"The officials at ground control were cool-headed," one source told the
South China Morning Post. "Zhao could have shot the plane down, but that
would have meant the death of 24 U.S. airmen. It would have been an act of
war, whereas the collision was an accident."
The newspaper said Zhao then forced the heavily damaged EP-3 plane, which
tried to fly away from China, to land at Hainan. It was not
clear if ground control officials ordered the maneuvers that led to the
plane's landing in Chinese territory.
Though the U.S. plane was flying in international airspace, China claims the Navy plane veered suddenly into a Chinese fighter,
sending it plunging into the South China Sea. China is still searching for
the pilot, Wang Wei.
President Bush sent a letter of sympathy expressing his "regret" to Ruan
Guoqin, the wife of the missing pilot. A letter purportedly from her, sent last week to the White House, called Bush "too cowardly to voice an
Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.