China urges Malaysia to do more in tracing missing plane

China has asked Malaysian authorities to step up search efforts and investigation into the missing Malaysia airlines flight that disappeared on Saturday, saying it had become a race against time.

A massive search and rescue operation involving nine countries has so far found no trace of the plane or the 239 people on board – of whom 151 were Chinese. But relatives of the Chinese passengers said they were frustrated with all sides of the rescue effort (See: Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 vanishes over South China Sea).

In a telephone conversation with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Premier Li Keqiang urged Kuala Lumpur to step up investigations with all-out efforts and try their best to comfort the families of the passengers on board the flight.

But on Monday morning it was Chinese government officials who were beleaguered when they visited the east Beijing hotel where families and friends of the passengers are staying. They were confronted by relatives who said the Chinese government was doing little to help them.

Reports said some angry family members hurled plastic bottles at the officials, calling them "useless government".

Later in the day, the foreign ministry tried to calm tempers down by saying that the government was pushing Malaysian government to do more.

"China has requested the Malaysian side to step up efforts and investigation and provide information to China in a timely fashion," foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang told a regular press briefing today.

He said the Malaysian side was mainly responsible for search and rescue missions and China was cooperating with them in every possible way.

"We hope that the Malaysian side will fully understand the emergent mood of the Chinese family members of the passengers," Qin said.

He said the task force from China arrived in Malaysia in the afternoon to assist local authorities in investigation.

Flight MH370 vanished from radars en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, leading to obvious suspicions of a terrorist attack.

Earlier, the Malaysian authorities said they had identified one of two men now known to have been travelling on the missing plane on stolen passports.

Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said they could not reveal his identity, but confirmed the man was not Malaysian.

International police agency Interpol has confirmed the passengers were travelling with Italian and Austrian passports stolen in Thailand years ago.

At a news conference on Monday, Malaysia's civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the two men were "not Asian-looking men". But he insisted that all security protocols had been complied with before the plane took off.