Chinese FM Spokesman Gives Full Account of Air Collisiongreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
April 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman
Zhu Bangzao Tuesday night gave a full account of the recent mid-
air collision between U.S. and Chinese military planes, and stated
China's stance on the incident.
Speaking to the media, Zhu said the U.S. surveillance plane
rammed and damaged a Chinese jet fighter, labeling the incident an
encroachment upon Chinese sovereignty and airspace.
On the morning of April 1, a U.S. EP-3 electronic
reconnaissance plane flew southeast of China's Hainan Island, he
At 8:36 Beijing time, the U.S. plane approached the airspace
over China's territorial waters off the city of Sanya to conduct
surveillance. A unit of the Chinese Navy sent two F-8 fighters to
follow and monitor the U.S. plane, Zhu said.
At 9:07, the Chinese planes made a normal flight in an area 104
kilometers from the baseline of Chinese territorial waters. The
course of the Chinese planes was at 110 degrees, and the U.S.
plane was flying parallel with the right side of the Chinese
planes in the same direction.
The U.S. plane suddenly veered at a wide angle towards the
Chinese planes, which were closer to baseline of the Chinese side.
The U.S. plane's nose and left wing rammed the tail of one of the
Chinese planes, causing it to lose control and plunge into the sea,
The pilot Wang Wei made parachuted from his stricken plane,
while the other Chinese plane returned safely and landed at 9:23,
The U.S. plane entered Chinese airspace without approval, and
landed at Lingshui Airport in Hainan at 9:33. The Chinese side
made proper arrangements for the 24 crew members aboard, in a
spirit of humanitarianism.
After the incident, relevant Chinese departments immediately
sent search-and-rescue planes and ships to look for pilot Wang Wei.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin, deeply concerned about Wang's
safety, gave repeated instructions to search for and rescue him at
any cost, Zhu said.
Up till 14:00 hours April 3, a total 37 planes and 29 boats had
been sent to collision area. The search and rescue mission is
continuing, Zhu said.
It should be pointed out that it was proper and in accordance
with international law for Chinese military fighters to follow and
monitor the U.S. military surveillance plane within airspace over
China's exclusive economic waters, Zhu said.
By veering and ramming the Chinese jet at a wide angle, against
flight rules, the U.S. surveillance caused the crash of the
Chinese jet, he pointed out.
The surveillance flight conducted by the U.S. aircraft overran
the scope of "free over-flight" according to international law, he
said. The move also violated the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea, which stipulates that any flight in airspace above
another nation's exclusive economic zone should respect the rights
of the country concerned, he said. Thus, the U.S. plane's actions
posed a serious threat to the national security of China, he said.
Meanwhile, such an action was also against the consensus
reached by the two countries in May last year on avoiding risky
military actions in sea areas. According to the consensus, when
military airborne vehicles encounter each other in international
airspace, both sides should properly observe the current international law and practices, and take into consideration the
flight safety of the other side so as to avoid dangerous approaches and possible collisions, Zhu said.
He also pointed out that after the incident the U.S. surveillance plane intrude China's airspace and landed at a
Chinese airport without permission from the Chinese side. He
labeled this move "a further violation of the regulations set
forth by international and Chinese law, and thus constituting a
gross encroachment upon China's sovereignty and territorial
airspace," he added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged a solemn representation and
protest to the U.S. government on April 1 concerning the U.S.
plane's act of clashing into the Chinese warplane and infringing
upon China's sovereignty and airspace, he said.
The Foreign Ministry has pointed out that the U.S. should bear
full responsibility for the incident, and demanded that the U.S.
government make an explanation to the Chinese government and
people on the U.S. plane's actions, Zhu said.
China also demanded that the U.S.take effective measures to
prevent such an incident from recurring, Zhu added.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged a solemn representation
once again on April 2.
In response to statements from the U.S. side in recent days,
Zhu stressed the following points:
First, the U.S. military surveillance plane violated the
principle of "free overflight," because the incident incurred by
the U.S. plane happened in airspace near China's coastal area and
China's exclusive economic waters, he noted.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea and general international law, all countries enjoy the freedom
of overflight in the exclusive economic waters of a nation, he
said. However, the Convention and general international law
stipulate at the same time that the rights of the coastal country
should be considered, he added.
The U.S. surveillance plane's reconnaissance acts were targeted
at China in the airspace over China's coastal area and its flight
was far beyond the scope of "overflight", and thus abused the
principle of overflight freedom, the spokesman stressed.
The U.S. plane's action also posed a serious threat to China's
security interests, so that it was right for the Chinese military
planes to monitor the U.S. spy plane for the sake of China's state
security, he said.
