|China and the United States were deadlocked on Tuesday in
the dispute over a U.S. spy plane and its 24 crew held in China, with
both sides sticking to their positions but still talking.
China continued to insist on a U.S. apology for the April 1 collision
between the U.S. EP-3 surveillance aircraft and a Chinese jet fighter
that crashed into the South China Sea. Its pilot is missing and presumed
President Bush has expressed regret for the incident and Secretary of
State Colin Powell has said Washington is ``sorry'' for the loss of life
-- using a word that Beijing took as a step forward.
``The U.S. use of the word sorry is a step in the right direction,
but we don't think this issue is fully solved. We still urge the U.S. to
take a positive attitude and take the stance of the Chinese side
seriously,'' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said. ``Since
the U.S. side has done something wrong first, it is purely their
responsibility to apologize.''
And there were a few other signs of movement in the worst crisis
between the two powers since NATO aircraft bombed the Chinese embassy in
Belgrade by mistake in May 1999 during alliance air strikes on the
China Relaxes Restrictions
China relaxed restrictions on the 24 crew confined to a guest house
in central Haikou, capital of Hainan island.
``They are being given additional privileges from previous meetings,
with regard to their freedom within the building, the ability to do
their PT (exercise) inside the building and things such as that,'' U.S.
Defense Attache Neal Sealock told reporters after a fifth meeting with
``The Chinese side, and in fact, the folks that are with them
provided some cigarettes for those who smoked, and they're getting just
about everything that they need,'' he said. ``I can't say enough about
the conditions that they're in. They're extremely good conditions.''
Bush said he was doing all he could to end the ``stalemate'' with
China and cautioned Americans that diplomacy took time.
``This administration is doing everything we can to end the stalemate
in an efficient way. We're making the right decisions to bring (it) to
an end,'' Bush told reporters. ``Diplomacy sometimes takes a little
longer than people would like.''
In a sign that public pressure may be building on Bush to find a
resolution, a poll showed most Americans viewed the 24 crew members as
The U.S. ambassador to China, Joseph Prueher, did not have any
meetings with the Chinese in Beijing on Tuesday, but State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said he was ``ready to see the Chinese again,
any time, any day, 24 hours a day, whenever they're ready to continue
The White House said contacts continued at other levels and it was
trying to strike a ``delicate balance'' between giving diplomacy time to
bring the crew back and seeing U.S.-Chinese relations harmed if the
10-day standoff drags on.
The White House politely rebuffed an offer by the Rev. Jesse Jackson,
the civil rights leader and former U.S. Democratic presidential
candidate, to try to broker a solution, saying it preferred using
regular government contacts.
Veteran Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew urged Washington not to
compromise with Beijing.
``Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew is urging the United
States to take an uncompromising stance toward the People's Republic of
China in negotiations concerning the return of the American spy
plane...,'' according to a report of an interview provided to Reuters by
the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked China's ambassador to
tell President Jiang Zemin he was worried ``that the current standoff
between the United States and China is not in the interests of either
country or, in fact, of the rest of us.''
Annan had conveyed a similar message to the United States, chief U.N.
spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
Jiang arrived in Uruguay on Tuesday to continue a Latin American tour
that has been overshadowed by the crisis. In Brazil, his next stop, a
foreign ministry official said U.S. officials had asked Brazil to raise
the dispute with the Chinese leader.