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Hyperreality: The U.S-China Standoff

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -why-there-will-never-be-a-virtual-state- dept.

United States 1040

For more than a week now, two of the world's superpowers have been nose-to-nose, endangering not only global security but their own valuable and increasingly important economic relationship, because one culture can't apologize for an obvious accident and the other culture insists that only an apology can end the crisis. Anyone who still harbors Utopian fantasies about the Virtual State -- you know, the Net and Web, global community, the digital economy and interactivity all combining to shatter existing boundaries, etc. -- should find the current U.S.-China confrontation finishing them off. The state is hyperreal -- it operates like software. It seems stable enough while the power is on and it hasn't run into any major bugs, but interrupt the power supply or corrupt it, and the state falls apart. (Read more.)

"U.S. and China Look for a Way to Say 'Sorry'," was the striking headline on The New York Times front page Monday. Some of the world's most senior diplomats have been fussing for days over how to phrase sentences in English and Chinese that will stroke both nation's egos, even though no sane person could believe anybody meant this incident to happen. The sticking point is China's public demand for an apology -- "dao qian," a legalistic and formal verbal idea that dates back to its imperial past.

Second to none when it comes to macho military posturing, the U.S. can't say it's sorry for the accident and bring everybody home. Various grim-faced U.S. officials, from the President and Vice-President to the Secretary of State, have been rushing around in their big black limos, and issued guarded expressions of concern and sadness, but nobody can quite bring himself to say the magic words.

Maybe these people could get on IRC and flame each other, then apologize and sort the whole thing out. Think of the money that would be saved.

If anything highlights some of the bankrupt, outmoded practices of the nation-state, and also the reason we will never be so lucky as to see it wither away, it's this incident -- taken quite seriously by the popular media, whose talk shows are full of soundbite-spouting eggheads, military experts and grave government spin doctors.

This all makes Jerry Everard, author of Virtual States: The Internet and the Boundaries of the Nation-State look prescient. In his book, published last year by Routledge Press, Everard challenged the idea, long advocated by digital utopians, that the Net would ultimately break down the national barriers and boundaries and render them both useless and obsolete. If states are hyperreal, then so are agreements and understandings between nationalist governments.

That won't happen, wrote Everard, a professor at the Australian National University, because the new economy is promoting inequities and resentment in many cultures, and because people don't realize that nation-states have two economies: the goods and services economy, and the identity economy.

"While the state's role in the first may be diminishing, its role in the latter is stronger than ever. In today's climate of change and uncertainty, people are turning to nationalism and engaging in regional conflicts over identity," he noted. Identify resulted from the boundary-making process; it was a way of identifying the national Self from the Other, establishing an us-versus them.

The spy plane flap underscores Everard's idea. China and the United States do billions of dollars in trade together, thanks in part to computer networks, and China has spent billions to develop a new communications infrastructure. The country is wiring up rapidly, eager to jump into the new networked global economy, which the U.S. already dominates. Neither country has reason to jeopardize this new relationship, which potentially democratizes China, creates new jobs, helps stabilize that region, and distributes wealth to some impoverished corners of the world.

Except that cultural identity is stronger than the virtual kind, and the nation-state can't seem to overcome some of its most primitive conventions.

Both countries seem willing to damage their relationship over arcane language and diplomatic posturing, which shows why the idea of the virtual state is so unlikely, at least for the foreseeable future. When push comes to shove, identity seems to overcome reason and self-interest. This style of identity politics crops up all over the world -- on the border between India and Pakistan, in Eastern Europe, all over the African continent, in regional and local conflicts in South America. Maybe we're lucky -- a century ago we'd probably already be at war. But this conflict is likely to be resolved eventually, maybe even by the time this is read.

Everard thinks that certain facets of governance -- the economy, research, media -- could in fact become globalized. But he doesn't see the nation-state disappearing. Seventeenth-century Europe was also turbulent, he points out, with countries popping up, disappearing and reforming as political and economic allegiances evolved, as new technologies changed the nature of war, economics and communications. And despite the Euro, it's still home to nations with fierce identities.

The U.S., birthplace of much of the digital revolution and of the idea of the virtual state, doesn't appear either fragile or hyperreal, but Americans are historically narcissistic and ignorant of other countries, blithely imposing their own traditions, values and practices on other parts of the world.

It's almost as if the more threatened these traditional boundaries are by new business models and technologies that connect people, the more these cultures need to assert their own identity, whatever the cost. The Balkans are a grisly testament to the enduring power of nationalism.

For all the new links between the U.S. and China, and for all the hype about new communications technologies bringing the world closer, neither culture seems to get the other. China doesn't fathom that a conservative U.S. president would be eaten alive by Congress and the American public if he apologized for a military confrontation that doesn't appear to have been our fault. The United States seems not to comprehend a tradition that places an enormous premium on honor, face, and responsibility.

Talk about hyperreal.

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Re:Why Apologize? (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 13 years ago | (#301742)

Especially when it was on autopilot.

- A.P.

Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

WHAT! (1)

TommyP (5282) | more than 13 years ago | (#301758)

I was always told to apologize for something I've done. The US hasn't even recieved a chance to debreaf the pilots. How could we apologize for the crach if we don't know if its our fault.
Besides whats more likely, a figher hitting a trasport (which is pretty much what the the "spy plane" is. its a converted C-130) or a transport hitting a fighter?

should we apologize for flying our aircraft in international are space?

maybe they should apologize to crashing into us, and then stripping our aircraft, and stealing our technology.

I think people are forgetting we are dealing with a country that rattles sabres by lunching missles over Japan and Tiwan for so cald testing.

sooo (1)

vluther (5638) | more than 13 years ago | (#301762)

you would apologize to make someone happy ? even when you know this person you're trying to make happy is wrong ? So what if he's older ? If someone is wrong, they're wrong.

What about the fact that the crew members are being held there ?

If it was truly a matter of honor and old chinese traditions, this matter would be over. This is a matter of China testing the US.

Any old chinese wise man, would have looked at the situation practically, said sorry and let the americans go, hell they would probably have treated people's wounds etc. This is the chinese military who uses Jung as a puppet, testing the US. So please don't bring honor into this..

this is a result of greed, power hunger, ego and to see who has the bigger balls. Please don't confuse testicular fortitude with honor and courage.. usually it belongs to stupidity.

Too early, maybe? (1)

MikeCamel (6264) | more than 13 years ago | (#301766)

I find it hard not to agree with the tenor of the article, but would offer one caveat: wait. Maybe we _are_ developing a virtual community, slowly, but I wonder how true that is of China? More importantly, how much does the virtual community span over into China? How many Chinese readers are there of slashdot, for instance?

