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[P]
Sino-American Relations on the Brink of Collapse?

By AgentGray in Op-Ed
Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 01:50:19 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

A United States surveillance plane collided with a Chinese plane this last Sunday. The Chinese pilot and plane are presumed lost. However, the U.S. crew were forced to land in Chinese territory. Tensions are already high between the two countries. This incident appears to have escalated that tension to another level.


Negotiations are still ongoing between the two countries as the United States is trying to get the crew of twenty-four and the plane back in U.S. hands. The Chinese are detaining the crew and asking for a formal apology from the U.S. government.

I find this strategy from the Chinese to be very interesting. They are very concerned about the United States' current negotiations to sell advanced weaponry to Taiwan, but then they go to the trouble of making things difficult for the U.S. The Chinese do make a point in saying that the airplane and crew violated China's sovereignty by landing uninvited on Chinese soil.

Apparently the plane, to put it bluntly, is a spy plane. It is reported that the crew destroyed most of the sensitive tools and data while the plane was making its descent. However, it is also believed that the plane has been looked over very closely by the Chinese government.

U.S. officials in China have repeatedly said that it has been difficult contacting Chinese authorities through regular channels. It doesn't appear as if the Chinese are trying to make things easy.

Where does this put the United States? The Bush administraton has repeatedly said that they will not be issuing any formal apology. However, this policy may backfire. It may have been wiser to say they will not issue any apology until they have been able to investigate the incident to the fullest detail. It would then be up to the Chinese to cooperate.

As a side note to raise another question, how would the U.S. handle an incident like this? A U.S. reporter was walking the streets of Beijing asking people there for their opinions. One person had stated that if a Chinese plane had been forced to land in New Jersey, the U.S. would be acting the say way. Could this be true? I would have to say no. Why? Media.

Do the Chinese have the upper hand because they have the crew and plane, or do the United States because of the possibility of selling weapons to Taiwan?

How do other Americans view this incident? The Chinese? Other people around the world? I'm curious as to what the multinational users of K5 have to say.

Sources: cnn.com, nytimes.com, and NPR.

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Sino-American Relations on the Brink of Collapse? | 100 comments (94 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Very interesting (3.66 / 3) (#2)
by enterfornone on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 09:51:14 AM EST

After years of virtually ignoring chinese human rights abuses, something relatively trivial has caused the US to put their foot down.

Personally I think one side will cave and this will be forgotten in a week, but the possibilities are interesting. The US are happy to flex their muscles againts wimps like Iraq, but are they willing to stick to their guns against a country like China?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
... as in the Chinese curse (none / 0) (#6)
by Alias on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:10:40 AM EST

When "flexing muscles" involves nuclear weapons on both sides, I wish they would do it on another planet. Some place like Pluto, for example, where they don't risk breaking anything important...

---


Stéphane "Alias" Gallay -- Damn! My .sig is too lon
[ Parent ]
money & nukes (3.00 / 2) (#10)
by rebelcool on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:41:12 AM EST

china is a big country with lots of economic interests. america really doesnt want to crush those. oh yes, they have nukes too.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Don't think so (none / 0) (#82)
by one61803 on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 12:01:02 AM EST

Some things the US can do and why they won't work:

1. Bomb China

Unlike Iraq or Serbia, China has the ability to attack the US (with nukes no less). The US can't afford to risk starting a war by bombing China.

2. Impose sanctions

This won't work for several reasons. First, the majority of China's trade is with Taiwan (whose citizens have invested billions into the mainland). Second, all the lobbyists for the big businesses will do their damnest to see that sanctions are not imposed. Third, I'm not so sure that China's other trading partners (the EU, Japan, Korea, etc.) will go along with sanctions. After all, with US businesses unable to compete in the China market, it would be a golden opportunity for them.

3. Block China's entry into the WTO, block China's bid for the Olympic games, etc.

While these actions will have damaging effects, I'm pretty sure that China's leaders would sacrifice these things rather than cave into US demands and thus lose face. This is especially true now as there will be a congress next year to determine China's next generation of leaders. No leader or aspiring leader in China can afford to be perceived to be cowering to US demands.

[ Parent ]
Bombing china (none / 0) (#87)
by cameldrv on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 01:14:46 AM EST

We could bomb the plane itself which would be reasonably defensible, and the Chinese would never use nuclear weapons over something like this. They have the capability to hit one or two west-coast cities, and we can destroy their entire country.

[ Parent ]
Scarcely surprising (4.60 / 5) (#7)
by imperium on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:14:47 AM EST

For what it's worth, it seems pretty likely that the smaller, faster fighter plane caused the "accident". However, Bush and Jiang debating who should apologise to who reminds me of nothing more than two playground bullies both trying to bluff the other one. There'll be tears before bedtime.

The idea initially put out that the American plane is "sovereign US territory" is a novel one, as well. In similar circumstances (a damaged Chinese spyplane lands on Hawaii, and a US airman is missing), the Americans would certainly conduct an investigation into the incident before releasing the men, and would certainly also examine the plane for evidence that it had been spying on them. American popular opinion would expect nothing less. A casualty!? Surely not in this age of high-altitude bombing of civilians?!

Finally, this is the sort of incident we can expect more of, only a few days after the "Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, a Cold War veteran, says America needs new, long-range nuclear bombers with which to 'fight and win a nuclear war' in the Far East, a plain reference to China." (quote from the Guardian).

Imagine it the other way round. How would America respond to a Chinese statement that they intended to wipe out the "hegemonic power" with nuclear weapons? Probably not in the most civil terms, and perhaps a beginning might be made by supplying Taiwan with advanced anti-missile systems.

I don't have sympathy for the Chinese regime, nor the Bush regime. However, I also don't want a war, thanks very much. Sort it out.

x.
imperium

International rules (2.87 / 8) (#8)
by DeadBaby on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:29:06 AM EST

I'm not positive this is actually a written rule (and if it was, I'm not sure China ever agreed to it or otherwise has any reason to enforce it) but when aircrafts or boats are having serious problems that might threaten human life all countries should allow safe landing and facilitate repairs on the vehicle.

Given China's absolute lack of respect for human life, it wouldn't shock me if they just laughed their little minds out over such a unwritten act of human decency.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Not military craft (none / 0) (#54)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 01:58:49 PM EST

(see subject)
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Exchange the place for a second (3.50 / 6) (#11)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:44:13 AM EST

What if it is a Chinese spy plane, peeking outside US's airspace, and caused a US fighter jet to crash into sea and the pilot missing (and presumbly dead), and finally, lands on US soil? What do you think what would be US government's reactions? Let it go easily? I think not!

Caused? (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:59:52 AM EST

You are assuming the spy plan caused the accident and not the other way around.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Perception is the key (3.00 / 1) (#35)
by theboz on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:08:18 PM EST

I tried to post this earlier but for some reason when I clicked post, kuro5hin logged me out. Fuckin' cookies!

