The politics of Malaysian flight 370: China and US vying for technological dominance?

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Malasian Airlines
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A little over two weeks ago Malaysian Airlines flight 370 went missing and has captivated the attention of the world. This is the first time that I can recall in my life hearing of a plane that just went missing, bringing back memories of the mysterious Bermuda triangle. What is even more suspicious is that even with the advances in flight and other technology, 16 days later we are still unable to say what happened to the plane.

And even though it is not confirmed if it went into the Indian Ocean or not, the reports about the difficulty of the search is a stark reminder that even with our significant technological advances, we have still been unable to conquer the ocean here on earth, while we know so much about space, In fact man may know more about space than what happens on the bottom of the ocean.

My own view is that there was no terrorist action involved and that what we might be dealing with is a “zombie” flight, where some event happened that incapacitated the pilots and caused the auto pilot to fly the aircraft in the direction of the Indian Ocean until it ran out of fuel and went into the Ocean. One reason why I believe the aircraft is in the ocean, and not on land, is that the satellite technology we have would have picked up anything on land a long time ago, particularly the military technology.

Even with this situation monopolizing the news, flying still remains possibly the safest form of travel.

Another point of view on this event, however, is the apparent politics behind it.

The fact is that the search for the missing aircraft has turned into a scenario where countries seem to be competing with each other to find out what happened, from the governments to the media houses. The two main countries in the search are China and the US, and some experts believe that China may actually be releasing the information in bits and pieces because they don’t want the world to know of their capabilities, and the US is also tying to prove that they can solve the mystery.

Just think, if the Chinese were to locate the aircraft before the US, then what would it say about the capabilities of China, which has also been gaining steady ground as an economic powerhouse, and is busy acquiring many assets worldwide. In fact the common belief is that China will one day be the new super power.

It therefore may be critical for the US to be the ones to find the missing plane, and cement itself as the world leader. One could say that the reason why China is taking such an active role is because 75% of the passengers were Chinese, but another reason might simply be the need to show their technological capabilities, which are long established in the US.

At the level of the media house everyone's media house wants to be the one to report first on what actually happened. So they have many different perspectives, from experts. So here again there is a race to the finish, or should say the start.

Dennis Chung is a chartered accountant and is currently Vice President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica. He has written two books: Charting Jamaica’s Economic and Social Development – 2009; and Achieving Life’s Equilibrium – balancing health, wealth, and happiness for optimal living – 2012. His books are available on He blogs at He can be reached at

This article is published with permission. It was published on Dennis Chung's blog,, on Saturday, March 22,, 2014.


Dennis Chung