I'm British, and feel part of a number of virtual communities. If (heaven forbid), something similar happened between the UK and the US, then I think we might find the virtual community putting pressure on our leaders to do something sensible about the mess. You can't, however, expect a strong virtual community across national borders yet, particularly across the East/West divide, where modes of communication are different, and levels access to developing communities varies significantly.

a cool idea. (1)

PsYcOBoRg (6613) | more than 13 years ago | (#301768)

since we must apologise, lets just go to the chinese Goverment web site and /. it... then ask them to apoligise to slashdot.org for putting it there.

shoot, if the site was not there, we would not have slashdotted it.. lol

international water, a gloated pilot, and a damaged us plane.

hmmm.. why should we apologise again>?

that is the biggest Crock of Whohockie (1)

PsYcOBoRg (6613) | more than 13 years ago | (#301770)

i have ever heard!!! JEZUS!! our personell is being held hostage for an accident the china military caused. and they want us to apologise to them? what? they think we are idiots?

Bush should moon the bastards.

their so called propaganda machine seems to be running wild here in the us as well.

The Russians do this all the time (1)

donturn (7351) | more than 13 years ago | (#301771)

What would the USA do if the chinese kept flying planes up the cost of California, just outside the territorial boundaries? What would they do if one of these planes came down at an American air-base?

The Russians do this a lot, mostly in Alaska. try reading the bottom of this piece from Slate [msn.com] about the Russkis buzzing teh Kitty Hawk.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#301780)

why should the US be the only country to claim the first 200 miles?

Excuse? Provide support for this claim, please. International law is international law, so 12 miles it is, thank you.

Apologize for what? (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 13 years ago | (#301784)

There's no evidence at all that it was the Americans' fault as opposed to the Chinese pilot. Without knowing any of the facts (which is pretty much the case now), why would anybody think that the U.S. pilots would decide to use a multimillion dollar, extremely technically sensitive, lumbering four-prop plane as a battering ram against a jet? Maybe evidence will come out showing which side was at fault, and it's okay for an apology then, but it's stupid for there to be one now. After the way China has handled the 24 men, I'd say they owe an apology for that if they want to join the rest of the top nations and host an Olympics.

One other thing... Those digital utopians that Jerry Everard slams in his book sound an awful lot like you, Mr. Katz.


Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

lythander (21981) | more than 13 years ago | (#301801)

There are even stories in some major media that the plane was actually fired on by the second Chinese fighter and FORCED to land on the chinese island of Hinan(?).

Hard to _mean_ sorry (1)

GlobalEcho (26240) | more than 13 years ago | (#301832)

Katz makes this sound way too simple. Sure, it would be easy to say "sorry", even if the U.S. feels it's not at fault. It's not a problem of childish intractability that prevents the U.S. from doing so, but rather that there are times when apologies really must mean something. Like when you accidentally bomb an embassy, say.
If the U.S. were to apologize here, when it's fairly clear their plane was not the proximate cause of the crash, then what diplomatic avenues would be available to them when they really did screw up? All those protocols exist for a reason, and they have been generally observed over the centuries because they provide a clear (to diplomats) form of communication between governments. Why do you think both the U.S. and Russia expelled dozens of diplomats this year after the FBI spy was found? It's a code, and I would hope Slashdotters can appreciate that.
Incidentally, there is a good article at the NY times about this affair, making the point that the Chinese government lacks manoeuvering room as well, due to rising nationalism and a politically influential military. China is not a monolith, and there are factions pulling in isolationist and open directions. Sending the plane and troops back to the U.S. would do a lot for the Chinese economy, as well as helping to keep the U.S. from selling fancy Aegis destroyers to Taiwan, but such a generous move would have China's hawks demanding the leadersips' heads on a platter.
This one will be interesting to watch.

... historically narcissistic ... blithely imposin (1)

goff (29479) | more than 13 years ago | (#301833)

but Americans are historically narcissistic and ignorant of other countries, blithely imposing their own traditions, values and practices on other parts of the world

I like that one. Seems that while it is a cultural habit of the US, at least some of you seem to notice ...


US is not just posturing (1)

mperrin (41687) | more than 13 years ago | (#301860)

The reason the US is not apologizing has nothing to do with some militaristic notion of masculine inability to apologize. The US military can and has in the past apologized for things for which it was at fault. The problem here is that we're not the ones at fault, at least not completely.

I think if China wanted to have an independent agency (Switzerland?) investigate the crash and determine whose fault it was, the US would agree to that. If that commission determined it was our fault, I bet we would apologize. But that's not what the Chinese are asking for. They're asking for us to claim total responsibility for what happened, without any investigation as to whether that's the truth. Bush and co. won't do that, and I think that's absolutely the right way to go.

Why? Because it sets one hell of a bad precedent, the "Yes, China, we will roll over and do whatever you ask us to in order to maintain peace." precedent. This sort of thing was tried before wrt Germany in the 1930s by a guy called Chamberlain, and look where that got us. As much as we would all like for there to be peace, we can't forget that China is a big, powerful, authoritarian state with major expansionist drives and a history of human rights violations a mile long. I sure as hell don't want us to go to war with them, but I also don't want to see us roll over and give them everything they want. Give in once, and they will learn the US's leadership is weak, and then they'll just start pressing for more, more more. That will only lead to conflict further down the line. Better to take a stand now, show them we mean business, and try to keep things from getting out of hand.

So spying is legitimate business for a plane? (1)

C-C (67249) | more than 13 years ago | (#301906)

"Obvious Accident" yes or no - still, the US plane was a spy plane, which is not something you like to have on you border.

I think below the surface here is what the plane was looking for and maybe got disturbed looking at...

I'm fascinated by the fact that a lot of you privacy and crypto and whatever fans here on Slashdot seem to assume that spying is a completely ordinary and tolerable activity for a plane...

Apologize? (1)

Greylin (72313) | more than 13 years ago | (#301913)

As pointed out...this was an accident. It was something that could have been avoided if the Chinese fighter plane had not come crowding into a propeller-driven aircraft. Regardless of whether the P-3 "shifted direction radically and rapidly" or not, the smaller, faster, and more maneuverable fighter plane was in the wrong -- he was dangerously close to a larger, less maneuverable plane, and because of the Chinese pilot's actions, he was too close, got caught by the propeller, and crashed...now lost and presumed dead.

Granted, with the other international incidents the US has been involved in -- the Japanese trawler, and the bunker -- we are not being viewed in the best light. However, this incident with the Chinese could have been avoided if their pilot had not been such a "hot dog" and flown too close.

Our plane was over international waters, and was doing it's standard Reconnaisance mission -- this wasn't like the old U-2, or the SR-71 missions. The Chinese were in the wrong here, and if anyone should be apologizing, it should be them.

Yes, the loss of any life, regardless of nationality, is bad. For that, I would say the family of that pilot deserve something -- he did lose his life in service to his country. But it is the Chinese that need to take care of their own, and they need to release the American crew and their plane, suck it all up, and move on.

~RM1/ss USN(r)~

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

jidar (83795) | more than 13 years ago | (#301929)

Thank you for spreading wild and stupid speculation without even a source to back it up.

It's a bit more complex.... (1)

bish (84411) | more than 13 years ago | (#301930)

If the US were to apologize they open themselves up to the liabilities. In essence, they would have to pay for the downed jet and any costs associated with the hunt for the downed Chinese airman, plus any reparations for the death of the airman. Now, we don't know what really happened out there other then that two planes hit each other and the smaler one lost. The Chinese need to get off the high horse and realize that this was an accident and start working with the US to find out EXACTLY what happened. Once it is determined then apologies should be handed out if neccessary.