Who actually caused the accident is irrelevant now. The problem is a matter of what is percieved to have happened. In the situation mentioned by darthaya, it would be looked at as if the Chinese spy plane was invading the U.S. and the brave pilot tried to warn the plane away and gave his life for his country. Crap like this is easily spun into an emotional lie that makes Americans feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I think the same is going on in China. If it were the other way around, the U.S. would probably be less civil than the Chinese and the 24 prisoners would be given a mock trial and sentenced to death or life in prison for some invented reasons.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

I sorta agree (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:23:01 PM EST

I agree with you about the preception thing, but I disagree that the us would be less civil than China in dealing with this. I know the US is K5's most hated bad guy but what goes on in the us is still NOTHING compared to human rights violations and whatnot in China.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
In this case... (none / 0) (#77)
by theboz on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:29:08 PM EST

I am sure that the government would be able to make it sound like they had some evil intent, then give them a trial and execute them.

This is different than how the U.S. treats it's citizens of course, and that is where China really has a bad reputation. In fact, probably the only reason the crew of that spy plane are still alive is because China doesn't want to completely piss off the U.S.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

All the reports from western media (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:47:39 AM EST

Talk about "how much" the 24 crew member's families want them back safely.. blah blah blah..

How about the missing Chinese pilot's family? Don't they want a little bit revenge also?

Revenge? (5.00 / 2) (#14)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:58:44 AM EST

Revenge for what? Do you think a propeller driven plane with 20+ people intentionally rammed a jet?

It was an accident, the Chinese are blowing it WAY out of proportion.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Mid air crash (4.75 / 4) (#13)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:55:56 AM EST

Let's be realistic about this. China is claiming the bulky, slow, propeller driven airplane filled with 20+ people and probably millions in sensitive spy equipment intentionally rammed a smaller, faster jet fighter? And the Chinese population is buying this story? They must have a media machine that puts AOL/Time Warner to shame for that insane theory to be accepted.

It was at best a simple airplane collision over international waters, nobody at fault (although as in water, smaller, more manuverable craft must give right of way to larger slower craft). At worst it was a suicide mission on the part of a China jet fighter but I really really doubt the pilot of the spy plane would risk his life and 20 some other lives along with all the equipment to hit a lowly China jet.

So what is the US to do this matter? So far they seem to be handling it pretty well but public opinion here is going to go south real quick toward China if they keep holding the crew. I honestly hope this does not go any further than this because we could have a serious international incident on our hands in a matter of days.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Let's think of an analogy for a second (4.50 / 4) (#18)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:12:42 AM EST

Imagine you are driving a honda civic along side a huge friehgtliner truck at, say, 50mph. And suddenly the truck made a turn. Do you think you can avoid the accident?

Besides, the Chinese fighter jet is a very old model and does not operate/manuver well in lower airspace. So make your honda civic with a handicapped steering wheel.

[ Parent ]

A few comments (4.33 / 3) (#22)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:21:36 AM EST

Ok, first off, I want to know how you knew I drive a Honda Civic :)

Seriously, everything you said is true, but I would have to say that the jet was WAY too close if that is the case. This is airspace, not a road. If I was passing a truck on a wide flat plane, I wouldn't do it 2 feet away from the truck. As close as the jets were reported to be simple turbulance could have caused this accident.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
THat is how it works (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:44:36 AM EST

In order to force the US spy plane go AWAY, the Chinese fighter jet HAS to be close.

[ Parent ]
But (4.75 / 4) (#33)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:59:35 AM EST

If they are in international airspace (as everyone seems to be reporting) than the Chinese have NO right to force it to do anything. In that case what they did was simply reckless and irresposible flying and it resulted in an accident. I still fail to see why the US should offer an appology.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
destroyers (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by jeanlucpikachu on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:46:30 PM EST

We moved three destroyers into the area to look for the Chinese Pilot when the Chinese told us to fuck off. That was our 'apology', they didn't accept it.

National pride be goddamned to hell if you have to lose one of your nation's defenders for the sake of saving face.

--
Peace,
Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
[ Parent ]
Re: destroyers (none / 0) (#51)
by SEAL on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 01:32:46 PM EST

The Chinese don't want U.S. warships tracking and collecting sonar data on their sub(s).

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]
That (none / 0) (#52)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 01:41:48 PM EST

That, and they know that if we found their missing pilot, we would hold him until our pilot and crew are released. And rightfully so, IMHO.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
No sir you are misinformed (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 04:58:29 PM EST

The fact was that Bush was trying to threaten china by using 3 destroyers if you have read the news more carefully. That was a silly idea, nonetheless. :)

[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#88)
by finkployd on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 08:08:43 AM EST

The three destroyers offered to help look for the missing pilot. They were rejected. I'm sure they also would have been symbols of intimidation and if they had found the pilot I'm sure we would have held him until our crew was released (rightfully so, IMHO). Read the news just a little more carefully and you will find they did in fact offer to help. Whatever their ulterior motive was is anyone's guess but don't jump on this guy for not reading the news, he was technically correct.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Instead,.. (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by eightball on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:26:23 AM EST

The US government should have commandeered some civilian vessels, flown them at great expense half way across the world to start our cooperative search.

Tell me, how many non-military sea worthy vessels do you think the US government has in that area?

[ Parent ]
Missing one piece of data (none / 0) (#61)
by MrAcheson on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:27:57 PM EST

Would you do that in a freightliner, if the civic on the other side of you could blow you away? No I seriously doubt you would take any dangerous action. Besides, why would the spy plane be in lower airspace since this is not the logical place for an ELINT platform to be. ELINT requires some altitude to get good range.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Examining the analogy. (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by meldroc on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 08:59:32 PM EST

Imagine you are driving a honda civic along side a huge friehgtliner truck at, say, 50mph. And suddenly the truck made a turn. Do you think you can avoid the accident?

You (the Civic driver) shouldn't be hovering inside the truck's blind spot (semis have large blind spots) as the truck driver can't see you. If the truck made the turn and hit you, it's your own damn fault.

The Chinese fighter jets were essentially doing the same thing. The U.S. had filed complaints with China months before this incident because Chinese fighters were making aggressive maneuvers when intercepting U.S. aircraft, creating a safety hazard.

Besides, the Chinese fighter jet is a very old model and does not operate/manuver well in lower airspace. So make your honda civic with a handicapped steering wheel.

Those Chinese jets were a lot more maneuverable than the U.S. ELINT aircraft, which is much larger and slower, and has been described as having terrible flight characteristics. The fighters clearly had the responsibility to stay out of the way of the larger U.S aircraft.

[ Parent ]

Incorrect (5.00 / 3) (#42)
by skipio on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:24:33 PM EST

As it's name implies, the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation treaty only covers civilian aircrafts. This Georgetown law professor must have somewhat "liberal" understanding of the said treaty as Article 3 of the convention clearly states that:
(a) This Convention shall be applicable only to civil aircraft, and shall not be applicable to state aircraft.
(b) Aircraft used in military, customs and police services shall be deemed to be state aircraft.
And even though the plane may be a US property the Chinese have overlapping jurisdiction because it's a military plane and it landed on Chinese soil.
Btw, it's rather funny that the Georgetown law professor thinks the Chicago Convention covers military airplanes because Article 16 of the convention states that:
The appropriate authorities of each of the contracting States shall have the right, without unreasonable delay, to search aircraft of the other contracting States on landing or departure.
In nutshell, there are no international laws that cover military aircrafts in this situation and therefor the Chinese government has every right to examine the plane.

[ Parent ]
A theory (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:14:23 AM EST

I haven't seen anybody else (here or in "the media") advance this theory, and I know nothin' about nothin'.

