China-Malaysia ties not to be affected by missing plane incident: former Malaysian PM Mahathir

The relationship between China and Malaysia would not be affected by the recent missing MH370 flight incident, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said here Monday in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

He believed that the Chinese government had been very " knowledgeable" about the information of the search and rescue operation, adding "they know that Malaysia is also trying its best. "

Mahathir said it was understandable that the relatives of those on board the plane were very concerned and emotional over the incident, but he said the relationship between the two governments "will not be affected" by the mishap.

The former prime minister justified the efforts made by the Malaysian government in dealing with the incident, saying they were doing "everything possible."

"In the case of Air France, it took two years to find the black box," Mahathir said, adding that the MH370 incident was even more mysterious. He said the plane disappeared without much information, which had never happened before "to anybody, any country, any plane."

"For the Malaysian, they have done everything they can. They don't have any reason not to tell other people what they have discovered. They want to solve this problem, because it is important for Malaysia," he said, adding that the government had released everything it had.

He believed that the search would take a long time as so far there had been no clear indications where the plane was.

Regarding the joint international effort in the search operation, Mahathir said, "the fact that 26 countries are involved in the search is not just because of humanitarian reason, it is because they need to know what happened."

"Because if this can happen to the plane, it may happen to other planes. So they must know how it happened, so they can ensure that it will not happen again," he said.

Commenting on China's role in the search operation, he complimented the Chinese government's cooperation, saying China had sent their ships and aircraft to do everything they could.

Talking about the effect of the incident of MH370 flight on Malaysia's economy, he said, "Malaysia's economy will be slightly affected at first, but not later on."

He believed that Malaysia would continues to receive a lot of tourists and Malaysian Airlines would be largely used as before.

As the year 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations, Mahathir said," in the last 40 years, China has advanced as the second biggest economy in the world and this is important to Malaysia."

"Malaysia is the biggest trading partner for China in the Southeast Asia, but we can do better than that", he said, adding that the two countries need to have greater cooperation in many other fields.