China demanded that Malaysia "immediately" expand the search for the missing jet on Monday, as Australia announced it would to take the lead scouring the Indian Ocean for the Boeing 777.
Beijing's ambassador met Malaysia's foreign minister on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. About two-thirds of the passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines flight were Chinese.
"Search and rescue efforts have become even harder now, and the area is much bigger," China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told Reuters on Monday. "We hope that Malaysia can provide more thorough, accurate information to countries participating."
China’s media have been scathing of Malaysia’s hunt for the missing jet and have criticized conflicting information about the search.
In an op-ed in China’s state-run Global Times newspaper Yao Shujie, the head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, said that Malaysia “has lost authority and credibility” due to its chaotic response.
“The contradictory and piecemeal information Malaysia Airlines and its government have provided has made search efforts difficult and the entire incident even more mysterious,” the China Daily newspaper wrote in an editorial.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told his country’s parliament that he agreed to take the lead scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the "ill-fated aircraft" during a conversation Monday with Malaysia's leader.
"Australia will do its duty in this matter," Abbott told parliament. "We will do our duty to the families of the 230 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence, and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery."
Australia already has had two AP-3C Orion aircraft involved in the search, one of them looking north and west of the remote Cocos Islands. The southern Indian Ocean is the world's third-deepest and one of the most remote stretches of water in the world, with little radar coverage.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published March 17 2014, 3:05 AM