The previous administration was getting closer and closer to "normalizing" relations with China. The new administration doesn't want that. So the new admin teases the Chinese by sending Top Secret technology right past their noses. Finally, they take a chance and grab one, using a mid-air collision as a cover. The US is now justified in breaking off the "normalization" and going in an entirely new direction.

The only thing unexplained is the Chinese refusal to hand it all back over (after searching it thouroughly). I can think of two explanations:

1) In order to make their cover story plausible, they have to wait for an apology.
2) The plane either didn't really have any secret stuff OR it's hidden so well they are having trouble finding it.

Play 囲碁
Explanations (none / 0) (#48)
by ucblockhead on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:54:47 PM EST

3) They know that they have the upper hand, and want to humiliate the US in general and the newly elected president in particular.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Another Theory (none / 0) (#64)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:57:02 PM EST

The Chinese, knowing full well that the Bush administration was not going to kowtow to them, as had the previous administration (which the Chinese had purchased), decided to poke the US in the nose.

To me, it is highly likely that the Chinese are being a little more agressive because of Taiwan. They see Taiwan as a renegade province that needs to be brought back into the fold.

The US, OTOH, sees Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Now, when you have such contention, and high-priced military hardware in close proximity, Bad Things(tm) are going to happen.

This one just happened to turn out to be a boon for the Chinese, both in terms of intelligence and in PR.

Just another theory.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

This article might clear it up (5.00 / 1) (#81)
by one61803 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:45:38 PM EST

This article from the Taipei times gives the real reason why the spy plane was brought down.

[ Parent ]
The only thing wrong with that theory.. (none / 0) (#90)
by eightball on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:31:43 AM EST

The premise is flawed. The current administration did not start these flights, they have been going on for many years (including your precious Clinton years ; ).

Do you wish to amend you theory, stating that the Bush administration was teasing the Chinese by not changing a regular flight path of a military vehicle?

[ Parent ]
"My precious Clinton years"? (none / 0) (#93)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 10:38:20 AM EST

Who the hell said anything about me liking Clinton?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Kidding, for goodness sake (none / 0) (#98)
by eightball on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 05:27:24 PM EST

I used the international symbol for 'nudge, nudge, wink, wink' - ; )

[ Parent ]
One more factor (2.87 / 8) (#20)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:15:40 AM EST

Bush is being very aggressive in his speech. He "demands" the Chinese government to return the airplane and later on "allows the chinese government time to do the right thing". Who the heck does he think he is???

China is a sovereign state that has its own authority, and that authority does not have to listen or obey the orders from washington D.C. like Mr. Bush has wished. He is just making things harder to resolve.

Ummmm...international law? (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:25:38 AM EST

According to the international law professor I heard on NPR last night, China is on some shaky legal ground. There doesn't seem to be a provision for downed military aircraft, but there IS one for watercraft in distress. If the plane had been a boat, China would have broken international law.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
IL (none / 0) (#29)
by darthaya on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:47:24 AM EST

I am not familiar with International laws, but I would think it is very subjective, and all works on how it is being interpreted.

[ Parent ]
Perhaps you are not familiar ... (none / 0) (#44)
by Anonymous 7324 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:47:41 PM EST

but there is no such thing as "international law" per se, only a network of agreements (i.e. treaties and conventions) arrived at by various soverign states.

Breaking treaties may have legal implications, but enforcement, especially against a significant military power like China, isn't easy. And if you don't enforce it, then you let it slide.

But if you do enforce, then you're effectiving deciding to go to war. In which case, there's no need for the treaty in the first place, since countries really can declare war on each other nilly willy as they desire, since they _are_ soverign states.

[ Parent ]
The reality of internation law (none / 0) (#79)
by one61803 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:41:42 PM EST

Internation law is just a collection of treaties and informal agreements between countries. It has no coercive force behind it and as a result "international law" is only respected as long as it is not opposed to a country's national interest.

[ Parent ]
Familiar territory (3.33 / 6) (#21)
by Nezumi on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:15:50 AM EST

This is awfully familiar territory for two reasons, and those together make me suspicious.

First, almost the exact same thing happened almost half a century ago, during the Cold War. A US spy plane (a U2) was brought down over Soviet territory and a great furor erupted out of it. However, it did not end in much more than further sabre rattling. And it shouldn't do so this time, safe for the second familiar thing.

The Gulf War. A conflict prepared far in advance through US involvement in the politics of a pre-existing situation. Two nations, already tense, find themselves through US involvement at a flashpoint. Careful spin at home makes this a convenient show of strength for the President and mobilizes the nation toward a common goal (and conveniently forces non-war stories out of the news). This feels terribly familiar, as China is demonized in the US press and the whole incident grabs more and more air time on the major networks, just when Dubya needs it.

Personally, I hope that this blows over eventually just as the U2 incident did. But I don't expect it to.



"Just when Dubya needs it"? (none / 0) (#23)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:22:16 AM EST

What story is Bush trying to push out of the news? There are two main stories out there:

1) Tax bill. Since Bush has been stumping to get popular support, I doubt he wants the media to stop talking about it.

2) Campaign Finance Reform. Since Bush can veto it, he doesn't really need to kill it with PR.

For that matter, what story was Bush Sr trying to force out of the news? And if that was the full explanation, why have sanctions and patrolling continued for 10 years (including 8 years by an "oppostion" administration)?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Campaign Finance Reform (none / 0) (#27)
by enterfornone on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:41:32 AM EST

Campaign Finance Reform. Since Bush can veto it, he doesn't really need to kill it with PR.
I've never really looked at it, but if he were to veto a popular bill he would certainly need a distraction.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Misdirecting probably a better word (none / 0) (#36)
by Nezumi on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:10:23 PM EST

I don't pretend to be so astute as to know what Bush wants to hide, but he certainly wants to misdirect the public from his approval rating, cuts to social programs, continued plans to allow drilling in reserves and similar things. A good show of "strength" that dominates the media for a while is just the thing to distract the people from such things.

As far as continuing sanctions go, that seems fairly obvious, and equally tied in to public relations. Mostly it had to do with wanting to show that they weren't soft on this "rogue nation". The American people had been worked over for long enough by Bush's propaganda machine, it would have required a major effort to change that public opinion. So why bother, when just continuing the sanctions required so much less maintenance?

This is to say nothing of Israel's stake in the matter and, at home, the fact that the Republicans had enough clout still to make retaliation against such a move an unpleasant prospect.

As to the Senior Bush, I find it hard to believe he had any fewer skeletons to hide than the Shrub. The Gulf War meant, aside from easily-brushed-off artists and protestors, a galvanized people a legacy of strength and a quite dandy approval rating. Pretty nice, considering he didn't need to put his neck on the line to do it.



[ Parent ]
What Bush needs... (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by ucblockhead on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:51:51 PM EST

Hmmm...that's funny, because I read this just the oppposite. Seems to me this is a Chinese attempt to humiliate Bush. (And I suspect, given the way these things usually pan out, that it will work.)


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

It's probably both (none / 0) (#50)
by Nezumi on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 01:10:55 PM EST

I can't see the Chinese and the American administrations colluding on this, so it's likely they've both got their own agendas. But keep in mind that it was Bush who made such a fuss about it instead of publicly denying the plane's existence and trying to get it back by purely diplomatic means.

The Chinese just seem to be taking advantage of a situation that fell into their lap, quite literally.



