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|Thursday, April 12, 2001, updated at 09:30(GMT+8)|
US Says 'Very Sorry', 24 People to Leave ChinaChinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said in Beijing on April 11 that since the US Government has already said "very sorry'' to the Chinese people, the Chinese government has, out of humanitarian considerations, decided to allow the 24 people on the US spy plane to leave China after completing the necessary procedures.
Tang said he received a letter, handed by US Ambassador to China at 5:30 pm (09:30 GMT) at China's foreign ministry. In the letter, the US government said "very sorry'' for the incident of a US military reconnaissance plane ramming into and destroying a Chinese military aircraft.
While receiving the letter, Tang said that the US side must take full responsibility for the incident, provide convincing explanations to the Chinese people, stop its reconnaissance activities above the Chinese coast and take actions to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
"Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and aircraft. Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss," the US letter said. The US side goes on to say that its is "very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance.''
The US side has also expressed its appreciation of "China's efforts to see to the well being" of its crew.
According to the sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the case has not been closed. The two sides will hold talks soon to discuss the cause of the incident and ways for the US side to stop dispatching its reconnaissance aircraft to the vicinity of the Chinese coast and prevent the recurrence of such incidents, and other related issues.
Tang told Prueher that the Chinese side understands the American people and families of the crew are eagerly looking forward to an early return of the crew and a reunion with them, the Chinese government has decided to allow the crew members to leave China after completing necessary procedures.
Tang also emphasized that ever since the US military reconnaissance plane rammed into and destroyed a Chinese military plane, the Chinese side has all along handled this incident with calmness and restraint and in accordance with international law and the provisions of relevant laws of China.
The competent departments in China have, out of humanitarian considerations, treated the 24 crew members of the US diplomatic and consular officers. Tang said he noted that the US side expressed in the letter its appreciation to the Chinese side for all this.
The foreign minister also pointed out that this is not the conclusion of the case involving the US military plane ramming into a Chinese aircraft, causing the missing of the Chinese pilot, entering the Chinese airspace and landing at a Chinese airfield without permission. The two sides will continue with the negotiations on the matter and other related issues.
The Chinese Government and people demand that the US side provide convincing explanations to the Chinese people on this incident, stop sending aircraft to the vicinity of the Chinese coast for reconnaissance activities and take effective measures to avert the recurrence of similar incidents.
The US side must understand fully the seriousness of the incident, take seriously the solemn position of the Chinese side and properly handle this incident. It must not make an erroneous judgment and further damage the bilateral relations.
Minister Tang finally stressed that China's sovereign independence, territorial integrity and national dignity brook no infringement. It is China's consistent position that state-to-state relations, including China-US relations, must be based on such basic norms governing international relations as mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
The Chinese side attaches importance to China-US relations. To develop friendly relations and cooperation between China and the US serves the interests of both countries and the world at large. It is hoped that the US will strictly abide by the three China-US Joint Communiqu��s and the basic norms governing international relations and will refrain from doing anything more to impair the bilateral relations. The US should take a constructive attitude and work with the Chinese side to bring the bilateral relations onto the track of normal development.
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