Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz said on Monday that "Visit Malaysia Year" roadshows in China would be halted until the MH370 case is closed.

Chinese travel agents have reported a slump in bookings for Malaysia. The China Daily reported on Wednesday that one large travel agency, Beijing-based China Youth Travel Service, had canceled all existing bookings with Malaysia Airlines.

Malaysia, with a Chinese ethnic minority that makes up more than a quarter of its population, has seen itself as having a special relationship with China ever since it became the first Southeast Asian country to establish diplomatic ties in 1974.

Malaysia's economic and investment ties have never been stronger with China, its largest trade partner. Najib and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to triple two-way trade in four years to $160 billion during Xi's visit last year, when he also bestowed coveted "strategic partner" status on Malaysia and announced plans for their first joint military exercises.

"This adverse affect should be short-term," said Tan of the chamber of commerce. "It is not to the advantage of the Chinese government to let this carry on."

(Additional reporting by Anuradha Raghu in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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ycplum March 28 2014 at 12:50 PM

The chinese government is try to suck up to the chinese people at the expense of the Malaysian government. Yes the Malaysian government made mistakes (but orders of magnitude better than China's handling of teh HiSpeed Rail wreck), but the Chinese government's actions are counterproductive.

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mylo36 March 28 2014 at 10:17 PM

Funny how this is not on our news but is on the U.K. news!

Malaysian plane: 20 passengers worked for

A US technology company which had 20 senior staff on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had just launched a new electronic warfare gadget for military radar systems in the days before the Boeing 777 went missing.

Freescale Semiconductor, which makes powerful microchips for industries including defence, released the powerful new products to the American market on March 3.

Five days later, Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board including 20 working for Freescale.

Twelve were from Malaysia, while eight were Chinese nationals.

Freescale’s spokesman Mitch Haws has said: “These were all people with a lot of experience and technical background and they were very important people.

“It’s definitely a loss for the company.”

Freescale’s shareholders include the Carlyle Group of private equity investors whose past advisers have included ex-US president George Bush Sr and former British Prime Minister John Major.

Carlyle’s previous heavyweight clients include the Saudi Binladin Group, the construction firm owned by the family of Osama bin Laden.

The fact that Freescale had so many highly qualified staff on board the Boeing 777 had already prompted wild conspiracy theories about what might have happened.

The company says they were flying to China to improve its consumer products operations, but Freescale’s fresh links to electronic warfare technology is likely to trigger more speculation and deepen the mystery.

Experts have been baffled how a large passenger jet seems to have flown undetected and possibly beaten military radar systems for up to six hours.

Avoiding radar via “cloaking technology” has long been one of the objectives of the defence industry and Freescale has been active developing chips for military radar.

On its website, the company says its radio frequency products meet the requirements for applications in “avionics, radar, communications, missile guidance, electronic warfare and identification friend or foe”.

Last June it announced it was creating a team of specialists dedicated to producing “radio frequency power products” for the defence industry.

And on March 3, it announced it was releasing 11 of these new gadgets for use in “high frequency, VHF and low-band UHF radar and radio communications”.

The company did not respond to questions from Express Online, including whether any of its missing employees had been working on the defence products.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rreggaeredkc March 28 2014 at 6:24 PM

The world is a hard place to understand. When I was growing up, if I fell out of a neighbor's tree and got hurt, it was called an accident. Accidents happen. Accidents are part of life. We didn't promote conspiracy theories by the hundreds. We didn't blame the owner of the property. Do people really believe there are no longer accidents in this world? Do people really believe that every action or reaction is intentional? Maliscious? Meant to hurt someone? There are numerous motor vehicle accidents daily. 100% of those accidents were not intentional. 100% of people in those accidents were not imbibing in etoh or other substances.

My heart goes out to all of the families. There are stages of grief we all go through. As sad as it is....as tragic as it is.....there is a time in all of our lives when the sooner we accept the growing inevitability of this, the sooner we may find even an ounce of peace in our lives. I was sitting here thinking, what if we do find debris from the plane? Does that mean that's where the plane went down? I'm just not sure finding debris will assauge or decrease many of the feelings of rage in this intense grief. I don't know when it will end, but 3 weeks later, I remain sad for these families and their friends and communities.

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mylo36 March 28 2014 at 10:18 PM

Part 2

“Have you pieced together the puzzle of missing flight 370 to Beijing China? If not, here are your missing pieces.

“Patents Patents Patents.

“Four days after the missing flight MH370 a patent is approved by the Patent Office, four of the five Patent holders are Chinese employees of Freescale Semiconductor of Austin TX.

“Patent is divided up on 20 per cent increments to five holders.

“Peidong Wang, Suzhou, China, (20 per cent); Zhijun Chen, Suzhou, China, (20 per cent); Zhihong Cheng, Suzhou, China, (20 per cent); Li Ying, Suzhou, China, (20 per cent); Freescale Semiconductor (20 per cent).

“If a patent holder dies, then the remaining holders equally share the dividends of the deceased if not disputed in a will.

“If four of the five dies, then the remaining one Patent holder gets 100 per cent of the wealth of the patent.

“That remaining live Patent holder is Freescale Semiconductor.”

It adds: “Here is your motive for the missing Beijing plane. As all four Chinese members of the Patent were passengers on the missing plane.

“Patent holders can alter the proceeds legally by passing wealth to their heirs. “However, they cannot do so until the Patent is approved. So when the plane went missing, the patent had not been approved.”

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juststeve35 March 28 2014 at 2:52 PM

This is all because the Chinese Government takes a dim view on anyone OTHER THAN THEM who mistreats or causes the death of the citizens...

Now, if the Chinese Government wants to mistreat or cause the death of their own citizenry, that's just fine and dandy with them.

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ms317 March 28 2014 at 12:58 PM

I've been to Malasia. It's a hell hole. Dirty, air reeking with polution, and very, very dangerous. Who would ever want to tour there? I did over 10 years ago, and I will NEVER go back. What a dump. Makes you appreciate where you live.

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thefacts22 March 28 2014 at 12:52 PM

They are playing games, they know where the airplane is.

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1 reply
Sandra thefacts22 March 28 2014 at 3:15 PM

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh....Up. And so does RR and Boeing.....other dection devices that can not be turned off. Vietman had them on the radar and there was also a visual on the plane over an island going very low. Hummmm......where is the beginning information....??? All we have now is lots of money being spent searching the ocean in areas where they supposedly went---plenty of time to plant evidence, also. Whatever.....just a bit concerning as to where it went and who has it. Just saying.....

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sueat103 March 28 2014 at 12:54 PM

The pilot had big political problems with the Malaysian government and could be the reason this plane is gone to begin with.

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jenny` news March 28 2014 at 12:54 PM

I agree with the Chinese they should be pissed off.

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mamaava March 28 2014 at 2:31 PM

Movie Stars...ulg..what makes them think they're political geniuses? ? IF one is truly working on the behalf of a cause, they wouldn't complain during critical times...they would understand that in the heat of a problem, you keep your mouth shut instead of ADDING to the problem. Show offs have to be "front and center"...beware of them...America has our own...Sharpton and Jackson add to the list of undesirables who stir contention ..would to God they had been "just movie stars"...they're SUPPOSED to be MINISTERS OF GOD, offering hope!...Which God, I wonder???

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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