[ Parent ]
Oh, give me a break (none / 0) (#91)
by eightball on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:42:42 AM EST

If Bush had 'publicly den[ied] the plane's existence' there would be no way in heck anybody, probably including you, would believe the US military was not responsible for this.

In a world (meaning not necessarily this one), the Chinese WERE responsible for this: sent plane to harrass the surveillance plane, if the pilot just broke up with his girlfriend, so be it. Then, vigorously demanding an apology would help distract away their responsibility.
[DISCLAIMER - as I tried to posit this as a hypothetical, few will pay attention to this. I am just speaking about diplomatic strategies]

[ Parent ]
Don't expect war (none / 0) (#31)
by caine on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:52:32 AM EST

I'm sorry to say, or more correctly glad :), to say that it won't be the Gulf War again. This is for one simple reason: Going into war with China is suicide. No matter how good and technically advanced the US military is, we're talking about 1.2 billion people, with the largest airforce in existance. Of course, China can in no way attack the US either. But attacking China on homeground would just be suicide for everyone involved.

--

[ Parent ]

Bodies don't win wars... (1.50 / 2) (#32)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:56:31 AM EST

...brains do.

Sure, China has 1.2 billion people--but how many of them can drive a car, let alone fly an airplane or launch a missle? Long gone are the days when, if you threw enough bodies on enough bayonets, you'd eventually win. Nowadays it takes high-tech and the training to use it.

I have no doubt at all that China could win a war with the US--but only after a massive education and training expenditure.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Biased but... (none / 0) (#34)
by caine on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:07:31 PM EST

Let me say this, don't underestimate China. They are not the development country some think them to be. *Don't read if you're sensitive to flames* In my biased opinion you're more likely to find people smarter there on an average than in the US.

--

[ Parent ]

Irrelevant... (none / 0) (#38)
by Rocky on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:15:15 PM EST

This question of "who would win" is largely irrelevant since both countries possess nuclear weapons. The one that would be pushed to the brink of destruction would probably start using them. The only difference is that the United States has prepared for this sort of terrible mess (subs, ICBMs, Cheyenna Mountain). Has China?

God help us.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Yes and no. (none / 0) (#45)
by ucblockhead on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:47:53 PM EST

It all depends where the war was fought. The Chinese could win a war, but only if that war were fought on the ground, where the Chinese army could get at the US army, simply because of the massive differences in the numbers of soldiers.

But they'd lose any naval or air action bigtime.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Biowarfare (none / 0) (#66)
by sigwinch on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 06:25:22 PM EST

The Chinese would also lose big time against bioweapons. The U.S. could easily kill several hundred million with, say, influenza, and start the land invasion while the survivors were still deathly sick. It'd even be fairly deniable. And of course "superior U.S. medicine" (*cough* stockpiled vaccine *cough*) would keep domestic casaulties low.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

But China has Nukes (none / 0) (#78)
by one61803 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:37:33 PM EST

... as well as chemical and biological weapons and the means to launch them at the US.

[ Parent ]
Sneak bioweapon attack (none / 0) (#97)
by sigwinch on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 03:53:39 PM EST

True, but I was thinking more about waging a subtle preliminary attack with a highly-contagious variety of something nonlethal, like influenza. If everybody gets the flu, is it a prelude to an invasion? Or just one of those things that happens from time to time?

As to China being able to deliver weapons, their nuke launch capability is comparatively poor. The bioweapons are the worry: one person with a jar can deliver them.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

ahem (none / 0) (#46)
by jeanlucpikachu on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:51:18 PM EST

Last year, a report from the DoD (or was it Jane's?) indicated that only one third of the planes earmarked for an invasion of Taiwan actually have the range to make it there. If they can't fucking bomb Taiwan, they're gonna have problems coordinating a defense against our Air Force.

On the other hand, most plans vs. Taiwan involve lots and lots of ballistic missiles followed up by amphibious assaults. They may have tons of people, but our air to air superiority is unmatched. Hitting targets on the ground, well, don't believe the hype. But I think there were enough red faces in the Pentagon after the numbers finally came in on the Kosovo Air War that we're taking steps to fix that.

--
Peace,
Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
[ Parent ]
What gets me is... (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by Paradocis on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:33:12 AM EST

That Bush stalwartly refuses to apologize, as if there's no earthly reason why China should possibly be offended by a spy plane is absolutly ridiculous. If a Chinese spy plane crashed here (the US), public opinion and the administration would not only demand an apology, but possibly blood.

The fact that both parties already know that they're being spied on doesn't make it any more... polite.


-=<Paradocis>=-
+++++++++++++++++++++
"El sueño de la razon produce monstruos." -Goya
+++++++++++++++++++++


I thought the same thing... (none / 0) (#26)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:40:32 AM EST

...until I learned that:

1) The spy plane was in "international air space" when the collision occurred.

2) All nations (that can afford to) spy on all other nations "from the sidelines" all the time.

3) There are international laws regarding exactly how this can be done and the US didn't break any.

What's not clear is if China broke any laws.

OTOH, non-legalistically speaking, I agree with you. The polite fiction is that we are NOT spying on each other and so evidence to the contrary warrants, IMHO, an apology.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
What is the US to be apologizing for? (none / 0) (#100)
by magney on Sat Apr 07, 2001 at 01:30:28 AM EST

If the US is supposed to be apologizing for spying on China, then I'm not so upset about that, and Bush can apologize for that all he wants.

My impression, though, is that the Chinese want us to apologize for the loss of one of their pilots. That's not so clear cut...

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Different views on spying (4.00 / 1) (#30)
by ignatiusst on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:48:03 AM EST

The fact that both parties already know that they're being spied on doesn't make it any more... polite.

I think most Americans (and I will go out on a limb here and say most Western European) peoples look at the issue of spying in an entirely different view from the Chinese.

If you were to tell me (an American), that my government was spying on your government - whether your government is allied with or hostile to the US - I would shrug and reply, "Of course."

It has been my observation, though, that most Chinese react entirely differently. When the US accused China of stealing our nuclear secrets, my reaction was, "Of course." My wife (a Chinese) reacted entirely different.. She was outraged that we (the US) should even suggest that China was doing something as ignoble as spying on the United States and stealing its secrets. Her Chinese friends generally had the same reaction.

If China is going to place itself in the big league of international superpowers, it needs to learn to play this unfortunate game with a little more tact.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Please clarify (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by eightball on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 09:47:37 AM EST

Are you saying the Chinese government is comprised of people like your wife (and trust me, we would all rejoice if this were so) or that their government is comprised of people unlike your wife.

[ Parent ]
An attempted clarification.. (5.00 / 1) (#96)
by ignatiusst on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 03:02:17 PM EST

Are you saying the Chinese government is comprised of people like your wife...or that their government is comprised of people unlike your wife.
It is hard to address this question with anything approaching a straight face.. Not that the question itself is silly (it is a dead-serious question), but because any answer is necessarily absurd. Spying is, after all, theft, and it is hard to defend or justify stealing without feeling like a politician (that is to say, without feeling dirty..).

I am not sure I know the real answer to your question, but, for what it's worth, here's my opinion.. I think that the Chinese government is comprised of people just like my wife insofar as my wife is very patriotic and has a sharp sense of honor. But the same can be said for the American government and its people, too. I don't think you can separate the Chinese from their government any more so than you can separate Americans from their's.

