Evidence Pinpoints Culprit
China Thursday produced new evidence pointing to the fact that the US spy plane was the culprit of the April 1 mid-air collision.

During the just-concluded Sino-US talks, China presented a large amount of evidence proving that it was the US plane that rammed into the Chinese fighter jet and caused the crash of the Chinese jet and the loss of the Chinese pilot, said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Zhang showed reporters video footage that documented "dangerous and aggressive" flying by US pilots last year.

The pictures showed US fighter jets flying within sight of Chinese planes. At times the planes came within a few wingspans of each other. At one stage, an American pilot was seen taking a picture from the plane's cockpit. Zhang said the tape was shot last year off the Chinese coast.

She also showed a computer simulation of the US EP-3E spy plane turning into the path of the Chinese fighter jet, ending with double impacts between the two.

An analysis of paint scrapes and antennae breakage suffered by the US plane prove that it caused the collision, Zhang said, adding that the Chinese evidence is "just the tip of the iceberg".

"From this evidence, we can see clearly that the collision was caused by the US side," said the spokesperson.

US explanations that the Chinese pilot caused the crash are "totally baseless and riddled with holes," she said.

Her remarks came after China and the US wrapped up two days of talks Thursday over the incident.

The two sides agreed to keep in touch and solve the issue through diplomatic channels, Zhang told reporters.

She called the second day of talks "very frank" and the US chief negotiator described them as "productive".

"The sides have agreed to keep in touch, and future talks will be held at a time and place to be determined through diplomatic channels," Zhang said. The US Embassy refused to say whether the talks were finished, or give other details.

As for the US demand for the return of the spy plane, Zhang said the plane's fate will be determined by the outcome of China's investigation.

Deputy Undersecretary of Defence Peter F. Verga, leader of the eight-member US team, sounded a positive note after the meeting ended.

"We covered all the items that were on the agenda, and I found today's session to be productive," Verga said.

In comments later outside the US Embassy, Verga said the sides held different interpretations of the cause of the crash.

"We clearly disagree strongly on this issue," Verga said.

He said the US has proposed discussing ways of avoiding future incidents under a 1998 agreement to consult on maritime issues between their navies and air forces.

Verga also said that his delegation had provided the Chinese side with a concrete proposal for the return of the EP-3 plane.

In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer described the 90-minute session as businesslike and said the next meeting will discuss how to avoid future incidents.

As for the US demand that the Navy plane be returned, Fleischer said: "The Chinese officials have said they will continue to discuss the matter."

(China Daily Hong Kong Edition)


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