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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Spy plane stand-off: What should happen next?
What should be done now?
Tension is mounting between the US and China over the spy plane stand-off.

US President Bush has demanded the immediate release of the crew and return of the aircraft, warning China not to undermine bilateral relations by holding onto them.

But there has been no indication that China is ready to meet the demands. China insists on a public apology for the incident.

What should be done to de-escalate the situation? Whose fault is the current stand-off?

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.

We all feel very enraged by the arrogant and hegemonic act of the US.

Ji Woo, Shanghai, China
We all feel very enraged by the arrogant and hegemonic act of the US. Reasoning governs everything. The US only cares about their own crew and the spy plane. But what about our missing pilot? Is he alive or dea? So far, the US government hasn't made any apology. How is it that there is such an extremely rude and arrogant government in the world? We resolutely support the correct stand of the Chinese government.
Ji Woo, Shanghai, China

People are saying that that the US should apologize because the Chinese pilot probably lost his life. Make no mistake about it, the fact that the pilot probably lost his life is tragic, but this is not what China wants an apology for. China wants the US to take responsibility and apologize for the "incident", even when there is no real evidence that the US is at fault. This is ridiculous. It is my opinion that neither China nor the US should apologize for anything until some sort of concrete evidence can be found, which shows which side is at fault. Believe me, the US is sorry about the death of the Chinese pilot, but it cannot apologize for something that is very easily not its fault.
Dan O, Wisconsin, USA

Considering the nature of relations that exist between US and China, it is obvious that the Chinese would keep the plane for investigations. It is a SPY PLANE! I am 100% sure that if the situation was contrary, US would also want to keep the plane to investigate deeply.
Abide Takou, Rockford, USA

US should bomb China in to stone age as it did in Iraq and declare southern China a no fly zone. That will stop the Chinese from interfering with US planes.
Yusuf Patel, Mississauga, Canada

This is in response to Jack Hutchens and his silly, ignorant comments. First of all, and this is something some of the other writers in this forum need to digest, the US plane was not over China. It was in international waters. It could have been five minutes or five hundred miles from Chinese waters. It doesn't matter folks. These flights are not only routine, but also completely legal. So Mr. Hutchens, your comment about China not flying spy planes over California is not relevant at all.
Doug Moyers, USA

But it was his fault mummy *stomp* I wont apologise, I wont! He started it not me!
Darren, Auckland, New Zealand

The important thing is to bring the air crew home now!

Bruce, Ca.
China is well within proper protocol to ask for an apology. If a Chinese spy plane were cruising our border what would our pilots do? We as a nation have the ability to say we are sorry. I wish we had the ability to elect a president who was smart enough to do the same. The important thing is to bring the air crew home now!
Bruce, Long Beach Ca.

Granted there is a degree of arrogance that goes with being the lead watchdog of world peace and security. So then if not the United States then who? England? We all know their history. They defined arrogance. France? Italy? Germany? Yeah right. How about Canada? They're always claiming how much better they do things than Americans. Go for it Canada. You take over the reigns of world security for a while. Or perhaps we should just cut to the chase and recognize China as the new superpower overseeing the security peace and freedom of the whole world. Would that be acceptable? Because frankly as an American I am fed up with the role we have been forced into since WW2.
John, Cranston, USA

No one has yet questioned why the "accident" happened. With all the advanced technology that both nations have, it is disgraceful that the incident happened.
Peter Bolton, UK in US

If China's "fighter" pilots can't handle it, they shouldn't try to play with the big boys.

S. Hyman Schwartz, Texas
You all mean apologize to a tyrannical government that regularly kills millions of its own people for a single hot-dogging Chinese pilot who killed himself and nearly killed the crew of the American plane with incompetent flying? Whine, whine, snivel, snivel. Get real. If China's "fighter" pilots can't handle it, they shouldn't try to play with the big boys.
S. Hyman Schwartz, Waco, Texas

I think this standoff is outrageous. If a Chinese plane had to make a emergency landing in 'say' Hawaii, I bet it's crew would be back in China in one or two days. This has gone on for nine and how many more? If the Chinese want an apology they should start with themselves. If a cruise ship and a speedboat collide, you don't blame the cruise ship. It's obvious who is to blame, and I think Bush needs to deliver an ultimatum. Give us back our people or else!
Bob Jackson, Houston,Texas USA

The US deserves more than this for causing pain and suffering worldwide. More will come your way. God is watching.
Hoosain, South Africa

Would any Americans accept spy planes flying over their borders all the time?

loujiangren, China
Would any Americans accept spy planes flying over their borders all the time? Would the American government and people accept their plane be crashed and pilot lost? And would you not be irritated if the causer said he did nothing wrong, but it was your entire fault? We don't spy on you and just want to live happily with ourselves. Will you do the same to us and stay at your own home? If everyone in this world still recognizes that there is right and wrong, and there are universal rules regardless of whether strong or weak of each part, and everyone is created equal in this world, I am here asking for fairness and justice.
loujiangren, China