The Chinese government is pretty analogous to the American government in that both spy, steal secrets, etc.al.. It is the reaction that the Chinese (both the citizens and their government) have when caught (or when catching) that is different.

Take, for example, the recent case of the American FBI agent arrested for selling secrets to the Russians. The end result of this "affair" was that America threw out several Russian diplomats and Russia returned the favor by ejecting an equal number of American diplomats. There was no posturing, no threatening, and no demand for an apology from anyone. And, when I say this was the end of the affair, it was really the end. Both sides put this incident behind them even before the dust had settled. Even looking back at Los Alamos, you will see the big fuss in the US media was over the American government's inept handling of the case, and not over the actual theft of nuclear secrets.

China doesn't seem to be able to handle spying issues with the same reserve, however. Twice in recent memory (once over the Los Alamos incident and now over a wrecked spy plane), they have reacted to being caught spying and to catching us spying in, what to an American, seems a very strange manner.

In defense of the Chinese reaction to these two events, it should be said that spying is a rather dis-honorable activity and to be caught at it is shameful (Not that being caught is the cause for shame, but rather being caught with one's hand in the cookie jar, so to speak, is the cause). As for catching someone spying on you.. well, stealing from someone is just about the best way to show a lack of respect that there is.

Having said that, I think China needs to either swallow its honor or give up trying to be a Superpower. This, after all, is just the tip of the iceberg. America will continue to spy (and get caught spying) as will England, Russia, Japan, India, and any other country that feels it might have something to gain from China. China, too, will continue to spy (and get caught spying) on America, England, Russia, Japan, India, and any other country they feel might have something of benefit to China. These outbursts of slighted honor are silly at best and, at worst, dangerous for everyone involved.

China can, and probably will, force the US to apologize over this incident - The lives/freedom of our men and women are too precious to waste over this - but it will be unfortunate if this occurs. There are enough men and women in Washington with their own sense of honor that will be slighted over being force to offer an apology. No one needs, and no one wants another Cold War..

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Who decided to land the thing in China anyway? (4.00 / 3) (#37)
by jester69 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:14:13 PM EST

Okay,

Maybe military operation planning isn't my thing. But have we become such wussies that the men and women of the armed services would rather land in china than ditch the plane in the ocean?

I say, if they didnt have time to destroy ALL classified information, they should have ditched in the ocean and helecopters would have been right along to rescue them. But, of course, its easier to think you can land in hostile territory and the enemy will be nice and give your toys back and let your people go. (especially when you are an arrogant American thinking everyone everywhere F33r5 your Might.)

I'm not sure but I would guess there is a greater risk of loss of life when landing in the ocean as compared to China. If you dont like the idea of being asked to possibly get killed in the course of doing your job properly, then for gods sake dont join the military and volunteer to fly in a spy-plane near a hostile nation.

Being in the military has some great benefits, but there used to also be some assumption of risk. I am sure whomever decided to land in china rather than ditch is being soundly thrashed right about now. Unless, of course, they actually did destroy all sensitive information. In that case landing in china makes perfect sense. Why ditch in the ocean if what is left of your plane is of no value to the enemy, and there is a better chance of your own survival on dry land.

But, i find it hard to believe they could have sanitized the plane to any effective degree in the time they had at their disposal.

As an aside, with how much stuff is made in China and Taiwan, if you need any new electronics, clothing, Nike shoes, teddy bears, Martha Stewart goods, etc. now might be the time to buy. If this goes to hell in a handbasket, supply could run quite short before we can retool locally or find alternate channels.

The jester, 69


Its a lemming thing, Jeep owners would understand.
True (none / 0) (#39)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:19:01 PM EST

That is a really good point but when your life is at stake (and 20 some other lives) I would imagine you do whatever you you think has the best chance of you surviving. Remember, the Chinese pilot bailed out into the ocean and hasn't been found yet, I think that is probably what the pilot was afraid of when he decided to land on whatever flat strip of land he could get to.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Wussies?? (none / 0) (#49)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:58:34 PM EST

According to reports that I've heard and read, the damage to the airplane was such that the pilot could not come in "low and slow" to land in the ocean.

If he had attempted an ocean landing, the plane would have disintegrated on impact, along with the crew.

Have you served in uniform? If not, I would hesitate before calling these folks "wussies."

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

Well, thats why I didnt join the armed forces (none / 0) (#55)
by jester69 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 02:19:30 PM EST

You write,

Have you served in uniform? If not, I would hesitate before calling these folks "wussies."

I thought about joining the armed forces a couple of times but decided I wouldnt be good at it. Why?

Because this particular citizen is unwilling to die to protect the interests of the United States Government, as they are often different from my own. The job of soldier requires this level of commitment. You can think it doesn't, but in situations like this I would likely have done the same thing whomever made this decision did. Which is: focusing on saving the crew rather than protecting the mission objective. That is what would have made me a bad soldier. My unwillingness to subjugate my well being to the whims of the Military Industrial Complex <tm>.

It is my opinion, and possibly a misguided one, that anyone who joins the military and doesnt realize that they may be called upon to die for their country, probably didnt think the matter through. Quite often military operations the health of the men is secondary to the objective. Why would this particular mission be any different?

Then again, we may have set them up the decoy. Perhaps all technology left on the spyplane is misleading and disinformative, and landing in china was exactly the thing to do... But, if it is a technological marvel that we would rather they didnt have, I am pretty sure whatever CO told them to land in China rather than ditch is getting put through the wringer. There isn't a piece of brass in the military that wouldn't have sacrificed 24 men to keep technology like that out of Chineese hands.

take care,

The Jester, 69


Its a lemming thing, Jeep owners would understand.
[ Parent ]
Good for you (none / 0) (#57)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 03:59:59 PM EST

Because this particular citizen is unwilling to die to protect the interests of the United States Government
That is of course, your right and privilege -- one of the benefits of living in the United States.

I know a lot of veterans my age, older, and younger. To a one, they all realize(d) going in that their job could entail taking a bullet for their country. Without question, without hesitation, they signed on. Had the order come down to give their lives, without question, without hesitation, they would have done that, too.

Presumably, they destroyed a great deal of the equipment aboard the plane, probably starting with the most sensitive first, then getting done what they could.

I suspect that you are correct in saying that the person who decided to land in China is going through the wringer. In all likelihood, he is in China going through the wringer at the hands of the Chinese. However, the mission parameters may have been such that it was not of paramount importance to destroy the equipment aboard.

There isn't a piece of brass in the military that wouldn't have sacrificed 24 men to keep technology like that out of Chineese hands.
I would be surprised to find that statement to be true. Attitudes like that in the brass do not inspire confidence and loyalty in the line-animals. In the abstract (which includes the REMF's in Washington), maybe.
Why would this particular mission be any different?
Because we are not at war.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]
A fine point, but worth making. (none / 0) (#67)
by jester69 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 06:33:20 PM EST

Because this particular citizen is unwilling to die to protect the interests of the United States Government
That is of course, your right and privilege -- one of the benefits of living in the United States.
A fine point, but one worth making. I do consider myself somewhat of a partiot, and there may well be causes i was willing to die for, possibly including nationalistic ones. I am just enough of an individualist that i reserve the right to make those decisions for myself, rather than abdicating that responsibility to a government organization. I guess you could say i am willing to defend freedom, but not the federal government.

