STANDOFF WITH CHINA
The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 12, 2001-- 5A
very sorry for entering
Chinese airspace, loss ofpilot
The Washington Post
Chen CI, director of Hainan Foreign Affairs Office, heads to a news conference at a Haikou hotel on China's Hainan islan
& sterday to announce China will release the 24 detained crew members of a U.S. spy plane it has held for 11 days on a
inese island where it made an emergency landing.
Presldent lkely tobeeflt frot
coo t11-day standof
BEIJING - In the end, it was a
matter of what the United States
chose to say and what China chose to
The letter that U.S. Ambassador
Joseph Prueher handed to Chinese
Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan yes-
terday asked Tang to "convey to the
Chinese people and to the family of
pilot Wang Wei that we are very
sorry for their loss."
And it said, "We are very sorry the
entering of China's airspace and the
landing did not have verbal clear-
The word "apology" did not appear
in the English-language document
handed to Tang.
But in announcing the U.S. move
and describing the letter to the Chi-
nese people, China chose to translate
the double "very sorry" as "shenbiao
gianyi," which means "a deep expres-
sion of apology or regret."
AP PHOTO And the deal was done, with both
id sides proclaiming they got what they
"In Chinese, you don't use that
phrase unless you're admitting you're
wrong and accepting responsibility,"
said Mei Renyi, director of the Amer-
ican Studies Center at Beijing For-
eign Studies University. "If they're
translating it that way, especially in
the context of a formal letter, it
means the U.S. is admitting it was
But a translation into Chinese
't likely released by the U.S. Embassy used
verseas other language. For "very sorry," it
benefit used the Chinese words "feichang
y meet- wanxi," which linguists described as
an expression of great sympathy but
is per- not an apology. It also used "feichang
foreign baoqian," or extremely sorry.
rinkley The resolution of the crisis that
ocketed started when a Chinese interceptor
yaquez and a U.S. intelligence plane collided
days by 11 days ago in international airspace
off China's southern coast has
gaining revealed a long list of historical, cul-
r in his tural, political and security differ-
In view of the tragic incident and based on my discussions with your
representative, we have agreed to the following actions:
Both sides agree to hold a meeting to discuss the incident. My
government understands and expects that our aircrew will be
permitted to depart China as soon as possible.
The meeting would start April 18, 2001.
The meeting agenda would include discussion of the causes of the
incident, possible recommendations whereby such collisions could
be avoided in the future, development of a plan for prompt return
of the EP-3 aircraft, and other related issues. We acknowledge
your government's intention to raise U.S. reconnaissance missions
near China in the meeting.
Joseph W. Prueher
The U.S. letter to China
A letter of regret from President Bush over the collision of a U.S. spy
plane and a Chinese fighter offers sympathy for the loss of the Chinese
fighter pilot but not a formal apology. The letter was handed over to the
Chinese foreign minister by U.S. Ambassador Joseph Prueher.
Dear Mr. Minister:
On behalf of the United States Government, I now outline steps to
resolve this issue.
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.
Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according
to our information, our severely crippled aircraft made an emergency
landing after following international emergency procedures. We
are very sorry the entering of China's airspace and the landing did
not have verbal clearance, but very pleased the crew landed safely.
We appreciate China's efforts to see to the well-being of our crew.
WASHINGTON - For President Bush, the first word that
the spy-plane stalemate with China was over came in a pre-
diwn phone call yesterday from his national security adviser.
According to aides, Bush said "That's great" when he
heard that China's state-run news media was reporting that
the U.S. air crew would be sent home.
But he hid his elation as he stepped before cameras two
hburs later and announced matter-of-factly that a diplomatic
deal had been struck.
"This has been a difficult situation for both our countries,"
4h said, reading a terse statement in the White House
briefing room. Ignoring reporters' questions, Bush turned
away from the microphones and headed to a previously
planned trip to North Carolina. Aides said he did not want to
say anything that might jeopardize the crew's release.
Bush's success in freeing the 24 crew members isn
to erase all doubts about his ability to manage an o
crisis. But if history is any guide, Bush will likely
politically, at least in the short term, from successfull
ing the first test of his young presidency.