Can't the politicians focus their energies on providing a better life to their people rather than fighting petty ego battles? Whether the countries are developed or developing, the majority of the people are suffering. Do something about them first, then engage in spying and military build up!
Nikhilesh Haval, Sheffield, UK

Spying is carried out by every major power in the world

Flavio Martinez, USA
I see many anti-American postings on message boards from citizens of various countries. It is unfortunate, that their jealousy at our prosperity clouds their judgement. Spying is carried out by every major power in the world including China.
Flavio Martinez, Los Angeles, USA

Let's not lose sight of the big picture. The Chinese are utilizing this incident to test the new American administration. Bush has successfully re-ignited cold-war sentiment and the Chinese feel the need to be chesty. Is it me or does it feel like 1985 again? I wish the American service people Godspeed in coming home and I pray for the woman who lost her husband and her family. Those people are the innocent chips in a very sophisticated worldly game.
Kas, USA

Only after hearing both sides stories will we be able to know what exactly occurred

V Sathya Vagheeswar, USA
It is very childish for China to ask the US for an apology through the widow of pilot Wei. What is required to be done at this point by the US is to somehow secure the release of the 24 crew held captive and then get their side of the story. Only after hearing both sides stories will we be able to know what exactly occurred. Whether china agrees on that is another story.
V Sathya Vagheeswar, Cincinnati, USA

All countries, to the extent of their resources, gather information about their potential adversaries. If China had the means, their planes would cruise off the U.S. coast doing the same thing as the American aircraft in question. These activities are understood by realistic people of all nationalities. It takes a total fruitcake to believe that the US pilot would risk the plane and crew by intentionally manoeuvring towards the Chinese fighter. Similarly, the Chinese pilot wouldn't have intended to cause a crash, but he got too close and paid for his indiscretion with his life.
Marshall, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Spying on each other is a fact of life, so get over it

Mark Colburn, UK
The US aircrew will be released when the Chinese have extracted the maximum propaganda value from the incident. In this whole sorry case there has been too much emotion and not enough clear thinking. Spying on each other is a fact of life, so get over it. The Chinese have taken advantage of the situation to test the resolve of the new American administration. People should calm down, step back and look at the whole picture before someone bursts a blood vessel through righteous indignation.
Mark Colburn, Manchester, UK

Since when did the Chinese government start caring about its citizen? They are just using the missing pilot as a propaganda piece to whip up its citizenry.
Caesar, USA

Spy planes are a fact of life, remember the Russians flying down the East coast of the UK and RAF/US fighter aircraft being launched to head them of? There is no way that a pilot of a lumbering spy plane would try to hit another aircraft so jeopardising his life and that of his crew. Fighter pilots are trained in close quarter manoeuvres, have you seen the Red Arrows? So it would seem that this Chinese pilot tried to "buzz" the US plane and misjudged it. It was just an accident but the Chinese are trying to make an incident out of it. Keep up the good work USA and carry on spying
John, France

Simple. China gives back the pilots, but keeps the plane. The arrogant US cannot argue with that. I used to be very much in favour of stronger ties with the US as opposed to tighter integration with Europe. This crisis shows how wrong I was.
Greg Heywood, UK

They were not asked to police the world

J.L., Toronto, Canada
There is a growing concern across the globe with America's adopted role of global watchdog; they were not asked to police the world, but take it upon themselves to do so in the interest of "preserving peace", all the while constructing an orbital laser defence net? Imagine if the situation were reversed, and an American pilot lost his life after colliding with a Chinese spy plane inside American airspace. It is foolish to imagine all the US would do is request an apology. The global community should condemn America's aggressive stance, demand they take the blame and unite against this latest act of military posturing from a nation all too famous for its violence.
J.L., Toronto, Canada

In what way should President Bush apologise when the US has done nothing wrong? Spying on China is certainly justified as it is important to gather any information which can be used to preserve peace. Unfortunate accidents can and do occur when forces conduct operations in close quarters, which is hardly cause for apologies. It is wrong to appease dictatorships to release hostages through false apologies.

