Tags: Finally | China | Agrees | Release | Plane

Finally, China Agrees to Release Plane

Monday, 28 May 2001 12:00 AM

"The United States would be permitted 'in principle' to send an Antonov-124 to pick up the EP-3 Aries II plane," ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said. The U.S. Navy EP-3 made an emergency landing April 1 on Hainan Island after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet. The Chinese plane went down and the pilot is presumed to have died.

The U.S. plane made what China called an "unauthorized landing," on Hainan. China held the 24-member crew for questioning for 11 days. U.S. technicians who inspected the plane early this month said it could fly with some mechanical adjustments. Washington had earlier expressed a hope that the aircraft could be repaired and flown home on its own, but China has refused to allow that to happen, hinting such a move would be embarrassing for Beijing.

State Department officials in Washington say there has been no final decision. In Washington, one 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 has flown south along China´s coast for the first time since the April 1 aerial 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.

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Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The United States would be permitted 'in principle' to send an Antonov-124 to pick up the EP-3 Aries II plane, ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said. The U.S. Navy EP-3 made an emergency landing April 1 on Hainan Island after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet. The Chinese...
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2001-00-28
Monday, 28 May 2001 12:00 AM
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