The Chinese government on Tuesday ruled out the possibility that any Chinese passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were terrorists or malcontents who tried to seize the plane. The Chinese ambassador to Malaysia also declared that his government had received no related threats from any Uighur separatist groups seeking independence for Xinjiang, in far western China, and he cleared a Uighur passenger on the missing flight of suspicion.
The findings, announced by Ambassador Huang Huikang, appear likely to add pressure on Malaysian investigators to establish whether the Malaysian captain of the plane, his junior officer or any other people on board with flying experience were behind the disappearance of the Boeing 777. Experts and officials have said that the plane’s sharp deviation from its original route on March 8 most likely involved deliberate intervention by an experienced aviator.
China has often alleged that Uighur groups seeking an independent Xinjiang homeland have orchestrated acts of terrorism. The ambassador’s blunt denial of any possible link to the plane’s disappearance was thus all the more telling. Chinese nationals made up about two-thirds of the 227 passengers on the jet, which disappeared while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. One of them was a Uighur artist, Maimaitijiang Abula.
“China has conducted a thorough investigation of all the passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, and has found no evidence of any destructive behavior,” Mr. Huang told journalists, according to an excerpt shown by Chinese television news.
“We can exclude the Chinese passengers of suspicion of engaging in acts of terror and destruction,” he said. He also explicitly ruled out suspicions about the artist, Mr. Abula, who was part of a government-approved delegation.
“Currently, there is no evidence to prove that he engaged in any terrorist or destructive activities,” Mr. Huang said. “And nor has any organization or individual made political demands to the government concerning this incident.”
China’s statement came after American officials disclosed that the sharp turn to the west that diverted the plane from its planned flight path was carried out using a computer system that was most likely programmed by someone in the cockpit who was knowledgeable about airplane systems.
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