American and Chinese officials found little common ground in two and a half hours of tense talks in Beijing today aimed at ending the diplomatic crisis that began with an April 1 collision and now threatens to damage U.S. – China relations.
Each side reportedly hardened its position, as both nations accused the other of causing the crash, which killed a Chinese pilot. Americans said the smaller Chinese jet came too close to the large U.S. Navy plane. Chinese officials say they have evidence that the American plane swerved sharply just before the collision, but have not released any details.
American officials are demanding the return of the damaged $80 million EP-3 surveillance plane that landed on Hainan Island after a collision with a smaller Chinese jet.
Pentagon officials said they will not resume negotiations until the Chinese agree to discuss the return of the plane.
Chinese officials, for their part, continued to blame the U.S. for the accident and have said they may keep the plane until they finish an investigation of the collision.
The Chinese have also demanded that the U.S. end its eavesdropping missions along the Chinese coast. American officials said they have no intention of stopping the flights, although they may not be resumed immediately.