Chinese court starts hearing lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines over missing flight MH370

Nov 26, 2023, 7:27 PM

File photo: A 41-year-old man who police say posed as a teenage boy on social media has been charge...

File photo: A 41-year-old man who police say posed as a teenage boy on social media has been charged with convincing a teen girl to send him explicit pictures, and then sending those pictures to one of her friends when she no longer wanted to talk to him. (Pixabay)


(CNN) — For nearly 10 years, Jiang Hui has been searching for answers as to why the plane carrying his 70-year-old mother back from vacation in Malaysia vanished without trace.

Jiang’s mother, Jiang Cuiyun, was one of 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 when it deviated from its scheduled path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and disappeared over the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014.

To this date, the fate of MH370 remains one of history’s greatest aviation mysteries, and Jiang has never given up on his quest to find out what happened.

On Monday, a Chinese court will begin hearing claims for compensation for families of MH370 passengers, who say the disaster not only deprived them of their loved ones, but also plunged some into financial distress.

“Almost 10 years on, the family members (who refused to accept settlement offers) did not receive any apology or a penny of compensation,” Jiang, 50, told CNN in an interview ahead of the hearings at the Chaoyang District People’s Court in Beijing, more than seven years after the lawsuits were initially filed.

“In fact, my mood is very complicated now. There is both a sense of relief and a deep feeling of helplessness.”

Jiang is suing Maylasia Airlines, its insurer, Boeing and the manufacturer of the plane’s engine – companies he believes should be held responsible under Chinese law for damage occured during transportation. His demands include compensation, a formal apology, and the resumption of psychological assistance to family members, as well as the creation of a fund to continue searches for the plane.

About 40 Chinese families are taking these companies to court with varying but largely overlapping appeals, with hearings expected to last until December 5, Jiang said. His own case will be heard on Friday, he added.

Of the more than 200 people aboard the flight, 153 were Chinese nationals.

“The complete lack of legal remedies over the past decade has made our painful lives even more unbearable,” Jiang said.

In a statement to CNN on the court hearings, Boeing said: “Our thoughts continue to be with those who were on board MH370 and their loved ones.”

CNN has also reached out to Malaysia Airlines, Allianz and Rolls-Royce for comment.

Legal uncertainty

It’s unclear what enforcement power the Chinese court can wield over the defendants if it rules in favor of Jiang and the other plantiffs. All of them are international companies headquartered outside China, though Malaysia Airlines, Boeing and Roll-Royce have offices in China.

Similar cases brought in the United States by the victims’ families have been dismissed on the grounds that these lawsuits should be handled by the Malaysian legal system.

In Malaysia, two young boys who lost their father on the flight sued Malaysia Airlines for breach of contract and the Malaysian government for negligence in 2014. The case was settled out of court the next year.

In China, families who signed a settlement agreement with Malaysian Airlines received 2.5 million yuan ($350,000) in compensation. Only a few dozen Chinese families signed initially, but over the years more have opted to settle.

By March 2021, about 90 families had still declined to settle, but the number halved after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Jiang.

Now, only about 40 families have not settled, according to Jiang, who said they refused to sign the agreement because it removed all responsibility from the airline and the Malaysian government.

Three years of Covid lockdowns and other stringent control measures wreaked havoc on the Chinese economy, leaving many families struggling to make ends meet.

“On our long journey seeking the truth, many families fell into a tough livelihood or even survival situation. They settled as a last resort to ensure their lives,” Jiang said. “But no matter having settled or not, our ultimate goal remains the same – which is to find the plane and our loved ones.”

2018 report by Malaysian authorities concluded the investigation team was “unable to determine the real cause of the disappearance of MH370.” Human interference or error were more likely the cause of the plane’s disappearance than an aircraft or system malfunction, the report found.

The lack of conclusive evidence led to various theories and speculation about what happened to the flight, and Jiang said some family members still believe their loved ones are alive. He says he’s keeping an open mind – and will accept any outcome, as long as there is evidence.

While the jetliner was never found, pieces of apparent debris have washed up on islands in the southern Indian Ocean and the shores of Africa – suggesting the plane had broken up.

Years-long quest

Jiang’s persistence was driven by a key motivation – the urge to do something for his mother, who enjoyed traveling in her retirement.

“I’m at an age where I should pay filial piety to my mother, but I no longer have the chance to do that. So, finding her is the only way I can be filial to her,” he said.

Before the MH370 tragedy, Jiang was an ambitious manager at the Beijing office of a state-owned communications company. But one year after the flight went missing, he left the company and has since focused his time and energy on finding the plane.

Over the years, he has visited search teams in Australia and roamed the remote shores of Mauritius, Madagascar and Réunion – a French island in the Indian Ocean – to scour for the Boeing jetliner’s debris.

In Beijing, he has held regular gatherings with family members of other flight victims to discuss the next step in seeking answers and justice for their loved ones’ disappearance.

“I used to get completely immersed in my job, but now I can truly understand what’s the meaning of life, and what are its most precious things,” he said.

“If I can push for any progress (in finding MH370), or I can try my best till the end, I would feel very gratified and happy – and such happiness is beyond comparison with earning a higher salary.”

KSL 5 TV Live


An artist's impression depicts a dead white dwarf star and its magnetic field, which is usually inv...

Ashley Strickland, CNN

Dead ‘cannibal’ star spotted with metal scar after consuming part of a planet

Astronomers have spotted an unusual sign that a dead star feasted on a fragment of a planet orbiting it: a metal scar on the star’s surface.

41 minutes ago

Alexander Smirnov leaves court in Las Vegas on February 20, 2024. (CNN)...

Cheri Mossburg and Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

Ex-FBI informant Smirnov will remain in jail while he awaits trial, judge rules

Ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov will remain in jail while he awaits trial, a federal judge in California ruled Monday.

5 hours ago

Kenneth Mitchell, here in 2018, has died. (Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)...

Megan Thomas

Kenneth Mitchell, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Marvel’ actor, dead at 49

Kenneth Mitchell, an actor who appeared in the series "Star Trek: Discovery" and Marvel's "Captain Marvel," has died. He was 49.

6 hours ago

The United States Supreme Court building is seen as in Washington, U.S., in October 2023.

Brian Fung, CNN

Supreme Court hears landmark cases that could upend what we see on social media

The US Supreme Court is weighing whether states such as Texas and Florida should have the power to control what posts platforms can remove from their services.

7 hours ago

Kathy Brandel and Ralph Hendry, from Virginia, were spending the winter cruising the Eastern Caribb...

Sharif Paget, Chris Boyette and Polo Sandoval, CNN

2 Americans believed dead after yacht allegedly hijacked in Grenada

The family of two Americans who may have been killed after prison escapees allegedly hijacked their yacht in Granada are clinging to hope the couple might be found alive.

1 day ago

Placards bearing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza are lifted during a rally calling for t...

Camila DeChalus, Sam Fossum and Alex Marquardt, CNN

US says ‘understanding’ reached at Gaza hostage talks but negotiations continue

Negotiators have come to an “understanding” on the broad contours of a potential deal to release hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN Sunday.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Chinese court starts hearing lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines over missing flight MH370