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Thursday, 19 July, 2001, 02:48 GMT 03:48 UK
Congress blocks spy plane payout
Fuselage of the US Navy spy plane being loaded onto a Russian cargo plane
The spy plane was eventually dismantled and flown home
The US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly against reimbursing China for the 11 days the crew of a grounded spy plane spent on a Chinese island, or for the cost of repatriating the aircraft.


This Congress will never allow a single dollar to be used to compensate the perpetrators of international aggression

Congressman Tom DeLay
The Bush administration had said it was reviewing China's claim for $1m, but the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to block any payments to Beijing.

One senior Republican congressman, Tom DeLay, said the idea that American taxpayers should start rewarding what he called "communist piracy" was as contemptible as it was unlikely to happen.

The surveillance plane made an emergency landing on Hainan island in April after a mid-air collision in which a Chinese fighter pilot died.

'International aggression'

China detained the crew for 11 days before allowing the Americans to dismantle the plane and ship it out more than three months later.

Members of the Republican-led House said they wanted to make sure that none of China's claims were paid.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin
President Jiang demanded an apology for the crash

The Congress voted 424-6 to add language that would block such payments to a $38.5bn bill it was considering to fund the departments of Commerce, Justice and State next fiscal year.

"This Congress will never allow a single dollar to be used to compensate the perpetrators of international aggression," Mr DeLay said.

"The brazen audacity of some demands can almost take on a kind of comic grandeur," added Mr DeLay, who also spoke of "the deluded daydreams of a despotic regime".

Strained relations

The rejection of the claim seems to have put the Congress at odds with the Bush administration, which had said it would consider reimbursing "reasonable costs" related to returning the plane.


This is the ultimate arrogance on the part of this communist regime

Congressman Tom Lantos
"Now the Chinese Government has presented us with a $1m invoice. This... is the ultimate arrogance on the part of this communist regime," said Representative Tom Lantos of California.

The spy plane incident has strained relations between the US and China, which have been further complicated by issues such as US missile defence technology tests and Chinese accusations that some visiting Chinese-Americans have been spies.


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See also:

06 Jul 01 | Americas
03 May 01 | Americas
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