I just don't understand why the smaller plane so darn close as to not avoid a collision with the bigger plane when both were in international airspace. It's like if you hit the person in front of you in your car you will get the ticket %90 of the time.

China is just stalling for time (1)

NetFusion (86828) | more than 13 years ago | (#301934)

They need the extra week or so to reverse engineer the signals intelligence equipment before they have to hand it back. Not everyday you get a great piece of hardware dropped in your lap.

Offer a conditional appology (1)

cs668 (89484) | more than 13 years ago | (#301936)

Why not tell china that if our plane had more of an x( pick a number ) percent course change over a y(pick a number ) time interval we will apologize. But, We need our plane/black box and pilots home to find that out.

Put the ball back in their court and if it was our plane then apologize if not tell them to kiss off.

You Can't mandate forgiveness (1)

BierGuzzl (92635) | more than 13 years ago | (#301942)

Much like the middle east Crisis, you can't get the leaders of a nation to actually make their citizens to forgive and move towards peace. Hell, it's actually a good thing, because if our politicians could do that, they could sway public opinion for other stuff too.... kinda makes you think.

Re:This pussyfooting business is making me sick (1)

debaere (94918) | more than 13 years ago | (#301947)

As a Canadian, I am proud to be different.

Thanks for the compliment :)

DOS is dead, and no one cares...

Re:Overblown by the media (1)

plazma (95294) | more than 13 years ago | (#301951)

first, the US didnt do anything, it was the pilot of the jet who apparently didnt understand how to fly a jet, or understand that those planes cant fly like his jet, second, it is a big deal because 24 people are being held because china is trying to get all the tech they can from that plane.

Re:Maybe (1)

jgerman (106518) | more than 13 years ago | (#301976)

Not that any of these thoughts are strictly impossible, but the burden of proof would be on you... not those that believe that what you say is not so. Making unsubstantiated claims and calling them true is ridiculous. Of course, most of your silly little fantasies revolve around solispism which I believe at some point was shown to be false. Or at least insomuch as anything of that nature can be proven.

Of course this all is probably an attempt at humor.

US is sorry, but not apologetic (1)

Catamaran (106796) | more than 13 years ago | (#301979)

Second to none when it comes to macho military posturing, the U.S. can't say it's sorry for the accident and bring everybody home

The US has already said it is sorry, it just has not apologized which would mean accepting responsibility.

By the way, the biggest threat to world safety right now is Russia, not China.

Re:Missed the point again, Katz... (1)

andy@petdance.com (114827) | more than 13 years ago | (#301995)

This isn't about apologies. It's about political manoevering by China or the US to use as a bargaining chip in any forthcoming negotiations.

Remember also that we are only months into King George II's reign. Whatever happens here will set the tone for the next years (or eight, God help us). He's gotta play tough or lose any position he's got.

Katz has far too simple a view of this. Saying "Sorry" in this case is the same as crying "Uncle". If we do that, we've lost this situation.

I'd suggest that Katz go see "Thirteen Days" and pay attention to the scene where they talk about how their actions are the new vocabulary of diplomacy, and see how it applies here.

Okay... (1)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 13 years ago | (#302017)

My take on this.

Keep in mind I am no political expert and that I am nowhere near involved with politics.

But.. when the biggest nation in the world fucks with us, us being Americans. I take notice and study it some because its something to keep up with.

To me this whole situation seems like a grab for relations and to bolster their image as somewhat victimized by US politics.

There is also no small amount of countries related to this bashing GWB as saying this is his fault and only he could stir up such violence within his first few weeks in office.

I dont know WTF Katz is talking about.. more BS but this is just a little more blatant attempt by certain coutnries to get better foreign policy out of America.

Point and case, there have been for many years documented reports (no links im not whoring just kinda ranting) of the aggresive flight styles of the chinese pilots.

I find it hard to believe that you are going to rub the top of your airplane on the bottom of someone elses without it being a definite !accident. This didnt just happen. To be a pilot even a chinese one I bet it takes a high degree of training and skill to where you can control the craft like an extension of your own body.

This just does not *happen* by accident. Then in the aftermath if you read the fine print the chinese etc are saying that this incident can be forgotten in exchange with some better foreign policy. (No specifics but tahts the gist of it IMO)

What better way than a bit of a catalyst and a missing chinese or two? The catalyst being this accident and they have 24 of our people being held against their will. They are holding them because they want an apology???.... Yeah right.

There is always so much more to something like this than meets the eye that Im not sure we'll ever know what goes on behind the media.

Anyways, I just think that this is posturing and China testing limits and trying to get some better policy etc. And to make GWB look bad to lose as much favor with other countries as they can. The media is doing a damn good job of playing this out and reporting just waht they want you to hear about GWB and how other countries are pissed about him not apologizing.

Another point.. OFF TOPIC: WTF is up with Comedy Central making fun of Bush. I mean they are outright trashing him in a manner I find pretty crude with their new show.

I voted for bush but would not watch a show dedicated to trashing our president, Clinton or Bush.

I just think this goes to show how democratically serving the media is at times.


Responsibility (1)

YIAAL (129110) | more than 13 years ago | (#302025)

Naw. Chinese culture doesn't place a premium on responsibility. It places a premium on rulers NOT being held responsible, because they cannot admit to any flaws. That's the problem. The Net ultimately will help this, if Chinese citizens get sufficient exposure to the rest of the world. But it won't happen overnight.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 13 years ago | (#302035)

and since we already know what Chinese jet technology is, they would probably get it back pretty quick

Exactly, but if it had something of use, the USA would keep it until they had got everything they could. They'd be stupid not to. The Chinese would make a fuss, the US would stall them. Sound familiar?

Re:China said they were in international airspace (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 13 years ago | (#302036)

Never said it wasn't in international air space. However it landed on their turf. As I said, consider what the US would do if an unfriendly spy plane landed at a US air field. They would make every effort to gain any useful knowledge from the event.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 13 years ago | (#302037)

And if a Russian spy plane had landed at a US air-field? One that had some interesting technology (useful to code breakers etc)?

Does not belong (1)

speakerftd (134193) | more than 13 years ago | (#302040)

I do not think this article belongs on Slashdot. Just becuase you use the words "net" and "irc" on in the article does not make it anything but a silly sounding political rant. Lets not make Slashdot a political soapbox for a select few. There are other sites for that.

Far more than blame here... (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 13 years ago | (#302044)

While I agree with USians here that China's demands for an apology because their fast manouverable fighter plane couldn't avoid a slow, cumbersome big plane seem slightly unfair, I strongly suspect this is as much about Bush Jr's continued statements about how much a threat he considers China to be, and how we must arm Taiwan to the hilt with missile defence units as anything.

