China has urged Malaysia to keep to its promise and continue investigations into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, even as Chinese relatives of passengers staged a protest outside the airline's office yesterday.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry's comments came after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak declared early yesterday morning that a piece of a plane's wing that washed up on an Indian Ocean island last week was "conclusively" part of the wreckage of MH370.
"The Chinese government requests the Malaysian side to act on its commitment, continue the investigation into the cause of the accident, provide the families with necessary help and uphold their lawful rights and interests," ministry spokesman Hua Chunyin said in a statement yesterday.
The Beijing-bound aircraft vanished on March 8 last year after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. Of the 239 passengers and crew on board, 153 were Chinese nationals.
But Chinese family members reacted in anger and with scepticism to the latest claims, livid that they were not informed about the announcement beforehand and had to find out from the news.
DEBRIS FROM MH370
Today, 515 days since the plane disappeared, it is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that an international team of experts have conclusively confirmed that the aircraft debris found on Reunion Island is indeed from MH370.
MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK, in a televised statement broadcast early yesterday in Malaysia
If they want to claim that the plane has been found, they better show it and prove it to us; if not, we'll never believe them.
MADAM DAI SHUQIN, whose sister Dai Shuling was on board. She demanded that MAS help arrange a trip to Reunion.
BACK TO SQUARE ONE
We're just getting over things and, you know, the kids were starting to accept it... then this happens and they're back to square one.
MR GEORGE BURROWS, from Queensland, whose son was on the flight
Some also accused the Malaysian leader of rushing to conclusions when investigators from other countries were more tentative in linking the debris with the ill-fated flight. French prosecutors, for instance, stopped short of declaring certainty, saying only that there was a "very strong presumption".
More than 20 family members held a protest outside the MAS office in Beijing yesterday, accusing the airline of hiding the truth in a "political conspiracy". They believe their loved ones could still be alive and called on President Xi Jinping to help them obtain justice.
Amid police presence, Chinese next of kin held placards that said "Malaysia hides truth" and "We'll never give up".
"I don't want Malaysia to continue with this lie, I don't believe the debris is from MH370. I will fight for my son to the end. I believe in the Communist Party and this country," Madam Bao Lanfang, 63, said as she knelt outside the building's lobby begging the media for help in uncovering the truth. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild were on the flight.
Madam Dai Shuqin, 62, whose sister was on the plane, said family members want MAS to help arrange a trip to the French island of Reunion and to Toulouse so they can see the debris for themselves.
"That was MAS' promise to us from the start, that they'll take us to the wreckage when it's found."
MAS officials are expected to meet Chinese family members in Beijing today.
In Kuala Lumpur, Mr Najib's announcement also brought little relief to some relatives, who want concrete proof and answers.
"Now, I want to know where the main body of the plane is so that we can take out the passengers and get the black box so we can know what happened. Only that, for us, will be full closure," Ms Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of MH370 chief steward Patrick Gomes, was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
Said Mr Lee Khim Fatt, whose wife was a flight attendant: "I'm still not satisfied. There are still so many questions left unanswered, so many holes in the puzzle."
The sister of MH370 passenger Paul Weeks of New Zealand said the confirmation ended "a week of turmoil". "We've had 17 months of nothing... so actually finding something is the first step towards pinpointing where it is," Ms Sara Weeks told the Fairfax media group.