Tags: China | Confirms | Recon | Plane | Deal | Warns | U.S.

China Confirms Recon Plane Deal, Warns U.S. on Flights

Tuesday, 29 May 2001 12:00 AM

"All along we have been opposed to reconnaissance flights along the Chinese coast, we hope the U.S. side will learn from this lesson and will change its practice," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said during a news conference.

Zhu said there was no date set for the departure of the EP-3 aircraft that has been at a Chinese airbase on Hainan Island since an April 1 in-flight collision with a Chinese fighter jet.

"When that issue will be resolved depends on the two sides, particularly whether the U.S. side will adopt a positive and pragmatic attitude," Zhu said.

Chinese and U.S. officials both said Monday that an agreement had been made "in principle" to have the aircraft shipped out of China in pieces on a chartered commercial Antanov 124 cargo plane.

Officials from both sides have said that technical details of the deal still need to be discussed, including organizing a team that would dismantle the aircraft, which could take some time.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said they want to fly the plane home after a U.S. team of mechanics said it would be possible after inspecting the plane earlier this month. However, Beijing has made clear that it would not allow the plane to depart on its own hinting that it would be a further embarrassment to the Chinese government.

"It is not just a technical issue, it has to do with the nature of this plane and the site where it landed," Zhu said, referring to what Beijing says was an unauthorized landing by the plane on Chinese territory and at a military air base.

In Washington, a senior State Department official told United Press International, "We are discussing a number of ideas, but there is no definitive plan at this point. We will continue working with the Chinese in terms of the technical details of returning the plane."

Meanwhile, a U.S. reconnaissance plane flew south along China's coast for the first time since the April 1 collision, The Washington Times reported Monday.

"We did fly south a couple of days ago," one defense official said of the RC-135 flight. The RC-135 is a militarized Boeing 707 airliner backed with electronic eavesdropping equipment.

The aerial shadowing off northern China occurred within the past two weeks. Chinese F-6 jet fighters, versions of the Russian MiG-19, monitored an EP-3E surveillance flight some 70 miles off China's northern coast, The Times said, quoting Pentagon officials.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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All along we have been opposed to reconnaissance flights along the Chinese coast, we hope the U.S. side will learn from this lesson and will change its practice, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said during a news conference. Zhu said there was no date set...
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2001-00-29
Tuesday, 29 May 2001 12:00 AM
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