As with Kyoto, Bush Jr. calls it like he sees it; many Americans admire that in him, but it doesn't stop him having as much diplomacy as a bulldozer to the rest of the world.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

Sir Tristam (139543) | more than 13 years ago | (#302052)

The US plane was in distress and landed at the nearest airfield, which was the Chinese base.
This might be factually incorrect. There have been reports from Taiwan and Hong Kong that say that the decision to land in China might not have been up to the plane's crew. The Drudge Report [drudgereport.com] is reporting [drudgereport.com] that the South China Morning Post is reporting the following (quoting from the Drudge Report story since it is not permenant at the above URL):
The developments came as Chinese sources gave a more detailed account of the collision than that given by Zhao Yu, the second Chinese pilot.

Zhao told state-run TV that he and Wang initially tracked the EP-3 at a distance of about 400 metres in their F-8 fighters. He said the US plane veered abruptly, the propeller on its left wing smashing into Wang's plane and causing it to plunge into the sea.

The sources said Zhao's account was incomplete. After seeing the loss of Wang's plane, Zhao radioed ground control for permission to shoot down the US plane, but this was refused, they said.

"The officials at ground control were cool-headed," one source said. "Zhao could have shot the plane down but that would have meant the death of 24 US airmen. It would have been an act of war, whereas the collision was an accident."

The sources said that after the collision, the spy plane attempted to fly to the northeast, away from China. However, Zhao manoeuvred to prevent this and forced the plane to land at Hainan's Lingshui base, where it was immediately surrounded by Chinese military.

The report from Taiwan sources indicates that warning shots were fired by Zhao to encourage the US plane to turn back to China. I strongly encourage you to take this with a grain of salt, but to keep in mind that we still might not know all that there is to know about this incident.

I'm only guessing, but... (1)

ave19 (149657) | more than 13 years ago | (#302076)

When I was in the USAF, I worked at a unit that flew simmiliar collection flights. My guess is, the Chinese pilot was attempting to cut in front of the Orion to "scare" him into leaving his track. The closer, the better. It's not unheard of.

My guess is, the Chinese pilot made a mistake, misjudging the forward speed of the Orion, and clipped it.

No apologies necessary, it's the way the game is played.

So is the "Can we have our plane back now?" part of the game. "Sure! In crates after we dismantle it!"

no apology (1)

Alphons Clenin (160296) | more than 13 years ago | (#302091)

"because one culture can't apologize for an obvious accident and the other culture insists that only an apology can end the crisis."

If we apologize, it will be seen as an admission of wrongdoing, a confession. I wonder how China would treat the troops once they are confessed criminals? Reminds me of all of the rambo style movies where prisoners are "pressured" to confess so that they may get less severe punishment.

China sucks ass.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

Alphons Clenin (160296) | more than 13 years ago | (#302093)

THere was a story on the drudge report website yesterday about how the us plane tried to head away from china after the collision but was forced down by the remaining fighter. The story is no longer linked on his site. Does anyone have the text of this? I wonder if this is not picked up on by the more mainstream media because it is unreliable, or because they are news twisting asslickers with thier own agendas.

Re:no apology (1)

Alphons Clenin (160296) | more than 13 years ago | (#302094)

I suppose that the "China sucks ass" part was flame bait, but the rest was serious. Maybe I should have said "China's gov. sucks ass."

Re:Maybe (1)

EvlPenguin (168738) | more than 13 years ago | (#302113)

Great, now all we need is George W. on TV repeating: "There is no China.... There is no China..."

Re:Does not belong (1)

EvlPenguin (168738) | more than 13 years ago | (#302114)

IMHO, an international crisis qualifies as "stuff that matters".

Re:Overblown by the media (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#302116)

24 people are being held because china is trying to get all the tech they can from that plane.

Intelligence/Counterintelligence 101:
All countries spy on us, and we spy on all countries. We know this. We even know who the spies are. We don't stop them, because all the other countried know who our spies are, and they'd stop our spies. It isn't like Mission Impossible or James Bond.

The point is, that they probably know about the technology anyway. Otherwise, the E-3 would be flying around Area51, not China. I agree that we should get those soldiers home, but it isn't about the technology. Its about the politics.

Overblown by the media (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#302117)

This story was completely blown up by the media. It isn't a major issue, but without a war, the media always tries to start one. If the media didn't make this into some super-power trial, then the US would-of quietly apologized and everyone would be happy.

And Katz? He loves to take something the media blows up to make a controversial article in /.
At least stick to technology or science, or even linux next time, Jon! This crap isn't for nerd discussion, its just normal politics.

Re:Why Apologize? (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#302118)

but if we ran into them, what do you think the military specialist would do? Admit fault, or come up with as many reasons they can to prove it wasn't our fault?

Same with the media.

It all doesn't matter, though, because the illuminati controls it all and will determine the outcome. FNORD!

Re:Why Apologize? (1)

atheos (192468) | more than 13 years ago | (#302175)

"What I don't understand is why so many people say that this is clearly the US's fault" What, you mean China and Vietnam right? Oh yea, that is about 1/6 the population of the world. :P

Ha! (1)

z-axis (195410) | more than 13 years ago | (#302181)

Anyone who still harbors Utopian fantasies about the Virtual State -- you know, the Net and Web, global community, the digital economy and interactivity all combining to shatter existing boundaries, etc. -- should find the current U.S.-China confrontation finishing them off.

Make up your mind, Mr. New Jerusalem!

Sheesh Katz, c'mon (1)

donutz (195717) | more than 13 years ago | (#302184)

Second to none when it comes to macho military posturing, the U.S. can't say it's sorry for the accident and bring everybody home.

Look, I'm sure we can say we're sorry it happened, but should we say we're sorry we did it? Did we do it? We don't have all the facts yet, the Chinese do. And they're sure as hell not gonna admit it was their fault. That'd be very unlike them.

. . .

Katz isn't the real problem here (1)

donutz (195717) | more than 13 years ago | (#302185)

Besides, what would people complain about when he's gone? I guess we could just run more anti-MS propaganda...

. . .

But what's there to apologize for? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 13 years ago | (#302188)

The overly agressive fighter pilot passed below spy craft 3 times prior to crash [sunspot.net] , according to the detained crew.

US is spying -- everybody does -- from the international space. The Chinese are annoyed -- everybody would -- but there is nothing they can do, except to engage in provocations of this sort.

Well, this time the provocation went a bit too far. Like an annoyed driver trying to force a slow moving car in front of him to speed up, the Chinese fighter got too close and caused a rear-end collision.

If the spy plane did not land on the Chinese territory, there'd be no story. At all. Now the Chinese have some leverage and are trying to use it.

If Jon's point was, that US should apologize, just to end this quicker -- I disagree. This is not: "be wise, say you are sorry". There is no guilt to admit...


Naive (1)

Samarian Hillbilly (201884) | more than 13 years ago | (#302199)

I'd say its pretty naive to think the whole thing is about saying "sorry". It's probably also naive to consider it an accidents. Was it an accident that the US was spying on China? Maybe it also wasn't an accident that a Chinese plane got downed? It's certainly not an accident that 24 airman are being kept and possibley tortured for information.

I Demand an Apology! (1)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 13 years ago | (#302200)

From Jon Katz, for hoisting upon us his softy-liberal views mixed in with ridiculous software metaphores.

