China Silent as US Sends Diplomats to Stricken Navy Plane
China remained silent over the mid-air collision that damaged a US Navy surveillance plane Sunday, while US Embassy personnel were immediately dispatched to China's southern Hainan Island to monitor the situation.
"We've been in contact with Chinese government officials throughout the day," US Embassy spokesman Frank Neville told AFP.
"US mission personnel are heading to Hainan," he added.
He refused to comment on the US navy aircraft that was damaged after it was intercepted by two Chinese fighter jets during a surveillance mission over the South China Sea and forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan.
China's Foreign Ministry did not answer phone calls on Sunday, while officials at Hainan's two public airports in Haikou and Sanya said that no US Navy plane had landed at their airports.
"Nothing like that happened here, no US plane landed at our airport," an official at the Haikou airport told AFP by phone.
The US Navy EP-3 maritime patrol aircraft was on a routine surveillance mission over the South China Sea when it was intercepted by two Chinese fighter aircraft, US Pacific Command said.
Contact between one of the Chinese aircraft and the US EP-3 caused "sufficient damage" and forced the plane to issue a Mayday signal and request an emergency on Hainan Island, the US command said -- BEIJING (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)