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Opinion: Ethiopian air crash should not impede African industrialization

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:05, March 15, 2019


The Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 on Sunday has triggered some pessimistic comments on Africa’s leading airline company and even the modernization process of the continent. Some even said that they would never risk their lives going to Africa.

It is undeniable that Boeing Company should bear the main responsibility. The captain of plane had over 8,000 flight hours, making it unlikely that it was the pilot’s fault. Boeing’s 737 MAX, which aims to dominate the international narrow-body aircraft market, was released in 2017 and delivered to Ethiopian Airlines last November. Only five months ago, in October 2018, the Indonesia’s Lion Air flight 610 crashed 10 minutes after takeoff, leading to 189 casualties. Just as Mary Schiavo, the former Inspector General of the US Department of Transportation said, the brand-new aircraft crashed twice in a year, a cause for concern that should prompt steps to prevent such tragedy from happening again.

Some 48 countries, including China, the US, Canada, and Australia have successively grounded the plane this week. It is therefore alarming to see that currently 350 of the aircrafts have been delivered and another 4,611 ones have been ordered worldwide.

It is the promotion of high-tech imperialism by developed countries that is the root cause of these tragedies. Specifically, these high-tech companies have absolute control over technology, which weakens bargaining power and even the use of products by developing countries. Although the aircraft involved in the tragedy have undergone maintenance a month ago, it is an indisputable fact that some developing countries are not fully aware of the importance of transportation infrastructure maintenance and personnel maintenance training. High-tech companies such as Boeing are therefore not fully prepared to serve developing countries. China, on the other hand, understands the market better, given its own companies’ characteristics. In the past years, China’s aircraft models, such as Modern Ark 60 (MA 60) and Y-12, have not only helped connect African countries across the continent, but China has also offered training services to facilitate operation. Furthermore, developed countries have the right to make final decisions. For example, according to unwritten rules, the decision to ground a plane should be led by the regulatory body of the country that certified the aircraft for operation. Despite this, China’s decision to ground the 737 MAX one day after the air crash has triggered controversies in some Western countries.

To impede such fatal accidents, developing countries should work together and improve themselves to break the monopoly of discourse power of developed countries. Only South-South cooperation will help the rise of developing countries, and only through this type of cooperation can they finally make their voices heard and advocate their own demands in political and economic governance.

(Opinion by Song Wei, associate researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Luewen, Bianji)

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