There isn't a piece of brass in the military that wouldn't have sacrificed 24 men to keep technology like that out of Chineese hands.

I would be surprised to find that statement to be true. Attitudes like that in the brass do not inspire confidence and loyalty in the line-animals. In the abstract (which includes the REMF's in Washington), maybe.
You are more of an optimist than I, and I salute you. From what I have read at the higher levels in the military their decisions can seem to ignore human costs. I point to history to bear this out. How many useless hills have been taken, lost and retaken at great cost to life. These higher ups set acceptable casualty limits based on the priority of the mission. I am quite sure many operations with less importance have had an acceptable casualty limit with a number much higher than 24 souls.

The Jester, 69

Its a lemming thing, Jeep owners would understand.
[ Parent ]
One last item (none / 0) (#73)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 09:49:35 PM EST

From what I have read at the higher levels in the military their decisions can seem to ignore human costs
That's why I included the "REMF's" as an abstraction. REMF is a Rear Echelon M***** F*****, and often make the decisions to take worthless hills because it looks good on paper. Many leaders, especially the ones on the ground, will go to great lengths to avoid any unnecessary casualties.

If you're interested, Tom Clancy did a book on command called Into the Storm, which I thought was some pretty good insight into the mind of a commander.

Yeah, I'm a little optimistic -- it keeps my blood pressure low. :)

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

Oh, GEEZ. (none / 0) (#72)
by ghjm on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 09:35:18 PM EST

> That is of course, your right and privilege --
> one of the benefits of living in the United
> States.

I feel compelled to point out that citizens of the United States enjoy substantially less protection from death at the hands of their government than do the citizens of other developed nations. Within recent memory the United States has drafted citizens to serve in a pointless and lethal war; and has instituted judicial provisions to permit the direct killing of its citizenry by its government, something no other developed nation permits.

So your statement is factually wrong. In practice no-one has been drafted since 1973, but in principle the draft could be re-instituted tomorrow (in the face of, for example, a land war with China). Americans enjoy no right or privilege to refuse military service, or to refuse to die for their country or their government.

Neither do the Chinese, unless they happen to be in the HKSAR...which is a nice place to live, actually.

-Graham

[ Parent ]
Not quite. (none / 0) (#75)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:11:54 PM EST

Americans enjoy no right or privilege to refuse military service, or to refuse to die for their country or their government.
Negative. There is a provision for conscientious objector status. It can be done, and has been done. Muhammad Ali is one of the more well-known of the conscientious objectors.

As to the death penalty (which is, I assume your allusion to "direct killing...by its government"), we probably best not go there, else the flames will surely fly.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

The draft (none / 0) (#84)
by cameldrv on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 12:34:57 AM EST

The draft will never be re-instituted except perhaps for people with certain specialties, because war has gotten too complicated to have people with minimal training fighting. The difference between a trained soldier with high-tech equipment and a conscript is huge and getting bigger. Furthermore, the American public is not going to allow mass loss of life in a foreign war as was seen in Vietnam.

As to a land-war with China, it will never happen in mainland Asia for sure, as the Chinese army is too big to fight from across an ocean. The only place this could conceivably happen is in Taiwan, and there, if the U.S. were to intervene, it would be with the Navy and Air Force, and the Chinese would be unable to cross the Straits of Taiwan.

There are very few countries which have a military that remotely compares to the U.S., and the U.S. won't fight them in a land battle, because the American public won't stand for it.

[ Parent ]

vet says: wussies (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by cory on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:43:47 PM EST

I did serve, four years in the US Navy. I come from a military family (almost every man in my family going back three generations served in the US Navy, going back earlier quite a few served in the Royal Navy). The pilot and crew of that E3 screwed up when they didn't scuttle their vessel and bail out. The classified information onboard that thing is worth more than all their lives combined. When I was granted my classified clearance it was with the understanding that, if the ship starting sinking, I would make sure all of the crypto gear I worked with was destroyed *before* abandoning ship, even at the risk of my own life.

So, yes, the pilot and crew are wussies and should be court martialed when/if we get them back. That won't happen because the administration needs them to be "heroes", though.

Cory


[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#74)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 10:03:08 PM EST

Never having served myself, I try to reserve judgment. I wasn't there, I don't know anything about what should have happened. But, in any debate, I'll always give the folks who wear the uniform the benefit of the doubt until I know differently.

Now I know differently!

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

They were not wussies (none / 0) (#83)
by cameldrv on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 12:24:55 AM EST

First off, it was an EP-3, not an E-3. Second, the plane was having major problems which would have prevented a successful water landing. The flaps were inoperative, which would mean that combined with the damage to the nose, the stall speed would be very high, I suspect over 130 knots. Also, the airspeed indicator was inoperative, which makes it even more difficult to do a water ditching, as you're trying to fly as slowly as possible without stalling. This is very difficult with a very high stall speed and no ASI. The ASI is the most important instrument in the cockpit bar none. I suspect that if a water ditching were attempted, all of the crew would have been lost.

Finally, the destruction procedure for classified materials was completed, so whatever the Chinese get won't be worth much. The pilot did an outstanding job getting that plane on the ground without loss of life and deserves a medal.

[ Parent ]

that's what parachutes are for (5.00 / 1) (#85)
by cory on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 12:38:48 AM EST

(My bad on the E3 statement, typo.)

Every military plane is equiped with parachutes for the crew. Every military plane crewmember has to know how to use a parachute. Every military plane operating over water is equiped with life rafts. The crew should've bailed out of the plane and deployed the rafts, letting the plane crash into the water. And like I said: the technology on the plane is far, far, more important than the crew combined. It's better to lose the crew and the plane than for an enemy like China to grab the technology. Now not just 24 lives are at risk, but 300 million. Any sailor worth his salt knows that.

And why are you so sure that the scuttle procedures were complete? The Pentagon and White House don't seem so sure, and can't be sure until they get the crew back.

Cory

[ Parent ]
There is more recent info (none / 0) (#86)
by cameldrv on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 01:11:27 AM EST

There was a story on CNN earlier today which indicated that the crew had said the the destruction procedure for the classified materials had been completed. I saw another report that said at least some of the electronics had thermite or something on them which could be activated. If this were the case, I don't think the Chinese are going to get too much information, and given that, I don't think it's reasonable to ask the crew to seriously endanger their lives.

[ Parent ]
Risks/Benefits of landing in China (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by sigwinch on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 07:08:34 PM EST

I say, if they didnt have time to destroy ALL classified information, they should have ditched in the ocean
The reports I'm hearing on (Apr. 4) say that flaps and air speed indicator were damaged, which would have made water ditching problematic.
But, i find it hard to believe they could have sanitized the plane to any effective degree in the time they had at their disposal.
Disclosure: I'm not a SIGINT expert. Much surveillance work consists of carrying an antenna to a likely location, amplifying the signal you receive, and storing it on high-bandwidth recorders (possibly encrypted). Most of the job of a surveillance plane is to serve as a giant, mobile analog-to-digital converter. The technicians and operators are there to make the equipment work. They may do some immediate analysis, particularly to pick out and track intriguiging signals, but the real magic happens back home, where the signal analysis boys with their bunkers full of supercomputers analyze the data.