I realise that it is fashionable to criticise the US, but it is disheartening to consistently see US-bashing whilst she continues to fight for world peace. The US is not perfect, but how can anyone disagree that the world is not a safer place with a superpower with the disposition of the US at the helm? It would be nice to see some support for what we are doing, just as we heartily support all the UK and the rest of Nato does to help provide a more peaceful 21st century than the 20th century.
Todd, Indianapolis, USA

I have seen a lot of comments mentioning the fact that the US interests in other countries is only a good thing, and prevents take-overs by dictators. So if that is true, why is Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq. It was the US who supported his war on Iran in the early 80's, and now look at what's happened there.
Chris, Canterbury, UK

The recent escalation of the rhetoric between USA and China over the spy plane incident is just one of the many manifestations of a new era in power balancing. The world cannot and will not accept one predominant leading nation. The world in an effort to reach a new power balance, will allow the development of other alternatives one of which is China and a second one is a New Europe. The USA must be able to understand these natural phenomena, come to terms with the escalating efforts of selective nations or group of nations aiming at reducing its present unchallenged domination.
AG, Japan

It doesn't matter who caused the incident

CY, Hong Kong
It doesn't matter who caused the incident. If someone peeked into your home, it is nothing but logical for you to check them out. Under such a situation, mishaps are always likely to happen. What is happening now is only another indication to show how the US Government likes to tell others how they should live their lives.
CY, Hong Kong

I am wondering why so many folks are taking the Chinese version of this incident as gospel. I would think that the US crew would be able to shed some light on the incident, as they were at the point of contact. Why would the US apologise before the "investigations" are even started?
Glenn, Landing, NJ, USA

China does not currently have the means to use the same high-tech spying methods employed by the US. This is not a good reason to try to prevent the US watching the current military build-up on the Chinese coast which threatens her neighbours. Would the police in any neighbourhood ignore and simply turn a blind eye to a house full of gun toting men simply because they felt their privacy was threatened?
Susanne Wang, Taipei, Taiwan

The crew are not detainees! They are HOSTAGES in an ongoing political-economic WAR with China. Say whatever is necessary to get them out and continue to do whatever is in the best interests of the US.
J. Beech, Stratford, Ct, USA

The US has been flying this type of recon mission off the China coast since 1950. Why are we still using this old method? Don't we have satellites that can see and hear all parts of the globe? Wouldn't it be better to gather intelligence from a distance than provoke a misguided response as in this case? Obviously the Chinese fighter got too close. Don't give them an apology, but do rethink this method of intelligence gathering.
Jeff, USA

I keep reading people describing that the USA and China as superpowers, but are they?

Kent, USA
I keep reading people describing that the USA and China as superpowers, but are they? We here in the USA have the means to blow up the world a couple hundred times; yet we are still losing on the war on drugs. Millions of our children do not have health insurance coverage. The gun violence in schools is most disturbing while our moral standards are at an all time low. On the other hand, can the Chinese call their country a superpower if hundreds of thousands of their countrymen/ women are fleeing to the USA, UK or Australia every year for a better life and evade communist repression?
Kent, USA

Too much time has been wasted on who is right and who is wrong. While we cannot undue what has taken place, we can at least take back what is ours....

I have read quite a bit on this page about American "arrogance". I suggest that Bush demonstrate American humbleness by bringing the fleets and the troops ALL home. Then when the Chinese decide to flex their muscles by closing the South China Sea, and Saddam Hussein takes control of a large portion of the world oil, the world can comfort itself with the thought that at least those "arrogant Americans" aren't pushing them around anymore.
Robert Serio, San Jose,USA

I think the BBC editorialists have a Marxist slant to them for the most part

Andy Hill, Racine, USA
I think the BBC editorialists have a Marxist slant to them for the most part. The British surveyed Germany and Japan prior to the onset of WWII and we didn't call them names.
andy hill, Racine, USA

It's interesting to see that America looks at China as a super power. Don't forget, China is still a developing country, they have millions of people to feed, that alone will cost them billions of dollars, how in the world can they find the money to start an arms race?
Sean yang, San Jose, US

I am still waiting for an apology from China. I believe that China should release the American hostages without hesitation. What is their reason for detaining them? Perhaps we should shoot down a Chinese plane, rescue the airmen then detain them here until our men are released.
Matt Perl, Chicago, IL, USA

It's either extremely naive or downright intellectually dishonest to assume that China is not "gathering intelligence" on the US

Mark Y, California USA
I'm a bit puzzled why others here have said that the Americans are displaying arrogance, for whatever reason. In the past, this charge is probably warranted, but in this particular case, I'm not sure how it applies. The American plane was conducting surveillance of Chinese coastal communications - this has been going on for years, and the PRC hasn't said anything about it. Besides, it's either extremely naive or downright intellectually dishonest to assume that China is not "gathering intelligence" on the US.
Mark Y, California USA

I think President Bush and Secretary Powell's expression of regret over the loss of the Chinese pilot and plane is more than enough. The United States is clearly not at fault in this situation. Although I am not a staunch supporter of the Bush administration, I do think that President Bush has been diligent in handling this very sensitive matter.
Michael, New York, USA

I do not think the US owes China an apology any more than China owes the US an apology

