BEIJING, March 12 China extended a rare gesture
of goodwill towards Japan on Wednesday, offering thanks - albeit
indirectly - for an offer of help to look for a Malaysia
Airlines aircraft which when missing on a flight to
Beijing over the weekend.
China's ties with Japan have long been poisoned by what
China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of
parts of China before and during World War Two.
Beijing's anger over the past is never far from the surface,
and relations have deteriorated sharply over the past 18 or so
months because of a bitter dispute over a chain of uninhabited
islands in the East China Sea.
Japan announced officially on Wednesday that it would send
four military planes to help in the search for the missing
Malaysia Airlines plane.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he was
aware of the news, though did not know if Japanese forces had
already set off.
"I believe that in the face of such an incident, the
international community, whether Malaysia, China or neighbouring
countries, have a shared concern," Qin told a daily news
"If other countries can, and are willing, to send ships to
participate in search work, we welcome it and express our
The massive search operation involving ships and aircraft
from 10 countries is spread out over the Gulf of Thailand and
the South China Sea, which lie between Malaysia and Vietnam, and
in the Strait of Malacca extending into the Andaman Sea.
"There is an urgent need for help as soon as possible. So we
hope to use the large amount of experience that the Japanese
Self Defence Forces have in search operations to do everything
we can to search for this plane," Japanese Defence Minister
Itsunori Onodera said at a meeting to officially dispatch the
planes to Malaysia.
Japan's Defence Ministry on Tuesday sent an advance team of
four Self Defence Forces members to see what could to done to
help in the investigation of fate of Flight MH370, which
vanished on Saturday with 239 people on board.
Japan added it would send at least one C-130 transport on
Wednesday and another three planes were scheduled to leave soon,
including two P3C surveillance planes.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Chris
Meyers in TOKYO)