For radar data, the recorded signals tell you where, when, how many, and what type of radars are in use. This tells you much about the technological level and deployment of the other nation's military resources. In fact, since most radar transmitters have a unique signal fingerprint, you can even track individual pieces of equipment as they move around. This is fantastically valuable information. Communications signals carry similar information, and if you're lucky you can even decode the message. But little of this comes out at the time of recording: it's the post-processing and databasing by intelligence agencies that adds much of the value.

So as far as sanitizing it goes: destroy the recording media (wouldn't be surprised if they carried a high-speed eraser for just this purpose), destroy encryption keys (hopefully by powdering the chips they are stored in), and destroy a couple of square inches of the most classified circuit boards. The rest of the stuff is pretty generic, if high-end and specialized, electronics equipment.

But, of course, its easier to think you can land in hostile territory and the enemy will be nice and give your toys back and let your people go.
A SIGINT technician, not to mention a pilot, has to be recruited and trained, a very expensive proposition. The cost of losing one is probably on the order of (wild guess) $2M apiece. Therefore, the crew of 24 has a replacement value of $48M. If the Chinese could have been kept from tampering with it, probably another $2-$10M of electronics equipment could have been saved too. Then there's the salvage value of the airplane, probably >$10M.

This is balanced against the residual intelligence that can be extracted from the personnel as prisoners. With the mission plan and objectives, critical recorded information, and cryptographic keys destroyed, the only information left is the strategic secrets in the electronics equipment (probably minimal) and the information that can be tortured out of the crew (low value). In my opinion, the probability of torture is exceedingly low, as the United States *would* learn about it and probably go to war, which is obviously bad even with the warped world view of the Chinese gov't. Plus the fact is that most of the "classified" personnel knowledge is inane stuff like "A chirped Ukranian 2.7 GHz radar is best detected by quadrature mode L at 14 MHz digitizing rate." Altogether it's valuable, but difficult to extract without careful prolonged interrogation.

Considering cost vs. benefits, I think landing with crew intact and alive has significant benefits.

(especially when you are an arrogant American thinking everyone everywhere F33r5 your Might.)
Somehow, I think that professional intelligence operators and airmen have few illusions about how well 24 people would do starting a land war against China.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

plains (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 12:24:32 PM EST

U.S. reporter was walking the streets of Beijing asking people there for their opinions. One person had stated that if a Chinese plane had been forced to land in New Jersey, the U.S. would be acting the say way. Could this be true? I would have to say no. Why? Media.

Um, we did do that to the russians, well we didn't give them back the plain untill completly dismantling it, and rebuilding it...
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Let's not lose sight (2.66 / 3) (#53)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 01:52:26 PM EST

Of some facts:

  1. The incident occurred in international airspace.
  2. A fighter is far more an instrument of agression than an ELINT gathering platform. It's somewhat akin to me coming after you with a shotgun, just because you are in the city park with a radio scanner.
  3. No one seems to be asking what a Chinese fighter was doing in international airspace.
I think that the administration is doing the right thing. Whenever military equipment falls into the other guys hands, there is usually all manner of diplomatic hand-wringing and demands for apologies an admissions of fault.

The Chinese have had eight years of the Clintonistas spoon-feeding them. They realize that Bush isn't going to be so kind. This is the same tact that Reagan took with the Sovs in the eighties, and look how that turned out. The threat of this escalating is minimal at best.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

Some questions (none / 0) (#62)
by camadas on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:42:14 PM EST

1 - Why wasn't the spy plane escorted by fighters?
2 - Is the spy plane really the very best on technology or is this a handover of old stuff for disinformation purposes.

And no one questions the position of the chinese fighters because it does seem more natural, you know, just near home. These people will still feel that the wrong doer was the one who was spying, it doesn't really matter if it was on national space or not. If don't understand this let me put it another way, if one atomic sub wrecks just near my territorial waters the damage will be the same and people will still say "what the hell was it doing there anyway"?

[ Parent ]
Possible Answers (none / 0) (#65)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 06:14:29 PM EST

Why wasn't the spy plane escorted by fighters?
It could have very well been. I haven't heard or read anything to suggest one way or another. Even if it were under fighter escort, the pilots are most likely under ROE that prohibit any type of shooting, unless in the most dire of self-defense situations. For all I know, there was a fighter escort, and they were begging for permission to open fire.
Is the spy plane really the very best on technology or is this a handover of old stuff for disinformation purposes[?]
If that is the case why not claim some sort of navigation error, and get forced down that way? "Ooops, look at us, just accidentally wandered over the mainland. So sorry." Why jeopardize a US crew, and Chinese pilots when you can just kinda maybe "run out of gas" over Beijing?

And, it does make sense for US aircraft to be in the area, because of Taiwan. We did get caught with our hand in the cookie jar, but everything surrounding this is just posturing and (I hate to use the term) saber rattling.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

ok, maybe i'm parananoid, but (none / 0) (#69)
by camadas on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 07:39:24 PM EST

Bare with me, if this is a planned move (insert your favourite conspiration) if the plane was just over Penquin and run out of gas, it would be far more serious (inside national space), ok?.
As for jeopardizing a crew, first it don't think they're in great risk at this moment, and second that never stopped anyone in intelligency agencies, military or civilian.
I didn't know there was a fighter there, but if it were why hasn't any one produced any evidence from what happened (video/audio records)

I'm not picking on you, but something is very wrong in this picture. It is just looks too much a planned crisis too me. Why ? I'm not americanm theories of dark forces are your forté, not mine.

Sorry but my engrish is limited and can't catch the meaning of your last phrase.


[ Parent ]
Some Answers =) (none / 0) (#76)
by scheme on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:17:47 PM EST

1.The incident occurred in international airspace.
2.A fighter is far more an instrument of agression than an ELINT gathering platform. It's somewhat akin to me coming after you with a shotgun, just because you are in the city park with a radio scanner.
3.No one seems to be asking what a Chinese fighter was doing in international airspace.

Although international treaties only recognize 12 nautical miles(nmi) as being the point where international airspace begins most countries claim more. FYI, China claims 200 nmi, Canada claims 300nmi, I'm not sure what the US claim is but it probably is at least 100, and is probably about 200nmi.

The Chinese reaction is probably closer to coming after me with a shotgun when I park a van outside your home and try to eavesdrop on your cordless/cellphone conversations, point shotgun/laser mics at your windows to listen in on you, and try to use your computer/tv emission to figure out what your watching or working on.

Why complain about the chinese fighter's right? If the US can fly a ELINT plane there then the Chinese have just as much or more rights to fly a fighter there. In any case, the US would have done the same if China, Russia, or some other nation flew an ELINT plane 70 nmi off the east coast or west coast.


"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein


[ Parent ]
Good points (none / 0) (#80)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 11:44:58 PM EST

First: You bring up a good point about the vagaries of international territory. Hell, we could decide that tomorrow, we will claim 500nmi is our airspace, and who's going to enforce it?

Second: MUCH better analogy than mine. The point I was trying to make is that a fighter plane is built for one reason: shooting down other planes, which is more often an offensive measure than defensive.

Third: Not a complaint, an observation. Yes, the US would have done the same thing, but I wonder if we had been so careless, and actually rammed the plane -- if that is indeed what happened. I doubt that we'll ever know what exactly went on, but it's sure fun to speculate!

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]

Question..Spy Planes??? (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by CrazyJub on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 03:54:41 PM EST

Has anyone else asked the question; Why are countries sill using spy planes when satellites can do the same job?