Carol, Houston, TX, USA
I do not think the US owes China an apology any more than China owes the US an apology. The collision was an ACCIDENT. I believe that President Bush should have shown his regrets over the loss of the Chinese airman a little sooner, but he has indeed made a statement regarding that. It is sad that any life was lost. But, even if one country or the other is at fault, how can we ask either side to apologise until we know for sure?
Carol, Houston, TX, USA

Sometimes I'm ashamed to be an American. The media stations have been going on and on about the "US spy plane" but none of them seem to reflect that maybe, just maybe, spying on another country in times of peace can be an act of provocation and carries with it some culpability.
Sydney Locks, USA

There is clearly much doubt as to whether the US has any blame in this issue. Accepting blame where there is no blame, and apologising without sincerity would surely not be the correct model for US/ Chinese relations.
Michael Taylor, London

We need to be responsible human beings as well as educated

Ron DeMuth, San Francisco, CA, USA
I suggest the citizens of both countries press their governments for more elaborate information regarding this incident. We need to be responsible human beings as well as educated. Being educated doesn't mean we need to be "spoon fed" our thoughts and convictions via the media. We need to think about the facts here, which substantiate to very little. People¿let's use our intelligence in this matter before making drastic and careless remarks.
Ron DeMuth, San Francisco, CA, USA

I think we should all just watch soccer and not worry about these stupid Chinese and very stupid Americans. Everything is done for a reason including incidents like this. So let's just all watch the Champions League.
Mr Big, Melbourne, Australia

China has the right to do whatever it wants with spies especially when one of their own is missing. Bush should not try to push the country into releasing the crew. He should be diplomatic in what he says otherwise the Chinese will not bow down to cheap politicking.
Gazzamania, Harare, Zimbabwe

Does the US really believe they have a right to get their bugging equipment back?

Charles Garcia, Boston, USA
It is very unnerving to watch the two most powerful nations in the world involved in such an unnecessary squabble. Spying is punishable by death in a lot of nations, and the US is arrogantly ignoring the blatancy of its actions. Does the US really believe they have a right to get their bugging equipment back? Who would willingly return a tape to someone else, with their darkest secrets unwillingly recorded on it?
Charles Garcia, Boston, USA

The Chinese government is not a perfect government and the pilot who died may well have bumped the US plane first. However, I think all countries should spy on each another as much as possible. The more the United States knows about China and the more China knows about the United States, the better.
A.L. Bell, Jersey City, NJ

How does a four engine propeller driven plane "run into" a jet fighter and cause it to crash? It is like a train crashing into a car and the train being at fault. I think the US needs to send a fighter escort along with its recon planes and shoot down anything that comes near it.
Henry Tang, Beijing, China

It is important to point out that we will never know exactly what actually happened and whether the plane was over international waters (international airspace) or not. Perhaps the whole accident was just a decoy to lure China into trouble with the USA at an important time when sophisticated equipment is being sold to Taiwan.
Fernando A. Grangé Levy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why is no one mentioning the missing Chinese airman?

Jenni, Essex, England
Why is no one mentioning the missing Chinese airman? Does the fact that he is Chinese make him unworthy of our thoughts? We are all human for goodness sake! The American airmen are safe - they will be returned soon.
Jenni, Essex, England

Spying in international waters is just as much a crime as stalking - an invasion of privacy. The US military started a chain reaction that is the proximate cause of loss of Chinese life and property. The US does have something to apologise for.
Will, LA, California, USA

The P3 is not a 'spy' plane - it openly carries out legitimate surveillance from international airspace. For the record, so do planes from virtually every other 'effective' military, including the British. Blaming the US pilot for the collision is like blaming a wall when you walk into it - the P3 is the same size as a small airliner, versus the Chinese F8. The Chinese pilot made a mistake, and sadly died. Our thoughts should be with his family, but this in no way excuses the Chinese holding the US aircrew hostage.
Rory Heard, Reading, UK

If a Ferrari gets into an accident with a 18-wheeler, do we automatically assume that the Ferrari is at fault?
Angel, Taipei, Taiwan

The hawkish statement looks more and more likely to isolate the US in important international affairs

Anthony, London, UK/ Hong Kong
The Bush administration seems unwilling to co-operate with other countries on related matters, as seen in the US spy plane saga as well as the Kyoto agreement. The hawkish statement looks more and more likely to isolate the US in important international affairs. BTW, the Chinese pilot is still missing, and it is a highly sensitive matter in China. The hawkish demand from the US seems "pushy".
Anthony, London, UK/ Hong Kong

Bush should apologize, but he won't, his ego is too big for that. I just hope he doesn't do too much damage before he finally leaves office, I'm glad I live in Canada now. He cares about nothing but money and power.
Jill, Canada

