In the absence of any hard evidence about the fate of the plane, speculation will endure and rumors will continue to grow. This is especially true in China, where official restrictions on media create an environment where rumors – even truly outlandish ones – can thrive.
The various theories are of course interesting in their own right. They also reveal important trends in the popular Chinese imagination. China is locked in a bitter territorial dispute where the plane went missing, including with the governments of both Vietnam and Malaysia – thus the theories blaming the Vietnamese or the Malaysians themselves. China is also increasingly concerned about the growing American military presence in the Pacific, the threat of terrorism, and domestic political intrigue. The persistent rumors about Malaysia Air Flight 370 provide a rare window for outsiders into the popular anxieties of contemporary China.