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Sunday, 29 April, 2001, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
US-China spy-plane row

Relations between the US and China remain tense. Washington refuses to halt its reconnaissance flights and Beijing refuses to return the American plane. BBC News Online charts the key events of the diplomatic standoff.


US resumes spy flights

An RC-135 U.S. Air Force reconnaissance jet refuelling
China says it is impossible to return the stranded plane

Five weeks after the collision, the US resumed reconnaisance flights, sparking fresh protests from Beijing. Washington said its stranded plane could be repaired and flown home, but China refused permission. Relations were further strained by Washington's plans for a national missile defence system.

 Click here to watch Adam Brookes' report


Inspectors arrive in Hainan

A man reading Chinese news magazine
Chinese media have published detials of the spy plane

A team of American technical and military inspectors has arrived at the Chinese military airbase on Hainan island to assess the spyplane which made an emergency landing there last month. It's thought the plane will have to be towed away by barge.

 Click here to listen to Adam Brookes' report


China to allow spy plane inspection
Guards at foreign ministry, Beijing
Guards at foreign ministry, Beijing

China decides to allow the United States access to its spy plane, detained in southern China since it collided with a Chinese fighter on 1 April.

 Click here to watch David Chazan's report






New pictures of Chinese pilot
Chinese pilot Wang Wei holding up his email address
Chinese pilot Wang Wei holding up his email address

The US Department of Defence releases footage that it says is of the Chinese pilot Wang Wei. The pictures were taken by an American crew member in a surveillance plane back in January.

 Click here to watch Bill Hayton's report


The talks could set the tone for future US-Chinese relations.
The talks could set the tone for future US-Chinese relations.
US delegates arrive for talks

A US delegation is in Beijing to begin talks aimed at securing the return of the American spy plane which was involved in a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea.

 Click here to watch Rupert Wingfield-Hayes' report


US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
US accuses China of aggression

Two days after the release of the American spy plane crew, Washington releases dramatic video footage, which the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believes is evidence of Chinese aggression.

 Click here to watch Philippa Thomas's report.


The crew are finally allowed home
The crew are finally allowed home
US crew debriefed

While the crew of the American spy plane undergo debriefing sessions, President Bush says that surveillance flights will continue off the coast of China despite Beijing's insistence that they be ended. The BBC's David Willis reports.

 Click here to watch David Willis's report.


Sandra Guidry opens a bottle of champagne after hearing of her son's release
Sandra Guidry opens a bottle of champagne after hearing of her son's release
Relatives celebrate as US crew prepares to return home

China says it will allow the US air crew to go home, following US expressions of regret. President Bush has now told China he's "very sorry" about the collision between two of their military planes. The BBC's Matt Frei reports from Hainan in Southern China.

 Click here to watch Matt Frei's report.


President Bush made an announcement on the agreement.
President Bush made an announcement on the agreement.
US crew to be released 'promptly'

The United States air crew detained in China is to be released "promptly", following US expressions of regret for the loss of the Chinese fighter pilot involved in the accident that brought the plane down.

 Click here to watch the statement by President Bush.


Standing guard outside the US embassy in Beijing
Standing guard outside the US embassy in Beijing
US warning over ties with China

President Bush writes to the widow of the Chinese pilot, in what officials describe as a "humanitarian" gesture. China acknowledges President Bush's expression of regret but continues to demand an apology for the death of the Chinese fighter pilot.

 Click here to watch a report by the BBC's Adam Brookes.


A member of the detained crew
A member of the detained crew
Diplomats meet stranded US crew

US envoys held their second meeting with the crew of the stranded spy plane, as China refused to budge on its demand for an apology.

 Click here to watch a report by the BBC's Duncan Kennedy.


China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi
China welcomes US 'regret'

As the crippled American spy plane and its crew remain stranded on Hainan Island, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi welcomed the expression of regret by US Secretary of State Colin Powell over the Chinese pilot missing, presumed dead.

 Click here to watch a report by the BBC's Adam Brookes.


Chinese pictures show damage to the US plane
Chinese pictures show damage to the US plane
China demands an apology

The Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, wants Washington to publicly apologise for the incident. He says the US "should bear all responsibilities for the collision incident", according to the Xinhua News Agency. Most of China's major newspapers have run articles condemning US "hegemonistic" behaviour.

 Click here to listen to a discussion with the former US ambassador to China James Lilley in Washington and, in Beijing, international politics professor Jia Qhing-guo.


Bush: Looking forward to bringing the servicemen home
Bush: Looking forward to bringing the servicemen home
Bush warns China

The US President George W Bush says the accident has the potential to undermine hopes for a fruitful and productive relationship between the US and China.

 Click here to watch President Bush's statement


Americans have been quick to show their support for the stranded crew
Americans have been quick to show their support for the stranded crew
Spy plane families' anguish

For the families of the 24 crew members of the American spy plane still confined at a Chinese military base, it is an agonising wait for news of their loved ones.

 Click here to listen to Ken Cecka, the brother of one of the airmen.


An EP-3E: crammed with spy equipment
An EP-3E: crammed with spy equipment
'Big blow' to US intelligence

For the US intelligence community, the loss of the EP-3E is a serious event. Inspection of the computer systems and antennas aboard will give the Chinese a good idea of the US knowledge base.


 Click here to watch a report by the BBC's Ben Brown on China's detention of this sophisticated US surveillance plane.

 The former RAF navigator John Nicoll says this is a massive intelligence coup for the Chinese.

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See also:

03 Apr 01 | Media reports
Chinese press slams US 'arrogance'
04 Apr 01 | Americas
Spy plane families' anguish
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