But it's not gonna happen, so I think I'll just execute the 24 programs i have from Katz... oh, wait, that wouldn't have the desired effect.


Who cares! (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 13 years ago | (#302208)

I'm sure the poor servicemen & women being held hostage in that backward ass country could give a flying fuck about who's fault it was. And I'm sure their families could care less also. They just want to come home. A government for the people, by the people, who doesn't care about the people....


Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 13 years ago | (#302209)

that's probably just what it is too, stories....


Re:I have an idea. (1)

Gehenna_Gehenna (207096) | more than 13 years ago | (#302221)

The EP-3 is a sophisticated peice of equipment. While the aircraft itself is an aging design they have proved themeselves easy to maintain and to have more than adeqate performance for their roles.

John Katz is an aging piece of work lacking sophistication. If Dubya where to attempt a trade with the chinese, a Katz for the captuered concept, the US would have a valid reason to apoogise to the Chinese government, and the Chinese would have something to run their tanks over other than dissident students.

Re:Why Apologize? (1)

gailwynand (213761) | more than 13 years ago | (#302256)

>>So we have a slow lumbering jet on AUTO-PILOY

yeah - not to nitpick, but I think this enhances your point: the US Navy plane is propellor driven, not even a jet. This of course makes it even more slow and lumbering...

Re:America's future - as a former power. (1)

mgw1181 (214961) | more than 13 years ago | (#302260)

Lol....no territorial ambitions!?! Tell that to the people of Taiwan, Tibet, and Vietnam.

Re:This pussyfooting business is making me sick (1)

BlowCat (216402) | more than 13 years ago | (#302264)

We're spending billions of dollars (a big chunk of our GDP) on national defense. And we never even use it!
I spend hundereds a year on my car insurance. And I have never used it. Maybe it's time for a small accident?

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#302268)

As a kid, I spent a lot of time fishing off the Connecticut coast. There were always Soviet "trawlers" sitting outside the 12 mile limit looking out for submarines leaving the base at Groton. Supposedly there were Bear aircraft, too, although I never saw one.

No one was happy about it and we used to give them the finger but there was no question they were within their rights to be there.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

interesting information (1)

zeus_tfc (222250) | more than 13 years ago | (#302277)

For some interesting information, try this commentary [e3mil.com] from a catholic website. (don't worry, its strictly a political commentary)

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 13 years ago | (#302279)

I don't know about spy planes, but I seem to recall a couple of MIG pilots defecting with their jets... Try this link [sprynet.com]

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 13 years ago | (#302280)

Libya tried the same thing over a decade ago.

They got bombed for their trouble.

International treaties only recognize out to 12 miles. Hell, if they Chinese had the technology to do a 13 mile fly-by of the West Coast, we'd have to let them.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 13 years ago | (#302281)

What would the USA do if the chinese kept flying planes up the cost of California, just outside the territorial boundaries? What would they do if one of these planes came down at an American air-base?

There would be an over 50% chance that the pilot would defect, and since we already know what Chinese jet technology is, they would probably get it back pretty quick.

Re:Maybe (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 13 years ago | (#302282)

Why am I thinking that we need a new mod type: Paranoid Fantasy...

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#302291)

Let's see. Russian spy ships and ballistic missile submarines were known to operate close to American territory. We never took any of them hostage.

Re:This pussyfooting business is making me sick (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#302292)

You have know idea what you're saying. I spent 8 years in the Army and have seen first hand the power of modern weaponry.

The Cart In Front Of The Horse (1)

zencode (234108) | more than 13 years ago | (#302308)

katz writes:
"...because one culture can't apologize for an obvious accident and the other culture insists that only an apology can end the crisis."

Look, first, for the record let me state that I have no problem with Jon Katz' articles.

That having been said, this was not an obvious accident. Yes, I realize that my country can be just as propagandist as the next one regardless of our warm fuzzies about being above all that, but we have two pieces of evidence before us which are irrefutable; an EP-3E and a F-8 were involved. Maybe I'm just harping on the somewhat loaded phrase of "accident", but if we discard all the other rhetoric, we're left with these two facts. The fault is theirs, regardless of how the diplomats want to massage it.

Worse, they want an investigation ...but an apology *first*. What?? I realize this will be tagged (and possibly modded down) as a jingoistic rant, but in this country, a person is (theoretically, see Mitnik) considered innocent until proven guilty. An apology does not come before the investigation.

My .02,

Prediction (1)

zencode (234108) | more than 13 years ago | (#302310)

I predict that this will be the most-commented story this year, if not in Slashdot history.

My .02,

Sorry is a great word, and America is frightened (1)

ishrat (235467) | more than 13 years ago | (#302315)

Even though as kids we were taught that sorry is one of the small change of language that gets you by in life. But as we grow, we seem to forget this plain thinking and link complex issues to utterring that magical word.

And this is the greatest example of that

Various grim-faced U.S. officials, from the President and Vice-President to the Secretary of State, have been rushing around in their big black limos, and issued guarded expressions of concern and sadness, but nobody can quite bring himself to say the magic words.

It's ego ego everywhere. Saying sorry could mean much more to America than just looking bad , it could affect their business, their so called proven superiority which may stand challenged and their image as through professional who never make mistakes.

We didn't do anything wrong -- you just got in the way.

I can almost hear that. The Americans should loosen themselves up a bit and stop trying to prove their superiority all the time and concentrate on actually progressing on that path rather than just sit and gaurd their superiority in things that may not matter after a while.

But then even though we all know that history repeats itself and everything that goes up must come down, we are condemed to repeat history.

In the end, I would also like to point out that there is going to be no one world till we are threatened by aliens from other planets and that may take a while.

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

MarkLR (236125) | more than 13 years ago | (#302318)

If they stayed out of US airspace - nothing. This occurred with Russia during the Cold War and still occurs when the Russians can get their planes up in the air.

Repetitive Deja Vu (1)

shyster (245228) | more than 13 years ago | (#302350)

Anybody else notice Katz' repeated, repetitive, redundant and duplicated opening paragraph? Deja vu is bad enough...but when it's deja vu on a Jon Katz' article, Yikes!

Every single news site has got a forum on this ... (1)

rixster (249481) | more than 13 years ago | (#302355)

.. and I'm getting bored !
It should really be multiple choice, not a slashdot thing. The comments will now go along the lines of either :
1) USA should apologise - they killed a Chinese pilot off the coast of China - what would happen if it was the other way around ?
2) China should apologise for the fighter pilot being too cocky and crashing
3) They both should apologise
4) China should release the airmen, but keep the plane
5) America shouldn't be a bully
and it goes on and on and on and on YYAAWWWNN.
(apologies for those offended by my lack of tact for this international incident, but this is a tech web site. I really don't want to read about this here. I want to read about un*x, windoze, space shuttle things, new cool gadgets, moon and mars rock etc etc).

