Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2001 Hainan Island Incident seen by Chinese folks

EP-3 crew released by
Background: On April 1, 2001, when an EP-3 spy plane was operating about 110km away from China’s Hainan Island, two J-8II fighters of Chinese air force intercepted it. The EP-3 unfortunately was collided with one of the J-8II and caused the death of Chinese pilot Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei. After the EP-3 was forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan Lingshui Airport of China, the 24 crewmembers on the U.S. spy plane were detained until U.S. government issued a letter of apology.

Now nine years almost has passed. What is the understanding of Chinese folks to the incident? Let us read the translated story below stemming from a Chinese web post:

Regarding the U.S. EP-3 was forced to land in Hainan after the collision, the truth is like this:
The wingman of Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei did a wrong thing after he saw the collision. He only saw Lt. Cdr. Wang bailed out and was parachuting down, but he did not specifically observe the location and wait to see whether Wang would successfully float on the sea, because he had to anxiously do another important thing in that moment.   
He immediately occupied the attack position behind the EP-3 and requested with radio the base to shoot down the U.S. aircraft. Due to much faster speed of his fighter, his aircraft overtook the EP-3 and then returned back to the attack position again while he was requesting the attack. After he received the negative reply, he found he had to turn back to the base because of residual fuel.

The mid-air collision plus two consecutive tail-bites from the Chinese fighter really scared the wits out of the U.S. crew. When seeing the Chinese fighter left with a U turn, the U.S. crew thought it was a signal that Chinese fighter ordered them to follow behind. To save their own lives, these aerial rescales who were later granted by U.S. government with titles of “U.S. heroes” mistakenly decided to follow the fighter flying towards Hainan, although the damage from the collision still allow them to fly the plane back to their own base, and although their U.S. command center repeatedly asked them to return back.

Due to the difference on speed, the U.S. EP-3 landed on the Chinese Lingshui airport 20 minutes after the landing of the Chinese J-8II fighter. During this flight, the U.S. aircraft strictly followed the flight track of the Chinese fighter, for fare of being shot down due to their disobedience. Due to the poor performance of the U.S. crew, Chinese therefore turned from the passive side to the initiative on dealing with the collision.

Before and after the landing, the U.S. crew did destroy some of the equipment, but it was easy to damage the console but not the core equipment buried behind it; it was easy to conduct a logical deletion but not a thorough physical one. U.S. crew recalled that they had refused Chinese personnel to board on the plane. In fact, while the Chinese soldiers guarding the airport were surrounding the plane, the U.S. personnel on board had already been frightened to death. They required in vague and poor Chinese a POW treatment from Chinese soldiers.

Because of the negotiations in those days for China’s accession to WTO, China was restricted to get a better result in the subsequent process of dealing with the incident. Finally, The Chinese military angrily demanded that the U.S. dismantled the EP-3 into pieces and shipped the wreckage back, just as same as or as if the Chinese side had shot down the EP-3.

Above is a translation from a part of the Chinese web post Hope my readers will feel interested after reading it.