The public's assessment of how well a president
forming his job typically rises in the aftermath of a
policy crisis. Presidential historian Douglas Br
recalled how President Gerald Ford's popularity skyro
after 39 crewmen from the U.S. merchant ship Ma
were rescued in 1975 after being held for several d
For Bush, standing firm against the Chinese and
the safe release of the crew would represent "a feathe
presidential cap," said Brinkley.
SOURCE: The White House
Ambiguities in translation between
two very different languages proved
to be key in the diplomacy that final-
ly won agreement to allow the EP-
3E s 24-member crew to return
"This gave the two countries
maneuverability." said Shen Dingli,
an expert on U.S.-China relations at
Fudan University in Shanghai. "The
United States could say it didn't apol-
ogize, and China could say it did."
At Hainan University last night,
outside a shop where a portrait of
Mao Zedong hung on a back wall,
law student Gozi Aixinjueluo com-
plained that China had once again
rolled over to stronger powers. "It's
so hard to bear," he said. "They vio-
lated our sovereignty and one of our
pilots is dead, so we shouldn't let
them go. I want our country to le
powerful and strong. ... This show s
that we're weak."
Family of Ann Arbor native awaits his return
.DETROIT (AP) - Relatives of Nicholas Mellos
Diced yesterday after hearing that the Navy
mechanic and 23 crewmates on a surveillance
plane held by China since April I were comina0
,"It's like a new world, a new days" Mellos's aunt,
Chris Mellos of Northvi le, told Detroit television sta-
tI* WDIV "I'm so thrilled."
"It's great. I'm very happy," cousin Aristides Mel-
los of Detroit said.
Aristides Mellos said he was not surprised about
China's announcement that the detained crew mem-
bers were being released. The White House expected
crew to be released late yesterday. then depart
li inan island on a U.S. government-chartered com-
mercial airliner, said a senior administration official
speaking on condition of anonymity.
'The family has waited patiently and "coped very
\xell" with the situation, Aristides Mellos said.
When Nicholas Mellos is able to visit his family in
Mi'chgan. they will "just get to4cther and have a
m al -- that's what Greeks do.' the Navy man's
icholas Mellos. 46, is a 1973 graduate of Pioneer
,h School in Ann Arbor, where he grew up the
only child of immigrant parents who ran a restaurant.
I1% is a 28-year Navy veteran. le is divorced and has
a'12-year-old son who lives with his ex-wife in
"I knew that it was not going to last for a long period
of time. It was just a matter of political posturing.
From what I've seen and read, I think the Bush
administration has done a good job."
- Aristides Mellos
Cousin of Nicholas Melos, Navy crewman who was detained in China
Mellos holds the rank of Aviation Machinist's Mate
Senior Chief Relatives and friends have said his cur-
rent job in the Navy involved classified duties that
Mellos rarely was able to discuss.
Aristidis Mellos. Nicholas' father, is dead, and his
mother. Mary, is in a Chicago-area nursing home.
The crew of the U.S. Navy EP-3EH surveillance
plane have been held on Hainan island in the South
China Sea since they made an emergency landing
there after a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter
Fighter pilot Wang Wei was killed, and China held
the U.S. crew while demandin that the U.S. issue a
full apology and accept blame for the collision. The
Bush administration did neither. but said it was "very
sorry~ that the C.S. plane landed on Chinese soil.
1I knew that it was not going to last for a long peri-
od of time," Aristides Mellos said of the crew's deten-
tion. "It was just a matter of political posturing. From
what I've seen and read, I think the Bush administra-
tion has done a good job.'
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Micn.) said he welcomed
news of China's agreement to release the crew.
'The Administration has handled this matter
appropriately, given the circumstances in which the
Chinese government placed them." Levin said in a
statement. "I believe the Chinese government took
far too lone to release our aircrew, and had no rea-
son to demand an apology for our aircrew landing
their crippled aircraft on Hainan Island after fol-
lowing standard international emergency proce-
"The Chinese government's behavior in this inci-
dent is a setback for U.S.-China relations."
The University of Michigan, College of LSA presents
Joel D. Blum
John D. MacArthur Professor in Geological Sciences
and Chair, Department of Geological Sciences
Eiivi ro irnen tal
Ac 5C.p, r rK
The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
presents the inaugural
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