Re:What's to apologize for? (1)

sojiro (255286) | more than 13 years ago | (#302375)

Not going to happen. The Chinese have nothing to lose from holding out for an apology. WTO? Olympics? Do those really matter when your population would lynch you for giving in to "American Imperialsim"? Look at it from the average Chinese person's point of view. On of your embassys gets bomb under dubius circumstances by a country that is supplying arms to what you consider a renegade province. Then, while spying on you, there is a collision. Wouldn't you be pissed to? The Chinese people think that their gov't caved in way to easily over the embassy bombing, so their going to take out their frustration by holding on for a real apology. I wouldn't expect either side to give in too soon.

The end of Bush (1)

WolfDeusEx (310788) | more than 13 years ago | (#302440)

I Bush can't sort this one out then it will be an end to his power (Which could be a good thing). He will end up like jimmy carter, not been able to get anythng done.

Anyway on a flambait point. I hope that china learn lots from that plane and that Bush's carier is wreaked by this. It would serve hime right for thinking he can play god with the worlds climite.

The Us 4% of the worlds population produces 25% of the woulds polution. Cheers guys, I allways wan't to be by the sea. BTW I am British

Re:Why Apologize? (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 13 years ago | (#302459)

Minor correction, the US plane was a slow prop job, not a jet. Though the rest of your analysis seems to be fairly correct. The Chinese pilot acted with reckless endangerment and paid the price. Hopefully next time, the Chinese government will send a pilot who acts a little more rationally.

Katz, you've got to be kidding me! (2)

anomaly (15035) | more than 13 years ago | (#302565)

The Chinese government is our enemy.

They have nuclear missles targeted on our cities RIGHT NOW!

They take the monies we pay them to make our kids toys and computer parts and use them to build defensive systems to use in attacking us! The money that flows from US purchases more than funds all of their military infrastructure, in spite of the 18% budget increase given to the military this year.

They have bribed unscrupulous US citizens into stealing military secrets in a campaign of espionage against us.

Just recently they attempted to purchase a building overlooking the Pentagon so they could advance their spy efforts.

This is one of the many reasons that I make every effort to avoid buying Chinese made products.


With respect to this incident, we were flying a slow plane on autopilot over international waters to listen to their emissions.

They were playing chicken with us, and messed up big-time. They collided with us while they were trying to intimidate us, and THEY caused this incident.

They are now holding 24 US citizens hostage, as well as scouring the plane for military secrets, and _WE_ should say "sorry?"

I'm simply incredulous.


PS - God loves you and longs for relationship with you. If you would like to know more about this, please contact me at tom_cooper at bigfoot dot com

Why not apologize? Honesty. (2)

youngsd (39343) | more than 13 years ago | (#302603)

The President of the United States warned that China's continued detention of 24 US Navy personnel "could" harm relations between the two governments. It damned-well should. This is a hostage situation, and our government appears to be primarily concerned about how this might somehow affect US corporate interests. The problem is that the President is thinking about the "government" of China in the wrong terms. The President's problem is likely that when he thinks of the "government" of China, he is thinking, "sovereign". He should be thinking, "thugs."

The "government" of China is no more legitimate than the Gambino crime family . I say this realizing that the comparison is extreme and unfair. The Gambino crime family, of course, has not murdered anywhere near as many people as the "government" of China. I apologize in advance to the Gambino crime family for any offense created by my comparison of them to the "government" of China -- none was intended. However, even though the magnitude of the crimes is, different, I think it is useful to use the familiar concept of organized crime when trying to assess the "government" of China. Organized crime, after all, is what the "government" of China is all about.

In any other situation, how would one characterize a group which seizes control of a geographic area (their "turf"), intimidating not only the inhabitants but also nearby neighbors who refuse to knuckle under? These thugs loot the wealth from the area, under the hollow pretext of "protecting" the victims. It is not primarily the detention of the 24 US Navy personnel that should outrage any decent person (although clearly it should), but the detention, torture and murder of the people of China and Tibet.

The watchword of the day is "diplomacy." Is there no limit to the monsters who can be legitimized by the constant intonation of the word "diplomacy" by those willing to play "make believe." Yasser Arafat . The IRA. The "government" of China. Perhaps if Hitler had lived, we could have simply tarted him up with the gaudy trappings of enough "diplomacy" to give him a legitimacy makeover. The question, of course is, why would we do such a thing? Why would we pretend that any of these people should be treated more like a dignitary than a mass murderer? The only reason I can begin to see is political expediency. This is pragmatism at its worst.

Honesty is still worth something. Murder is still the worst crime one can commit against another. Locking people up and torturing them for expressing their views is wrong. Cultural relativism doesn't bring back the dead or missing. The President should learn to call the "government" of China what it is: criminal.


Nationalism is outdated... (2)

Saige (53303) | more than 13 years ago | (#302616)

Nationalism is outdated, and rather illogical in the first place. And that's what this all boils down to. A few leaders that need to stroke their egos, and the egos of those people still sounding like five-year-old children crying "my country is better than your country".

It's not about honor, like some people suggest. Honor isn't about remaining steadfast and refusing to admit to a mistake at whatever cost.

Both countries made mistakes. The US military was just doing what it loves to do, find any way to push the limits, to get to the edge of what's legal and forget about the intent. That's why the spy planes so close to China's borders. China, on the other hand, sent a pilot who was known to cause trouble, to push things too close, while escorting and harassing the spy plane.

I find these "I'd rather do it my way than the right way" ideas to be downright pathetic. Sadly, they seem to be common. The voters who put people into office here in the US still have this belief that we should be fiercly defending the country, that we should be loyal to the flag no matter what. Therefore we have leaders that also follow such blind nationalism. Heck, it is any wonder that so many people find a piece of cloth more important than the freedoms it's supposed to stand for?

The whole crisis makes me sick. It's a huge game of chicken to satisfy a few male egos, with no regard or concern for what the result is. The real crisis should be for the citizens of both countries, with the realization of how poor and clueless their leaders really are.

D.I.Y. (2)

babbage (61057) | more than 13 years ago | (#302624)

Waiting for the Dubyuh administration to apoligize isn't going to get us anywhere. Better by far would be for the American people to apologize for the Bush administration [magnetbox.com] :
We're sorry!
Estamos apesadumbrados.
Nous sommes désolés.
Es tut uns leid.
Siam spiacenti.
Nós somos pesarosos.
[non-asciifiable Chinese text]

Well, if you've been keeping up on the news, you know all about the spy plane incident in China. Apparently, China demanded an apology - nothing more - and Bush refused! So, now exists this page, apologizing to the entire world for our stupid fucking president.

If you wish to apologize in the name of our soulless nation and leader, please fill out the card below.

There have been 5003 people who have apologized [as of around Tue Apr 10 11:39:05 EDT 2001].

Dear All Other Countries (But Especially China),

I'm sorry about my stupid fucking president.

Yours truly, [name]
from [city, state]

Any fake submissions for people that are not you will be deleted. Any submissions involving racist statements will be deleted. The creators of this site have the right for any submission they feel like to be deleted. If you don't actually want to apologize, don't. It will be deleted.

...and the big no-op is... (2)

iceT (68610) | more than 13 years ago | (#302636)

that the economic/trade impact of this entire stand-off will probably over-rule anything else. It'll be something stupid like "here's your people, but we blew-up your plane"... now, about the trade agreement.....