Bush is wrong to demand the immediate return of the USN crew. They are spies held to account for their actions. This crisis is due to American desires to gain information advance - at Chinese expense. You cannot and must not negotiate with bullies. The only way this will de-escalate is when America apologises for the intrusion and then the Chinese should hand the people back and send the aircraft back in crates ... I am sure the Americans know that this is the right way of doing things.
Andreas Selwood, High Wycombe, UK

I wish we still had Clinton. He could handle such situations. Our baseball president is only irritating the whole world with his Texas chauvinism. They lost a plane; we damaged one. I don't think it's too much to ask for an apology. The one is as much at fault as the other. And we'll probably never really know what went on up there (but I can't recall the last time I saw Chinese planes flying along the west coast). Instead, bad Chinese publicity will fill the airwaves to bolster Bush's cry for US justice.
Torsten, Chicago, IL, USA

America should cut its losses and forget about the plane. Perhaps next time they go spying on "undemocratic" countries, they should use the "invisible" air craft they employed over Serbia two years ago.
R. Belema, UK

I believe the proper term to describe those engaged in the activities of a spy plane is "spies". What China decides to do with U.S. spies who have entered their property is up to them. Unfortunately, this is the military we are talking about and if you are a military spy, you just have to accept the risks. I certainly don't think Bush has any right to demand anything short of forgiveness.
Edmond V, Vancouver, Canada

What is it with the US military? It seems like one incident after another at the moment and apparently everyone except the US is to blame. From the ski lift accident a few years back right through to recent events in China they seem unable, or unwilling, to admit they can do wrong. They'll probably end up blaming the crash in the Scottish Highlands on the mountains themselves ... or maybe they were using an old map? Whatever the reason, it couldn't possibly be US error.
Steve McCall, Zurich, Switzerland

I hope you realise that you need and use this intelligence just as much as the U.S. does

Eric Hall, Kansas City, Kansas, USA
I hope all you people (especially in the NATO alliance, if you can call it an alliance) realise, that you need and use this intelligence just as much as the U.S. does. If you recall North and South Korea are still officially at a state of war, and since South Korea is a U.N. mission you will be there if fighting begins again (let's hope peace comes first). Last time China came to the rescue of North Korea and we were not prepared, do you want that mistake to happen again? Maybe you don't care for your soldiers but we do and want them to have the best information possible. Deborah from the U.K. I agree with you that European support for America is waning and if it were up to me I would ditch NATO. Europe never did help America when it came to it. If Europe could possibly handle their own affairs then we could spend more money on making America a better country for the poor and the rich. And helping corporations with the technology for better environmental procedures. If I am wrong tell me when they did but I believe we fought two world wars (which were stupid and useless European wars). But I think at least China should have the spirit to return at least the crew. They were only following orders, and China is just proving America right on their human rights issues. I can't believe that you people on this page don't even care about the Airmen and are on here just to backlash America with no regards to their life, you are sorry excuses for humans.
Eric Hall, Kansas City, Kansas, USA

In the mid seventies the Soviet pilot Belenko defected to Japan with a top secret Mig-25. The US took the plane apart and inspected it prior to returning it. I do not think that it is outrageous for the Chinese to do the same!
Khan, Karachi, Pakistan

Yet another reason why Beijing does not deserve the 2008 Olympic Games. How can the world consider giving the games to a country with such a human rights record. If we do we should all be ashamed
Daniel, Sydney, Australia

It is just a matter of time before the US air crew is returned. Once China is satisfied that they got all they could from the aircraft it will be returned. It is in the hands of the diplomats to make the secret deals that will resolve the problem.
Russ Black, Los Angeles, CA USA

Bush has made the mistake of making strongly-worded demands to China's highest authority. Should China 'obey' these demands then the perception, at least in China - will be that it is willing to be bullied by the all-powerful US.
Ali Asgur, London, UK

Sheer American hypocrisy, wasn't the airplane's sole purpose to spy on the Chinese airspace even if it was in international airspace? Americans should learn to stop being arrogant and just apologize for their instigation on the issue.
Afework, US

The US should be demanding an apology from China for their actions

Michael, Pittsburgh USA
I still don't know for what the US is supposed to apologise? For flying in international airspace? For being crashed into? The US should be demanding an apology from China for their actions! In restraint, the US administration is willing to simply classify the incident as an accident and not place blame.
Michael, Pittsburgh USA

As the United State's nearest neighbour, I can't believe how belligerent the U.S has been in this fiasco. How embarrassing this must be for the Americans? If the plane is sovereign territory, then how did it end up in China? You can't help but laugh at American incompetence. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and China was flying spy planes off the coast of California. Or, New York. The arrogance of the American administration could be well mitigated by a simple apology.
Tom, Toronto, Canada

