Efforts Needed From Both Sides to Solve the Collision Incident
In accordance with relevant understanding between the two sides, China and the United States held talks on the April 1 incident in which a US reconnaissance plane rammed and destroyed a Chinese fighter jet, and other related issues, on April 18 and April 19 in Beijing.

During the talks, Lu Shumin, head of the Chinese delegation and director of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, pointed out that on April 1 the US reconnaissance plane bumped into and destroyed a Chinese military jet, causing the death of Chinese pilot Wang Wei, in airspace near China's island province of Hainan. Later the US plane intruded into China's territorial airspace and landed at a Chinese military airport without permission, he said.

"This is a serious incident that violates international law and infringes upon China's sovereignty," said Lu.

Lu said that the basic cause of the incident is that the United States, disregarding solemn representations by the Chinese side on many occasions, has for many years frequently conducted reconnaissance flights in the airspace close to Chinese coastal areas.

"The U.S. should bear full responsibility for the incident," Lu said, stressing that China demands that the United States make explanations to the Chinese government and people, stop reconnaissance flights in the airspace close to Chinese coastal areas and take effective measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.

Lu pointed out that after the incident the Chinese side, taking into consideration the general interests of the China-US relations, has handled the incident in a sober manner and with restraint in line with relevant international laws and Chinese laws.

Out of humanitarianism, the Chinese side made proper arrangements for the 24 people aboard the US plane and allowed US diplomats in China to meet with them for many times, said Lu.

However, Lu said, the US side adopted a completely different attitude towards the incident, Lu said. Especially after the Chinese side allowed the people aboard the US plane to leave China, some ranking U.S. officials, disregarding facts and confounding right and wrong, made a lot of highly irresponsible remarks on the incident, in an attempt to shift the responsibility onto the Chinese side, Lu said. Some of them even threatened to link the incident with other issues involving China-U.S. relations, he said.

This is what the Chinese side firmly opposes and cannot accept, Lu said, pointing out that the words and deeds of the US side offer no help to resolve this incident and will only further damage bilateral relations.

Lu said the Chinese people love peace, but China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity allow no infringement.

China has always held that state-to-state relations should be based on the basic norms of international relations, including mutual respect of each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, on-aggression against each other and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, he said.

China values China-US relations and it has always dedicated itself to developing a healthy and stable relations between the two countries, Lu said.

History shows that the development of a Sino-US relationship of friendly cooperation is in the interests of the people of the two countries and is of vital significance to maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole, Lu said.

Lu said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, great progress has been made in a wide range of fields in terms of bilateral relations.

"Such a situation is not easy to get, and it needs efforts from both sides to safeguard," Lu stressed.

The Chinese side hopes that a proper solution will be found to the incident and does not want to see any further harm on Sino-US relations due to the suspension of the issue. And the Chinese side holds that it relies crucially on the U.S. side as to whether such a hope will be realized.

The US side must fully understand the seriousness of this incident, treat the solemn stand and demand of the Chinese side with a real and earnest show of sincerity, take a practical and constructive stance and make an active response to the request of the Chinese side, in order to find a proper solution to the incident.

Peter F. Verga, leader of the US team and deputy undersecretary of defense, said the United States has not taken China as an enemy and it is also the aspiration of the US side to develop constructive relations with China, adding that the US side hopes to see an early solution to the collision incident.

Verga said that the US side is not responsible for the collision, and defended the US for sending reconnaissance planes to the airspace over the waters close to China's coast on the excuse that the US planes enjoy flight freedom.

Lu refuted such allegations, pointing out that the incident happened in the airspace over China's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that any flight over the EEZ of another nation must not violate the general rules of the international law, nor is it allowed to infringe on the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of this nation or pose a threat to its national security, peace and order.

The activities of the U.S. side in the airspace over the waters close to China's coast have seriously harmed China's national security and national defense interests and gone far beyond the limit of the freedom of flight stipulated in the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea. These activities are rather an abuse of the flight freedom, Lu said.

The U.S. plane was not taking a normal flight in the airspace over the waters off China's coast, but was carrying out reconnaissance activities by collecting information from the Chinese side, according to Lu.

Such military activities of the United States in a time of peace are threats to China's national security, peace and order; provocations against China's national sovereignty; and violations of the basic principles of the international law on mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity between different nations, Lu stressed.

The Chinese side showed a huge amount of evidence during the negotiation, which fully proved that it was the US plane that rammed into and destroyed the Chinese fighter jet and that it was the US side that caused the incident.

Lu stressed that the US side should bear full responsibilities for the incident as the facts are manifest, irrefutable and cannot be denied by the US side.

The Chinese government and people demand that the US side stop sending spy planes to the airspace over the waters close to China's coast to carry out reconnaissance flights, he said.

"We hope the U.S. side will seriously treat China's solemn stand and correct its erroneous behavior," Lu said.

It is learned that the two sides have agreed to keep in contact for handling the plane collision incident and related issues.

(Xinhua 04/20/2001)


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