My Take (2)

Number6.2 (71553) | more than 13 years ago | (#302639)

This is not about China vs. the US. It's about the Chinese Military vs everyone else.

An unarmed US prop plane destroys a slightly-less-than-state-of-the-art yet armed-to-the-teeth and kick-ass-in-its-own-right Chinese military jet. That same prop plane lands on Chinese soil and (I assume) all that tasty spy gear has been destroyed and the crew more-or-less unharmed (sorry, I'm having a hyphen problem today).

Now, if one of our Tomcats was knocked down by a Chinese propeller plane, you can rest assured that the Pentagon would be called on the carpet. The press would have a field day. Heads would roll.

Now, if I remember my Asian psychology correctly, multiply the above paragraph by 100. the Chinese military is gonna be insane. Big Loss of Prestiege by people who are not used to eating crow. They don't have to justify anything to the West, they have to recover whatever face they can for their own survival.

Bad analogies... (2)

Speare (84249) | more than 13 years ago | (#302648)

The state is hyperreal -- it operates like software. It seems stable enough while the power is on and it hasn't run into any major bugs, but interrupt the power supply or corrupt it, and the state falls apart.

This is probably the worst analogy I've heard in a while. You don't have to mention 'software' or 'linux' to get geeks to understand something that's outside those realms. Don't try to make everything fit into those categories.

Software is a set of instructions, and the machine follows those instructions. Politics and sovereign diplomacy are comprised of thousands or millions of different people who each have their own agendas. If you pull the plug on a computer, it STOPS. If you corrupt a government, it STILL has thousands or millions of different people who each have their own agendas; the agendas are just that much more recklessly out of tune.

Re:no apology (2)

inburito (89603) | more than 13 years ago | (#302653)

That is exactly the cultural difference. In U.S. culture apology is an admission of wrongdoing to some extent but in chinese culture it is more of a polite formality in case of a mishappening. U.S. could at least say that they feel sorry instead of regretting the incident..

Apologize, then... (2)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 13 years ago | (#302655)

Do the same to any Chinese military crafts near the US air border.

Send an empty aircraft on autopilot, crash with it. Kill the pilot. And ask the Chinese government to claim total responsibility for the "death" of a non-existent US pilot.

Apologizing once can bring up so many opportunities. Think about it.

I have an idea. (2)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 13 years ago | (#302678)

Couldn't Bush just trade that EP-3 with China for Jon Katz? I'm sure the international community would approve that move. Send him in a work camp!


Re:What's to apologize for? (2)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 13 years ago | (#302679)

All very well, but if the tables were turned, what would have happened?

What would the USA do if the chinese kept flying planes up the cost of California, just outside the territorial boundaries? What would they do if one of these planes came down at an American air-base?

That being said, the Chinese should have released the air crew within 24 hours, and I would assume (hope?) that they would have destroyed any codes or sensitive data before allowing anyone on board.

A lot more at stake... (2)

don_carnage (145494) | more than 13 years ago | (#302682)

There is a lot more at stake here than simply "arcane language" or "diplomatic posturing" -- what about national pride? No one wants to loose-face here, not the Chinese nor the United States.

Oh, and don't forget the power that the Chinese now have over the AEgis destroyer arms deal with Taiwan.


Re:What's to apologize for? (2)

don_carnage (145494) | more than 13 years ago | (#302683)

So does China not abide by international law? And what if the fighter had not crashed? Would China still be requested an apology from the United States for flying in their "200 mile" airspace? I think not.


Maybe (2)

Slashdolt (166321) | more than 13 years ago | (#302700)

Maybe our government is lying to us. Maybe we really were at fault. Maybe we invaded China. Maybe the two governments just fabricated this story to create a stronger sense of nationalism. Maybe China doesn't really exist, I mean, I've never been there. Maybe I'm trapped inside The Matrix and I just don't know it. Maybe none of you really exist and I'm the sole sentient being in the universe, but if that's the case, then who created this elaborate scheme to make it seem so real? Maybe I was just created mere moments ago, but I was given all of these memories so that it would seem like I'd been here.

If it's not so, then prove it.

What this should clearly indicate (2)

taliver (174409) | more than 13 years ago | (#302701)

Is that there are countries who still hold ill-will towards the US. And I'm not talking about the companies in the US, or about the economic superiority of the US. I'm talking about countries who would like nothing more than to see the US gone from the map of the Earth.

China is not a friend. They have proven this. We should end economic aid to them (Can you believe we're giving these dogs money?) We should end trade with them. We should throw out there diplomats and any other chinese nationals (including students). We should make holding those American citizens (All 24+1 of them) as painful as possible, and not let up until they apologize to us.

Suckered by another /. troll (2)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#302722)

The United States seems not to comprehend a tradition that places an enormous premium on honor, face, and responsibility.

Uhh, Jon, that's the entire freaking point. China is using hostages to cause the US to lose face in East Asia. The audience for this whole mess is government officials in Vietnam and Taiwan, not whiny Americans who can't understand why we don't just kiss and make up.

I'm no Bush fan but at least he and his crew seem to be getting what the crucial issue is here. I shudder to think what would have happened with Clinton in power. By the way, anyone with the slightest clue about aviation knows who hit whom.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Never thought I'd say it, but (2)

human bean (222811) | more than 13 years ago | (#302724)

where's Richard Nixon when you need him? Say what you want, but he did smooth out relations with China for a good long time.

Aside from that, I suspect that, as in other incidents of this nature, neither side is telling the whole truth. Maybe we should both apologize and go home.

we will never..... (2)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#302725)

know the complete story. We will never know because the two governments involved don't want us to know. Both sides will continue to play this game until it is so saturated that no one cares. I'm at that point already.

Let's look at the big picture, apologise and get those soldiers home.

Bush should use IRC to appy-polly-oggy (2)

typical geek (261980) | more than 13 years ago | (#302732)

The way he talkes, it sounds like he's on IRC all the time.

Re:Why Apologize? (2)

markmoss (301064) | more than 13 years ago | (#302735)

There's no way that 4 engined prop plane _could_ run into a jet fighter.

America's future - as a former power. (2)

sociology major (325436) | more than 13 years ago | (#302737)

Here we see China beginning to flex its muscles in preperation for assuming its mantle as the world's most powerful state. Of course, this will not happen tommorrow, but China is an extremely ancient nation, ruled by octogenarians, that plans well in advance of the present.

The future as I see it seems clear to be dominated by China. It will become a 'King Khan' state, with an economy 5 times larger than that of the USA by the year 2020. However, because it will be focusing on building up its infrastructure and improving its people's quality of life, we should see the rate of technological advance in the world slow down. America is already hugely in debt to the far east, which contains the world's biggest creditor nations. All it takes is a blip for america to spiral into recession whil China steams ahead.

Many in the world will be wary of this new power, but it is well known that China is a much more outward looking nation that america historically speaking, and far less insular. It also does not have territorial ambitions, beyond claiming back its old lands, like Taiwan. Therefore life under a Chinese superpower should be relatively peaceful. The chinese do not send spyplanes over America, and ar far more relaxed and informed on world affairs.

