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The BBC's Helen Wade
"Ten days of intense diplomatic activity have so far failed to diffuse the crisis"
 real 56k

James Lilley, former US ambassador in Beijing
"They have got to come up with something soon"
 real 28k

Jonathan Mirsky, writer and broadcaster on China
"I do not think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel"
 real 56k

Monday, 9 April, 2001, 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
US spy plane response 'unacceptable'
Anti-US billboard at Hainan University
A billboard describes American conduct as "disgusting"
China has again demanded a US apology for last week's collision between an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet.


Regrettably, the United States statements are still unacceptable to the Chinese people

Zhu Bangzao
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said US statements to date on the incident were "unacceptable".

"We ask the United States to take responsibility for this incident in a clear and active way by apologizing to the Chinese people," he said at a news conference during President Jiang Zemin's visit to Argentina.

Earlier, US President George W Bush had said that relations with China could be damaged unless the spy plane's crew was soon freed.

President Bush
President Bush: "diplomatic channels are open"
The 24 crew members of the American EP-3 surveillance plane have been in custody since they were forced to perform an emergency landing on Hainan Island.

US diplomats who held a fourth meeting with the crew on Monday said they were in "extremely high spirits".

The US embassy in Beijing said diplomats were allowed to meet all 24 of the crew, in contrast to their meeting on Sunday, when they were given access to only eight of them.

Despite US insistence that it has no plans to apologise, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared to make a concession on Sunday - he used the word "sorry" when referring to the loss of the Chinese fighter pilot, Wang Wei, whose plane crashed into the sea following the collision and has yet to be found.

In what has been described by Washington as a humanitarian gesture, President Bush sent a personal letter to the wife of the pilot, who is missing presumed dead.

Nine-day stand-off
1 April: Collision forces US spy plane to land on Hainan Island; Chinese fighter plane lost
2 April: President Bush demands access to the plane
3 April: Beijing demands full apology
4 April: Bush says he will not apologise
5 April: Bush expresses regret over incident
7 April: China's vice-premier says US response is "unacceptable"
8 April: US vice-president again insists there will be no apology
9 April: China reiterates demand for apology
But on Monday, Mr Bush signalled Washington's growing impatience, renewing his call for the crew to be released.

"Every day that goes by increases the potential that our relations with China will be damaged," Mr Bush told reporters.

As the stand-off continues, the BBC's Washington correspondent Stephen Sackur says US legislators are now openly referring to the 24 crew members as "hostages".

Our correspondent says Republicans in particular are taking an increasingly tough line, arguing that a link should be made between China's actions and two key bilateral issues - the question of new US arms sales to Taiwan and the status of China's trade relations with Washington.

Certain sections of the Chinese leadership also appear to be hardening their position.

The Liberation Army Daily, published by the Chinese military, has demanded an end to spy flights near China's coast.

"China has the right to fully and thoroughly investigate this entire incident, including the American military aircraft and the people in charge of it," said the newspaper.

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See also:

09 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan presses for US arms sales
07 Apr 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush's foreign policy
06 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
China protects vital interests
30 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China arrests another US academic
08 Apr 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
A Cold War in paradise
09 Apr 01 | Media reports
Bush 'can break impasse'
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