The Chinese government is just using this as an other stick to batter the USA with. They are most likely at fault since the Chinese jet would be much faster, and they may well have engineered this entire mess. They must be stood up to on this and the issue of Taiwan and Tibet, the democratic rights of these nations must be protected. Given the past experiences with the US and the Chinese both governments and have bad track records. But I trust the US a lot more than a country with no democracy, that invades its neighbours when it feels like it.
Craig Brown, Coventry, UK

The accident should be investigated thoroughly

David Zhang, China
Mr. Bush asked the Chinese government to release the 24 crew immediately. In his mind, their lives are very important. But, don't forget the Chinese pilot is still missing and might have died. His life is as important as the Americans'. His family want him to come back just like the Americans' but this is impossible. The American can fasten yellow ribbons because they know their relatives are still 'in good health'. But the Chinese pilot's wife and children are in great sorrow because they know their loved one will never come back. The accident should be investigated thoroughly. And if evidence shows it's Americans fault then this is a murder and somebody will have to be put on trial. The Chinese asking for apologies is just a bottom line.
David Zhang, China

The question one should ask themselves is this one: "Why was that aircraft there to begin with?" Because a small, nearly defenseless nation that happens to be a U.S. ally is constantly bullied on a daily basis. This game of buzzing aircraft in international airspace is nothing new from the PRC Air-force ... they do it to the Taiwanese every day.
Mike V, Boson, USA

First of all, the Chinese government would love to see U.S. apologies to China because they think that they can make U.S. look like a coward country in front of all nations, plus I know that the Chinese people would like to show Russia, Iraq, and North Korea that China knows how to handle these problems better then them. China wants to show they are a superpower. They would love to steal U.S. technology and they try to do everything possible to get it.
Mario, Detroit, Mi., USA

I think the Chinese have completely dismounted the plane in order to find something interesting, and now they are taking time to fix it all back for the Americans. Do they have the proper manual to do that?
John, Coventry, England

Can you imagine what the situation would be if a 'hostile' aircraft of this type was brought down in the US?

Dave Topham, Milton Keynes, UK
We're not talking about a commercial aircraft here. We're talking about a military spy plane, no doubt on a spying mission, full of spy equipment, spying on another country very close to its airspace. I think the Chinese are taking it rather well. The arrogance of the US to simply demand it back without the merest hint of contrition is sadly typical these days. Can you imagine what the situation would be if a 'hostile' aircraft of this type was brought down in the US? I hardly imagine they'd be very happy about it, and would probably be demanding economic sanctions and worldwide condemnation of the country at fault. A little admission of at least partial blame wouldn't go amiss. George Bush is simply looking for another 'red threat to the American way', so the country will rally behind him, and by the looks of things, he's going to get it. It's like a 15 year step back in time.
Dave Topham, Milton Keynes, UK

I think that the situation should serve as a lesson to both sides. The Chinese government should, in a sense, understand its role in the world and its place. The US is the world's superpower, and China should acknowledge that by accepting its place. However, I do believe that the US should not be so overbearing and should not tread such a fine line with regard to the Chinese. Perhaps the Pentagon and the Pacific command should read up in their imperial history to understand how sensitive China has been (and still is) to the West's hegemony.
Hayden, Boston, US

Of course China has every right to dissect the plane. The US and Japan have done exactly the same to USSR's MIG in 1985. The US should apologise and the incident would be over. The arrogance of Americans only serves to make the matter worse. The most probable case now is that China will examine the plane thoroughly and release the 24 airman in due course, but keep the spy plane. This makes US look very much like a bully. The traditional Chinese policy is to stand tough when the other side is adopting a tough line, as we can see from various instances in the past. China will only compromise if the other side is willing to compromise as well.
Kerwin, Cambridge, England

If the United States still has the ability to think coequally it could easily find that the Chinese response is acceptable. But I can hardly count on that. I can't imagine what this so-called "free nation" will give us Chinese.
SunCongGuo, P.R. China

People seem to be forgetting something very important here. This incident took place in international airspace. The United States Navy has every right to fly its aircraft there. The onus is on China, not the U.S., to as President Bush put it, "do the right thing".
Mike V, Boson, USA

What surprises me is the way that Bush seems to be making no efforts to hide the fact he cares more about the plane than the crew. He repeatedly states that the Chinese must not board the plane, when everyone else seems to feel the most important thing is that the crew should be safe. In fact, I think he knows that they won't be harmed by the Chinese - it's just the set-back to US intelligence he's worried about. This all seems rather silly - everyone knows that the US were spying to gain an advantage during a potential war, and the Chinese seem to be far more open in their acceptance of this fact, taking advantage of this collision to level the playing field. All's fair in love and war, no?
Ben, London, UK