The U.S. plane, in violation of flight rules, caused the crash,
so the U.S. side should bear full responsibility for the incident,
Second, it was illegal for the U.S. military surveillance plane
to enter China's territorial space and to land at a Chinese
airport without China's approval, and so the U.S. plane's action
constituted an infringement upon China's sovereignty and territorial space, Zhu said.
According to international law and relevant Chinese laws, China
enjoys sovereignty over its territorial space, he stated.
According to the 12th article of the Law on China's Territorial
Waters and Their Contiguous Areas, foreign aircraft may enter the
airspace over China's territorial waters only in accordance with
agreements or regulations signed between the government of the
People's Republic of China (PRC) and the governments of foreign
countries. Otherwise, such entry should be approved or accepted by
the government of the PRC or its authorized organizations, said
The 3rd article of the Convention on International Civil
Aviation adopted in 1944 clearly states that the military aircraft
of a country may not fly over another country's territory or land
on its territory without permission, he said.
The U.S. military surveillance plane did not issue any request
or notice to the Chinese side to enter Chinese airspace or land on
Chinese territory during the whole process, Zhu said.
However, facts show that after the collision the U.S. plane had
the time and technical ability to issue such a request or notice,
he said, adding that the U.S. plane failed to do so.
By entering China's airspace and landing at a Chinese airport
without informing the Chinese side, the U.S. plane has violated
the relevant regulations of international conventions and Chinese
laws, and its actions constituted serious infringements upon China
's sovereignty and airspace, the spokesman said.
Third, Zhu said, it is a fact that the U.S. surveillance plane
rammed the Chinese warplane. After the collision, the front part
of the nose of the U.S. jet dropped off, and the airscrew of its
second left engine was deformed, evidence that the U.S. plane
veered into, approached and collided abruptly with the Chinese
plane, Zhu said, adding that this can not be denied.
He urged the U.S. side to face up to the facts, bear full
responsibility, apologize to China, and not seek any excuse to
shirk its responsibility.
Fourth, either according to international law or Chinese
domestic laws, China has the right to investigate the plane which
caused all this trouble, and the incident as a whole, as China is
the victim, the country where the incident occurred and the
country where the culprit aircraft landed, Zhu noted.
Taking into consideration the suddenness and complexity of the
incident, China needs sufficient time to make the investigation,
Even under such circumstances, he said, the Chinese Foreign
Ministry still urgently tabled a request to meet with the U.S.
ambassador to China, and lodged a representation with him at 9:30
pm on the evening of the day the incident took place.
Zhu pointed out that the U.S. plane is not a civilian aircraft,
but a military spy plane that illegally entered Chinese territory,
violated both international and Chinese domestic laws, and posed a
serious threat to Chinese sovereignty and airspace, he noted.
The spokesman said that the U.S. warplane entered China
illegally, so it can not enjoy immunity, for only aircraft which
enter China in accordance with the law can be protected by law.
The Chinese side reserves the right to lodge more representations in line with the investigation results, Zhu noted.
Fifth, the most urgent matter for the U.S. side is not to table
all manner of requests, but to make a thorough review on the
incident, apologize to the Chinese side and respond to China's
concerns and demands, Zhu said.
He reiterated that the Chinese government and people have the
right to know the answers to the following questions: Why does the
U.S. side frequently send its military surveillance planes on spy
flights over sea areas close to China? Why did the U.S. warplane
make an abrupt turn and ram the Chinese jet in violation of
operation rules? Why did the U.S. plane intrude into China's
airspace and land at a Chinese airport without approval from the
The U.S. is fully responsible for making a clear explanation of
these questions to the Chinese people, he said.
Zhu said that the Chinese side is conducting an investigation
into the incident. Although the process is not yet complete, Zhu
said, China lost no time in allowing U.S. diplomats in China to
meet the concerned U.S. plane crew members, after taking into
consideration humanitarian concerns and the relevant agreements
between China and the U.S..
"This demonstrates China's sincerity and humanitarian spirit in
handling the issue", he said, adding that China will deal properly
with the U.S. crew and plane on the basis of the results of the
Zhu once again demanded that the U.S. side solemnly consider
China's solemn representations and rational requests, and sincerely cooperate with China in the investigation.
He also urged the U.S. side to make a prompt explanation to the
Chinese government and people about the U.S. plane's ramming of
the Chinese jet and its infringement upon China's sovereignty and
airspace, apologize to the Chinese side and shoulder all the
responsibility arising from the incident.
-- spider (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 03, 2001