China yesterday called on the United States to adopt a "constructive" attitude towards today's negotiations on the mid-air collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a US reconnaissance plane.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said this at yesterday's regular press briefing.
According to Zhang, the talks, taking place in the compound of the Foreign Ministry, will focus on the cause of the collision, the United States stopping surveillance activities near the Chinese coast, measures that will prevent the recurrence of such incidents, and other related matters.
"The surveillance flights of US planes near China's coast are a threat to China's security interests,'' said Zhang.
The Chinese delegation, headed by the director-general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry Lu Shumin, will be made up of officials from the ministry and the Ministry of National Defence, said Zhang.
Sources with the US Embassy in Beijing said that the US delegation, which also includes government and military officials, will be headed by US Deputy Under-Secretary of Defence for Policy Support Peter F. Verga.
It is expected that the US side will urge for the prompt return of the EP-3 aircraft. The plane is now in China's Hainan Province, where it made an emergency landing after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea on April 1.
Zhang said that according to international and Chinese laws, China has the right to conduct a thorough investigation of the US spy plane, which rammed into and destroyed the Chinese plane, violated China's airspace and landed in Hainan.
"The Chinese side will decide how to handle the plane, based on the results of the investigation,'' said Zhang.
The 24 crew members of the plane left Hainan for home last Thursday after US Ambassador to China Joseph Prueher handed a letter to Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, saying that the US side is very sorry about the collision and the loss of life of the Chinese pilot Wang Wei.
However, Zhang noted that some senior US officials have recently adopted a tougher attitude towards China, saying that the US officials "mix up black and white and wish to free themselves from guilt.''
The sound development of bilateral ties needs the joint efforts of both countries, said Zhang, stressing that the development of such a relationship must be based on the three Sino-US joint communiques, particularly on the principles of respecting on each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
Concerning the Japanese Government's announcement that it plans to impose a temporary curb on vegetable imports from China, Zhang expressed the hope that bilateral trade will develop smoothly and said that disputes should be solved through consultations rather than restrictive measures.
Japan is China's largest trading partner. The Japanese Government announced yesterday that it would impose temporary curbs on Chinese scallions, shiitake mushrooms and®MDNM?tatami rushes starting from next Monday.
(China Daily 04/18/2001)