Reverse the positions of each party to the incident. If a Chinese plane collided with a US fighter with a resulting death, would American response differ in any substantial way? The US should state their case, then wait patiently for China to release the "detainees". The only judgment of right and wrong that counts here is world opinion, based on the facts, not political posturing or saber-rattling.
Steve Blickens, Dalton USA

To suggest that the U.S. has anything to apologise for is absurd

Dave, USA
Let's be realistic here! To suggest that the U.S. has anything to apologise for is absurd! Some have even suggested that, had the situation been reversed, the U.S. would have acted in similar fashion to the Chinese. Nonsense! For years the Russians have done to us (and we to them) exactly what was going on along the South China coast. Yet we managed to suffer it without creating an international incident. The Chinese are showing a remarkable lack of diplomatic maturity and sophistication in their handling of the matter. Apparently, there are some who expect the U.S. to make allowances for this behavior. Are we to assume the Chinese are children and therefore not fully responsible for their actions? Of course not. I also find it telling that there are some who will take any opportunity to "bash" the U.S., and President Bush in particular. This was not President Bush's spy plane that he used to "antagonize" China. These flights have been a matter of routine for years. What's going on here is a test of a new administration's resolve by a dictatorial power, eager to flex it's muscles. Firmness is the only way to deal with such tactics.
Dave, USA

I think when one looks at the facts ... slow, lumbering American spy plane ... fast, agile Chinese fighter "jet"... one can only come to the conclusion that the American plane couldn't outmanoeuvre the Chinese plane. Thus, how can China conclude it is not at fault. Several people here have spoken of America as the aggressor. Intelligence operations are carried out around the world by many nations ... Britain included. What the American servicemen were doing was perfectly legal and acceptable and above all it was their job. And it was the Chinese pilot's job to antagonize the American plane. Unfortunately there was a miscalculation on someone's part and an accident occurred. I don't feel that any apologies are necessary, but if China continues to hold people for no reason they will be the ones to suffer due to their unreasonable actions.
Mary, USA

I don't understand. China catches us spying on them and our guys are getting all indignant? They will just have to wait it out now. What happens if we accidentally knock down a Chinese spy plane? We don't look at it, see what's on it. Give us a break. China is acting normal. This is what people do when they catch spies. The U.S. is acting, once again, like we own the world and we can do whatever we want to, any time to anybody, and not only reuse to aplogize, but somehow take on the role of the injured party.
Paul Siemering, Canbridge, USA

Again America shows the rest of the world how much it enjoys being a bully. Sometimes I'm really ashamed that I am an American. Does China have spy planes flying over California? If it did you could rest assured Bush and Co. would find a way of defending an attack on Beijing. Why doesn't America have to play by the same rules as the rest of the world?!
Jack Hutchens, Poznan, Poland

For the situation to be calmed either one of the sides must make a first move, this will be very hard for either party. The USA could announce that it will no longer fly spy planes near China therefore giving China the next positive step. Or China could release the American service personnel (as a good will gesture) announcing that the plane collision was due to mistakes on both sides (falling short of an apology). These options may calm the situation without either side losing face (i.e. apologising, and saving political face!). As for the plane the 'information' on it is now the property of the Chinese republic as it is probably related to China, the plane and all the equipment should be returned to the US as soon as the Chinese have finished 'poking' around.
Andy, Surrey, UK

Since the largest democracy has been caught redhanded, it is only right the U.S. offers an immediate apology

Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India
The only way to de-escalate the current tension between the U.S. and China is for Uncle Sam to first tender an unconditional apology to the world in general and China in particular for the collision of planes in the South China Sea on Sunday. America must remember that it owes an explanation what its sophisticated naval surveillance plane was doing over the Chinese skies, when the mishap took place. It cannot get away saying the plane strayed into Chinese airspace by sheer accident. It is obvious, even to the illiterate, that the U.S. plane was on a spying mission. Hence the fault lies solely with the globe's self-proclaimed policeman, who expects all other nations to be subservient to her at all times. Since the largest and richest democracy has been caught redhanded spying in Chinese airspace, it is only right the U.S. offers an immediate apology. Once she humbly does so, the next step towards releasing the crew and the plane could be seriously considered by China.
Albert Devakaram, Chennai, India

The Americans only emphasise the 24 crews being held in China. How about the Chinese pilot who died in the accident? They should apologize to the Chinese!
Sue, England

This is like two schoolyard bullies facing off. One is obviously much stronger and tougher, and the other does not want to lose face in the situation. I don't think the US will apologize, we Americans are too proud, especially Republicans (which I am glad I am not). The Chinese have every right I believe to dismantle the plane, but to ease the situation they should release the crew members, there is nothing much they can do with them, they can't interrogate as they would POW's, so why keep them? Even if they are released I believe that the US will stubbornly demand the plane to be returned. I don't see this situation "de-escalating" any time soon.
Kevin, Austin, TX, USA

