Chinese President: US Fully Responsible for Plane Crisis
China's President Jiang Zemin on Tuesday placed blame for the mid-air collision of an American spy plane and a Chinese military jet squarely on the United States.
"The responsibility lies fully with the US side," Jiang was quoted as saying by foreign ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao at the ministry's regular briefing.
Jiang also told visiting Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar that China had "sufficient evidence" the US side was responsible for the mid-air collision, the official Xinhua news agency said.
"It is the US plane, in violation of flying rules, that made dangerous moves, bumped into and destroyed our plane and caused our pilot (to go) missing," he said.
"We don't know why the US side conducts frequent reconnaissance so close to China," Zhu also quoted Jiang as saying. "The United States should stop such flights."
The president additionally called for every effort to find the missing Chinese pilot, Xinhua said.
"What is most precious is human life," he said.
The EP-3 spy plane, carrying 24 crew members, landed at a military base in Hainan after a collision with a Chinese F-8 fighter jet in international air space.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhu on Tuesday said the US plane failed to send a signal that it had entered Chinese airspace after the collision and that it intended to land at the base.
The spy plane is packed with high-tech monitoring equipment, and US President George W. Bush has demanded its immediate return.
While declining to directly say if Chinese officials had boarded the plane, Zhu hinted China believed it had the right to investigate it.
"All sovereign countries have the right to investigate into such planes in accordance with international and domestic law," he said – BEIJING (AFP)
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