EP-3 Leftover

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 29, 2005 | Go to article overview

EP-3 Leftover


Byline: Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

EP-3 leftover

U.S.-Chinese military relations are still strained from the aftermath of the April 2001 midair collision between a U.S. EP-3 surveillance aircraft and a Chinese F-8 jet over international waters near China.

Defense officials said that despite the resumption of the Defense Consultative Talks - the latest round was held yesterday - the EP-3 incident has not been completely resolved.

The 23-member U.S. crew of the EP-3 made an emergency landing at a Chinese military base on Hainan island. Instead of getting help, the Americans were promptly imprisoned by Chinese troops and held for 11 days.

The Chinese then stripped the aircraft of its equipment and cut up the plane so it could be brought back to the United States in pieces.

The final indignity was Beijing's demand that the United States pay China $1 million. When the Pentagon responded to the demand by presenting a check for $63,000 to Chinese officials, the check was refused. It is still sitting in the Pentagon, we are told.

The payment dispute did not come up during the visit yesterday of a delegation of Chinese military officials led by Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the general staff.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday declined to meet with Gen. Xiong, the third time he has turned down a meeting with the general. The U.S. side was represented in the talks by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy.

Rummy's critique

While conducting a town hall meeting in Kandahar recently, a soldier asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld why the press doesn't report more positive news about Afghanistan's fledgling democracy.

"I do know this," Mr. Rumsfeld answered in part, "that the people who come to this country and go to Iraq and come out are struck by the contrast, the stark contrast between what they see in terms of progress and contribution by the men and women in uniform, what they see as opposed to what they read and hear.

"I don't know what the answer is, but I can tell you this: Our country's been around for well over 200 years now, and it suggests that the American people have a pretty good center of gravity."

Chairman of the board

Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace is Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's and the president's choice to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There are good reasons.

The two see eye to eye on the need to transform the military and to kill or capture al Qaeda to take down the deadly organization.

But there's more. Gen. Pace is an unabashed supporter of his demanding boss. And that support was never needed more than in the summer of 2004 when the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was prompting some Democrats to call for Mr. Rumsfeld's head.

Gen. Pace momentarily turned a May 11, 2004, town hall meeting at the Pentagon into a pep rally.

"There's not a single human being in this government, and certainly not in this building, who works harder or is more dedicated or is a better patriot than is Secretary Rumsfeld," Gen.

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