It seems that America is coming in for a fair amount of criticism, but I applaud their stance as world law enforcers. Although mistakes have and will be made, the emerging superpower of China does pose a threat to world safety and measures should be taken to prevent an incident occurring. America needs to stay one step ahead of such nations and I feel their actions are justified. It seems to me China forced the aircraft to land in their territory, forcing it out of the international airspace. China has nothing to gain by holding on to the crew, although they have a stronger case in keeping hold of the plane as no one yet seems to be able to prove who was responsible for the accident.
Jim, London, England

George W Bush and his team right from the start adopted a hawkish approach in regard to dealing with China, stating openly that it views China as a "strategic competitor". This is poor PR since the moment you name someone as your potential enemy, he bristles and becomes your enemy.
Kelvin Tan, Singapore

Come on people! Why should the US say sorry if everyone agrees that the spy plane was in international airspace? Do people really think a large, slow, cumbersome plane picked on a fast, sleek fighter and caused the collision - it is obvious to anyone with a neutral viewpoint who was at fault. Asking Bush to say sorry is akin to China admitting it was at fault for having its Belgrade Embassy at the wrong end of a cruise missile. I'm sorry the Chinese lost a pilot but they should grow up and give the Americans their crew back at once.
Nick Adams, Dubai, UAE

When the US airplanes bombarded the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 killing many people they claimed that it was an error of their intelligence. Well, revenge (either divine or human) is a meal that is always served cold. And in this case, China is enjoying this meal to the full.
Anthony Vlahos, London, UK

The pilots should be released, and the plane should be returned

Randall, USA
The pilots should be released, and the plane should be returned. It was in international waters and was struck by a Chinese fighter. As for an apology, should we ask the Chinese for an apology for stealing our nuclear weapons secrets???
Randall, USA

The whole thing is very sensitive, especially with the Taiwan involvement as well. If America hadn't been flying there in the first place though it wouldn't have happened. I understand the need to gather intelligence but I hoped that as a race we were nearly past all this now. It may be naive and idealistic to ask this, but why can't we all get along? None of us are that different really.
Richard Garrad, Leeds, England

You win some and you lose some. The Americans should adopt an adult attitude and accept that this is one that they've lost.
Dave, England

Bush is right to demand the immediate return of the USN crew. They are hostages held against their will. This crisis is due to Chinese desires to gain technological advance - at US expense. You cannot and must not negotiate with dictatorships. The only way this will de-escalate is when China hands back the USN crew and aircraft.
Ade Mansbridge, Bournemouth, UK

Give it a few days and it will all blow over. Everyone knows that everyone spies on everyone else. The Chinese are quite understandably making the most of the opportunity to humiliate the US by making them beg to get their aircrew back. The Chinese won't harm the airmen, they just want their pound of flesh and must be seen by their domestic audience to be castigating the US for the loss of a Chinese pilot who was just doing his job. The stand-off will last only until the Chinese have worked out how to put everything back in the plane after they've had a good look at it all.
James, England

The current situation with the Chinese government is intolerable

Ryan, USA
The current situation with the Chinese government is intolerable. The collision with one of our aircraft is a matter to be investigated, but detention of the crew is an entirely separate situation. The Chinese have been increasingly hostile to the United States. Their blatant lack of a timely response and denial of access to high-level government officials does serious damage to US-Sino relations. Flying outside a nation's airspace and monitoring communications is nothing new, and nothing illegal.
Ryan, USA

I don't think the public will ever be in a position to know what exactly happened. It is a typical intelligence problem. International relations are mostly controlled by what we are not supposed to know, rather then what we know.
Jennifer, UK

Since Bush was elected he's done nothing but antagonise the Europeans over the Kyoto Agreement and now the Chinese with his spy planes. Does he realise how much responsibility is now on his shoulders? Is the president saying sorry really such a big deal or are 24 people less important than his ego?
Martin, UK

I think that what Bush needs is a little lesson in manners, which is clearly what China is doing here. He needs to understand that he is not president of the world answering to no one. He needs to understand that outside the borders of the US, he's just another president.
Sam, Egypt/ UK

Come on China, send the men home and keep the plane. I think this would be a fair deal for everybody involved.
Volker, High Wycombe, England

A Chinese pilot lost his life in the collision. It wouldn't hurt the US government to swallow its pride and apologise. China would probably release the US crew immediately. People worldwide are becoming less tolerant of US policies and, therefore, more reluctant to come to the aid of such an arrogant nation in times of trouble. And so what if the Chinese dissected the spy-plane? The US would have done exactly the same in similar circumstance.
Deborah, England

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See also:

04 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Spy plane row escalates
03 Apr 01 | Media reports
Chinese press slams US 'arrogance'
30 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China arrests another US academic
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