Pentagon settles on payment to China over Navy spy plane incident
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon has sent China an ”appropriate amount of money” for support provided after a Navy U.S. reconnaissance plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet, a spokesman said Thursday.
Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, speaking at a Pentagon briefing, declined to comment on a CNN report that the payment is $34,000 and that a $1 million demand by the Chinese had been rejected.
The Navy EP-3E, loaded with sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment, made an emergency landing April 1 on Hainan Island after colliding with a Chinese fighter jet sent to intercept it over the South China Sea.
The collision and China’s 11-day detention of its U.S. crew caused the worst tensions between Beijing and Washington since the bombing of China’s embassy in Yugoslavia by U.S. planes in 1999.
In July, the House of Representatives voted 424-6 against reimbursing China for the time the crew spent in China, or for the cost of returning the aircraft. Language by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, blocking such payments was attached to a measure financing the department of State and other agencies next year, which the Senate has yet to consider.
Quigley described the payment as ”a notification en route to Beijing. … We hope to have that delivered to the Chinese via diplomatic channels, again through our embassy in Beijing, in the next few days.”
Asked whether any ”outrage” was expressed when Pentagon officials discussed the payment, Quigley said, ”I don’t remember witnessing any outrage as we were thinking about this, no.”
Quigley said Pentagon officials ”arrived at what we think is a fair figure for services rendered and assistance in taking care of the air crew” as well as ”some of the materials and contracts and whatnot” for the removal of the damaged aircraft.
In early July, the aircraft’s salvageable pieces were flown back to the United States in hopes of rebuilding it.
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