"This has been
a difficult situation for both our countries."
President George W. Bush
full text of the letter from U.S. Ambassador Joseph Prueher to Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan,
as issued by the U.S. embassy on Wednesday April 11, 2001, and remarks of President Bush:
Dear Mr. Minister,
On behalf of the United States Government, I now outline steps to resolve this issue.
Both President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have expressed their sincere regret over your missing pilot and
aircraft. Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of the pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss.
Although the full picture of what transpired is still unclear, according to our information, our severely crippled
aircraft made an emergency landing after following international emergency procedures. We are very sorry the entering of
China’s airspace and the landing did not have verbal clearance, but very pleased the crew landed safely. We appreciate
China’s efforts to see to the well-being of our crew.
In view of the tragic incident and based on my discussions with your representative,
we have agreed to the following actions:
Both sides agree to hold a meeting to discuss the incident.
My government understands and expects that our aircrew will be permitted to depart China as soon as possible.
The meeting would start April 18, 2001.
The meeting agenda would include discussion of the cause of the incident,
possible recommendations whereby such collisions could be avoided in the future,
development of a plan for prompt return of the EP-3 aircraft, and other related issues.
We acknowledge your government’s intention to raise U.S. reconnaissance missions near China in the meeting.
Joseph W. Prueher
George W. Bush's Remarks at the White House on April 11:
I'm pleased to be able to tell the American
people that plans are underway to bring home our 24 American servicemen and women from Hainan Island. This morning,
the Chinese government assured our American Ambassador that the crew would leave promptly. We're working on arrangements
to pick them up and to bring them home. This has been a difficult situation for both our countries. I know the American
people join me in expressing sorrow for the loss of life of a Chinese pilot. Our prayers are with his wife and his child.
I appreciate the hard work of our Ambassador to China, Joseph Prueher, and his entire embassy team, who worked tirelessly
to solve this situation. The American people, their families, and I are proud of our crew, and we look forward to welcoming
them home. Thank you.