And also;

Why hasn't the media started it's "Oh the poor soldiers, here are some pictures of thier families."?

And since when does a spy plane have propellers? Hell, the U2 was 100X more sophisticated, and that was the 60's!

Just strikes me as odd, that's all.
This whole thing smells funny, something else is going on, it doesn't make sense.

Answers. (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by slick willie on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:04:42 PM EST

Why are countries sill using spy planes when satellites can do the same job?
Radio signals tend to deteriorate over distance. The plane in question is a ELINT gathering platform.
Why hasn't the media started it's "Oh the poor soldiers, here are some pictures of thier families."?
They have. You know, it doesn't hurt to remind folks that the people we pay to do this dirty work are actual human beings, with parents, wives, children, brothers, sisters, etc. If we treat them as "assets" to be disposed of when they are an inconvenience, what does that make us?
And since when does a spy plane have propellers? Hell, the U2 was 100X more sophisticated, and that was the 60's!
Again, the plane in question is an ELINT platform. Gathering electronic signals is quite a different business from taking pictures.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

[ Parent ]
Spy planes (none / 0) (#60)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 05:15:28 PM EST

satellites probably cannot pick up radio traffic and whatnot as well as a plane. And why not use a propeller plane? If it suits the job, go for it. You don't use a K-6 III for a linux router, that's why god made 486es :)

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Aerial reconsaince (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by strlen on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 07:49:32 PM EST

Ep-3 aries is _MUCH_ more different from a U2 or a sattelite. Satelites and U2's gather photographic and IR evidence. Ep-3 flies in international waters and it gathers electronic evidence, information which can only be gotten from a terrestial source, in proximity of the electronic equipment. Ep-3 does not use a conventional propeller, it uses a turbo-prop where a turbine engine rotates the propeller blades. Since it's illegal to shoot at an Ep-3 while it's in international waters, or inside the borders of a friendly country, there's no purpose in making fast -- and turbo props are much more fuel efficient (you need to stay in flight for a long time) and generate enough lift to keep the current equipment up.

Basically, Ep-3 is an awacs without the upper dome hosted on a C-130 like platform, that it's. And I believe it came from the same time as the U-2, at least the C-130 did and the P-2, so it's not from a different zone. And U-2's are still flying and are not a thing of the sixty's. For instance in Kosovo they were used to create propaganda evidence, and have done valuable work in Iraq. Sattelites provide you with a safer, but less detailed look into the enemy territory, and can't pick up electronic information unlike some modifications of U-2.. So sattelites, U-2's, P-3's etc.. are not really competitors, they are actually used together.

Also media is using the word spy plane wrong. U-2 is a spy plane, so is Sr-71. It is designed to fly high and fast, above the AAA or the SAMS and gather intelligence at the battle field or deep in the enemy territory. The Ep-3 flies slow, and low, muich like a C-130 and it gathers electronic transmissions from the enemy. If a u-2 is shot down, the prisoner is a POW simple and plain. If a P-3 is shot down, the citizen is a still a citizen of another country and must be returned, unless the P-3 is within the enemy territory without any authorization (and P-3 was in international watters during the incident with the chinese figheter0. And intercepting an Ep-3 is a perfectly legal maneuver, United States did it with Soviet BEAR airplanes (similar to EP-3, though faster and originally designed as Nuke bombers), and Soviet union did it to American P-3's and EC-130's, RC-135.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
US has the upper hand. (5.00 / 2) (#71)
by hengist on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 09:08:46 PM EST

In this situation, the US has the upper hand over the PRC for one simple reason: money.
China exports a hell of a lot of stuff to the US. All it takes is a US embargo on Chinese goods and their economy takes a hit. Also, China is rather keen on joining the WTO, and on hosting the 2008 Olympics. The US could make both of these apsirations impossible.
Finally, if a Chinese fighter couldn't get out of the way of a 4 engined turboprop, their pilots must really suck.

There can be no Pax Americana
Re: US has the upper hand (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by skwang on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 01:09:23 PM EST

There is another card the US has in its hand: weapons systems to Taiwan. PRC's "One-China" policy hinges on the assumption that Taiwan is a renegade province. If Taiwan decided to declare independence (more on this later), then the PRC has promised to invade. Obviously the PRC does not want the US to sell Aeigis Missile Systems and Patriot Missile Systems to Taiwan.

China seems to have two objectives:

  • Demanding an apology

    From my point of view I think that this is a cultural issue. Since the Chinese pilot died, the PRC government wants the US to lose face. I think the Chinese military knows that its jet fighter probably "caused" the collision, but since its the country that suffered a casualty, it wants the US to suffer something too, and face to their/my culture is sometimes of the utmost importance.

  • Convservative Stance

    I think that China is wants these high-level diplomatic talks because they want to start setting some agendas, such as weapons sales to Taiwan. In effect, they are trying to leverage as much out of this as they can, especially since the leadership is attempting to applease hard-liner conservatives within the Communist Party (CCP).

Finally, the new Taiwanese president (elected last year) ran on an independence platform. Only to retract his rhetoric when actually elected thanks to overt pressure from an angry PRC government.

[ Parent ]

US - China Relations (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by sprout on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 01:44:53 PM EST

This is simply one incident in a line of difficult and convoluted relations between China and the US. Everything that goes on between these two countries is sort of a reflection of all previous relations and policies, starting with the Chinese Revolution which occurred in 1949 and US refused to acknowledge that they were a sovereign nation, in fact they decided to recognize the former government which retreated to Taiwan as the government of mainland China. It wasn't until Nixon opened relations with China (in the 70's) that the current US "One China" policy started. This policy says that the government in Beijing is the rightful government of China, BUT the US doesn't think that the reunification of the PRC (mainland China) and the ROC (Taiwan), should be done with any force. So the US sells weapons to Taiwan to prevent China from using force to reunify. The deal worked out is that the US will only sell enough to prevent China from being able to use force against Taiwan.

Ok, that's the background. Now about the current leaders: In China, Jiang is viewed in China as being too soft on the US, particularly after the bombing of the Chinese embassy during the Yugoslavia mess. Of course Bush has stated that he is going to present a harder line to China than Clinton did, and if he fails to he will suffer criticism from his party and then it is more likely that he won't get as much help in a nearly divided congress where he needs every party vote he has to get legislation passed.

Now about whats happening now, I think that it is the fault of the fighter plane that the accident happened, it seems more logical that the smaller figher plane (whose pilot was seen as a cowboy, so it says in a recent article in the New York Times). Also I think it is foolish for the US to expect the plane to be untouched and sent back soon. What is also foolish is that Bush is being too "hard line" to give Jiang any negotiating room, likewise Jiang is seen as being too "hard line" to give Bush some wiggle room. I think that the US should have expressed regrets about the fighter and it's pilot sooner, but also the crew of the plane should have been sent back to the US as soon as they could have been.

How this is going to be resolved is anybody's guess, hopefully it will be worked out. Unfortunately if the crew remains in China while Jiang is in South America, I think that party pressure will force Bush to do something. Especially if the US media keeps pushing public opinion against China (as it will). This is basically a big game of chicken, although the first person to back down doesn't lose if they do it diplomatically enough. If it isn't done diplomaticly then... well that's anybody's guess

Sino-American Relations on the Brink of Collapse? | 100 comments (94 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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