China has not paid its fair portion of the costs in the search efforts for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, an Australian official has said. The two countries, along with Malaysia, reportedly worked out a deal to split expenses related to the ongoing search for evidence of the plane, which disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean in March 2014. Estimated to be the most expensive in aviation history, the search for the missing jetliner was projected in 2014 to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Malaysia, Australia and China agreed to split the costs of the search, Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said in March. The Malaysian government has so far contributed $40 million to the search, while Australia has spent $76 million. Malaysia is expected to eventually match Australia's spending.
Flight MH370 was carrying 239 people when it crashed. Of those, 153 were from China. Six were Australian and 38 were Malaysian. For more than a year, no physical evidence of the plane turned up. In July, however, a piece that appeared to be a wing part from a Boeing 777 -- the same model as the missing jetliner -- washed up on Reunion Island, east of Madagascar. The Malaysian prime minister later confirmed it was from Flight MH370, although other authorities withheld judgment.
Search and rescue teams deployed immediately following the crash included planes, ships and submarines, the BBC reported. Other needs and services ratchet up the cost of the search, including fuel, spare parts and personnel, and typically, a country foots the bill of the forces it contributes. Australia sent one vessel that cost more than $400,000 a day to operate.
China sent ships from its navy early on, but has reportedly refused to contribute funds to other aspects of the search. A total of 26 countries contributed to the search after the crash, including Vietnam and the United States.
“China has not contributed resources or equipment to the underwater search,” a spokesman for Truss's office told an Australian news site.
Some analysts suggested that China had nothing to lose by refusing to pay up.
“I would say that they don’t see a political cost from not giving a donation,” Justin Hastings, an expert on international relations at the University of Sydney, in Australia, said, News.com.au reported. Legally, China is under no obligation to contribute, he added, noting, “They don’t necessarily want to set a precedent that leads to a financial obligation, and they’ve probably calculated it’s not going to overly harm them.”