I for one welcome our new leaders to be.

Easier if... (3)

syrupMatt (248267) | more than 13 years ago | (#302752)

The real problem here for the politico's lies in the fact that the age old practice of "villification" won't work here.

Usually in the past when confronted with a situation or crisis, we can point to specific incidents which stir the American public to believe that the other side is at fault, that they are treating Americans unfairly, and basically, make the job of standing on firm ground alot easier on them (even if its not particularly the correct position).

In this case, however, we are left with a deplorable situation where both sides made mistakes, both refuse to accept that fact, and there is no clear villan.

Was the United States spying on its trade partner and at least tenous friend, China? Yes. However, China has been guarded in its criticism of the purpose of the plane, considering their own espionage efforts against the United States.

Were the Chinese planes perhaps flying unsafely close to the American plane? Well, until a statement by the pilots is released, or flight logs seen, we wont really know. However, there has been acknowledged evidence in the past by multiple countries that China's pilots aren't exact the best in the world, and they tend to intercept at extremely close ranges.

Are the Chinese being unfair? Yes, in the fact that (at least as far as I can read), they haven't issued their apology for dangerous interception practices. However, post-incident, they have been extremely low-key and even gracious towards the situation. Their "prisoners" are being treated well by any standards and its not as if they are threating military action for this situation.

Is the United States being hard ass? Yes, and mostly due to political climates and military attitudes than due to lack of culpability. Now, dont get me wrong. I WANT a macho armed forces. But I also want one that can admit their wrong (considering many top leaders still believe in the Vietnam effort, perhaps I'm being naive here.)

See? No clear winners and losers. That makes taking a clear stand neigh impossible. Which is uncharted waters for both countries diplomatic corps, who usually follow a political and philosophical dogma which is, at least to them, unimpeachable.

This pussyfooting business is making me sick (3)

peacedove (325427) | more than 13 years ago | (#302754)

Either the US or China should declare war on the other, already. I'm sick of this crap.

It used to be that countries would declare war on each other because of petty rivalries between dukes and princes. Now, it sometimes takes an act of god to get them to go at it. How stupid is that?!?!

We're spending billions of dollars (a big chunk of our GDP) on national defense. And we never even use it! We shuffle our troops from base to base, sure, and we log our mileage and tally our days in service and hang our medals. But do we ever do anything productive? Do we ever kill anyone? Of course not.

Is it because we can't anymore? Bullshit. It's because we're afraid to. It's because we've let ourselves get castrated by the liberal media and their doomsday predictions about what might happen if one nation accidentally steps on the toes of the other.

Are we the world's largest superpower or what?!?! Is Bush to big a chump or is he just a pansy?!?!

If we don't start declaring open war on countries that disrespect our sovereignty, then foreign countries will think they can get away with pissing us off. Can you imagine FDR or Eisenhower letting the Chinese hold our American soldiers hostage like this? We haven't seen crap like this since Jimmy Carter, and let me tell you, those were some pretty sad days.

We must settle for no less than outright war. They think they have the upper hand now, but wait until we give it to them old-fashioned American style. They probably don't even have all those nukes they keep whispering about. Have we ever seen them detonate one? Well have we? NO! They don't exist.

Once open war is declared, our economy will boom. It'll be the answer to our recent economic downturn. Look at how WW2 pulled us out of the Depression. And look at how much more expensive modern equipment is. More expenses mean more contribution to our economy and our GDP. That means more funding for the military. It's a positive feedback loop.

And when we're done with China, we should go back to the USSR and show those guys what we're made of. We never bombed them for the U2 incident all those years ago, so it's time we showed them what for. That's what distinguishes the men from the Canadians.

Re:What's to apologize for? (3)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 13 years ago | (#302755)

That's very true, especially considering previous incidents with the same pilot. Supposedly this isn't the first time this pilot acted like an idiot. Apparently he pulled this same stunt on another flight, getting so close to the other plane that the american pilots could read a sign he was holding up to the window with his e-mail address written on it.

What's to apologize for? (4)

thermo (9732) | more than 13 years ago | (#302757)

The US plane was in international airspace on autopilot, the Chinese fighter pilot got cocky and accidentally hit the US plane.

The US plane was in distress and landed at the nearest airfield, which was the Chinese base.

Seems to me like the Chinese should apologize for the hot dog pilot.

It's not that simple (5)

Illserve (56215) | more than 13 years ago | (#302770)

Or maybe it's simpler. International diplomacies often seem to have the undercurrent of grade school recess. But the truth is, if our country appears to have weakness in the eyes of China, this could be taken as a sign of weakness, which will negatively impact future dealings. The political climate in China is complicated and (as I understand it), partially under the control of military interests.

I think the US government is aware of this, and is aware of just how important it is to deal with this situation correctly.

Sure, to those of us on the outside, it seems like an idiotic impasse. Just say you're sorry and no harm done, or is there?

While I admit our government doesn't often act in global best interests, and has become increasingly self-centered in recent years, I'm not willing to judge them on this manner. The emerging political dynamic between the US and China is extremely complex and this incident is going to be very influential in shaping our relations for years to come.

Maybe it's a sad state of affairs that countries can't just apologize and be done with it, but it's the way things are, and there are legitimate reasons that things are this way.

Missed the point again, Katz... (5)

deefer (82630) | more than 13 years ago | (#302771)

1) This isn't about apologies. It's about political manoevering by China or the US to use as a bargaining chip in any forthcoming negotiations.

2) The internet will not democratise China. The internet will not democratise China. The internet will not democratise China. Say it with me again, Katz, the internet will not democratise China. There are far too many inroads into China for western culture, but the internet is the smallest and easiest controlled. Wonder where those "billions" of dollars are going on "infrastructure"? I'd bet a pound to a penny you could get a good Echelon-type system together for even one billion...

Strong data typing is for those with weak minds.

Why Apologize? (5)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 13 years ago | (#302774)

What I don't understand is why so many people say that this is clearly the US's fault, and that the US should clearly apologize? From just about every news source I have read, military experts from around the world say that the chinese scenario of the EP suddently swerving into the smaller and faster chinese jet is ridiculous.

The pilot of the particular jet has even had a history of doing hotshot manuevers such as coming up from beneath the splyplanes directly in front of them, giving them a jolt--a move perfected by the soviets originally. So we have a slow lumbering jet on AUTO-PILOY! and a small, limber, and fast jet being flown by a hot-shot--where do you think the fault lies?

The US has offered to help look for the downed pilot--the offer of help has indeed been extended several times, and has been rejected several times by the Chinese government. If they really cared about the downed pilot, wouldn't they want all the help they could get--I know I would? Instead they criticize the US government being too cowardly to apologize. Apparently having the US kowtow to Beijing is more important than the life of their downed man. But of course they also work the Chinese public up to frenzy over him, thanks to the Xinhua government owned news agency and other propaganda machines.

So in short, I see no reason for the US to apologize for an accident that almost definitely wasn't their fault, and especially to a government whose actions reek of insincerity and sheer politicing as much as those of the communist chinese do.

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