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Friday, 13 April, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
America ponders 'defeat'
Well-wishers wait for the return of the crew
America is relieved, but the crisis "is not over"
The standoff between Washington and Beijing is over and the US aircrew safely back home, but American commentators appear to be circumspect about the way the crisis was resolved.

China has presented itself as the winner in the battle over the American spy plane, and many US critics tend to agree - probably none more blatantly than two analysts writing in the Washington Post under the headline "We lost".

The Chinese see more clearly than we do that - so far - they have won and we have lost

From the Washington Post
President George W Bush has received broad political and public support for the way he handled the crisis.

And while most of the newspapers express relief at the return of the crew, there is much talk of weakness, loss of influence and problems ahead.

Not the end

America's "humiliating apology" was the product of "Chinese extortion", and not "high diplomacy", say two writers in the Washington Post.

"The Chinese see more clearly than we do that - so far - they have won and we have lost," they say.

China assumed a new position of power

From the LA Times
In the same newspaper, another critic warns that "short-term diplomacy" can bring "long-term dangers".

"Visions of squeezing 'very very sorry' out of Colin Powell the next time already dance in Beijing's imaginations."

In the Los Angeles Times commentators deal more blows to the Bush administration's handling of the crisis.

"China assumed a new position of power. And it probably walked off with a technological advancement capable of preserving its underwater secrets and preventing the US from successfully completing the very tasks those US reconnaissance flights were meant to execute," reads one article.

In the same pages, another critic notes that being "number one only counts if you have influence", and America's, he says, has been declining.

Taking a different line, analysts in the New York Times say the Mr Bush had to suppress his own hawkish instincts and those of others in the cabinet in order to take a conciliatory approach with China.

But, as all the American papers caution, this is not the end of the story.

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12 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Spy plane crew back on US soil
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