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Hyperreality: The U.S-China Standoff 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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Hyperreality and the U.S-China Standoff

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why are you being so childish?
  • Jon,

    Do you have ANY clue what you write about? The P-3 is the air equivalent of the big yellow school bus. It's slow, noisy, and well-known among naval pilots for making unseasoned crew members lose their lunch. The MIG that you seem to think was the innocent victim is more like a Mustang. Small, fast, not that sturdy and much more maneuverable. You're basically suggesting that if a school bus is driving around in a deserted parking lot and two mustangs are circling it, trying to touch bumpers, that it's the school bus at fault when one of the Mustangs ends up as a Car-B-QUE.

    You have virtually no experience with the Navy's air programs, no experience with international politics and therefore NO right to suggest you have any idea whatsoever who is at fault.

    Asshole. Go thump the Geek Pride bible a bit more. At least you're marginally good at that.


  • The problem is that an apology isn't merely a word that makes everybody feel better. If the US apologizes, then they're accepting responsibility for the incident. This would give China, and other countries, a method of preventing the US from engaging in these types of flights. Additionally the US could be pressure to accept damages caused by the incident.

    Additionally, it should be conisdered that China has previously used the military strategy of "we have more people than you have bullets", it's a dangerous idea to even hint at accepting responsibility for an incident that wasn't the US's fault. Not to be cynical, but I don't imagine that Beijing would have any great issue with making it procedure to ram every P3 that flew by their coast.

    It's a horrible game, and everybody loses. Unfortunately, once somebody starts playing it, there's no obvious way to stop.

    "Don't trolls get tired?"

  • While Katz gives a good overview of the latest Sino-American conflict, a little more research can bring a few items to light. I'll underscore this with a phrase:


    Go to Google's Groups (the old Deja news archive) and check out and Look for China, and it's domain ".cn". Look at all the spam being bounced from it. Look at all the attempts to clue in China. Sysadmins and spam fighters have to imitate "freeing Taiwan" messages "erronously sent" to China's government just to shut them down or secure them.

    With the continued cluelessness of China, a wall is being built, brick by brick, system by system, blocking any email comming from China. Eventually, a majority of it will be filled by the MAPS RSS and RBL -- filled in concrete. When it is complete, it will be the Greatest Virtual Wall of China ever completed.

    Why should we apologize to China for it's lack of security as they "blunder" into the technological age? We want to help, but they continue to loose face over the Internet for being ignorant.

    WolfSkunks for a better Linux Kernel

  • The political system which you advocate had no difficulty in engaging in the most vicious slaughter of the 90s. Occidental culture still has not forgotten the profound insult of this purge, which was by no means limited to Tienamen, and caused a mass import of troops from outside regions because many in the Chinese army refused to fire upon thier own.

    In the final analysis, totalitarianism is not a workable form of government, which has been proved in many nations other than China, and which will be proved in China in due course. It is hoped that China will make gradual alterations to their government as economic prosperity deepens, but this is by no means the only avenue of change.

    The Chinese decided, for whatever reason, that they wanted this particular plane. Perhaps it observed something that it was not meant to see, and perhaps it was taken simply to demonstrate resolve. In any case, it was taken illegally, and it stresses China's qualities as a rogue nation, inobservant of the rule of law.

    I believe that the Bush administration should offer any appology that might cause the release of the hostages; I do not feel that the situation is being handled appropriately. These are Americans and members of the US, and I do not feel that Bush is doing enough to safeguard his own.

    To the Chinese, who will not tolerate our "spy" missions, I say return all copies of the plans to the W88 nuclear device which you stole from the US. Your claims that you are the innocent victim of espionage fall upon the deaf ears of the world.

  • We didn't capture any Russian ships or airplanes in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Russian Missiles were there in Cuba to offset American Missiles in Turkey. The Russian UN and US Ambassitors were asked privately and publicly if there were missiles in Cuba and they said no.

    Then it became a poltical game.

    Go see Thirteen Days and you might understand better.
  • The deal is, the evil globalist conspiracy has been plotting for a way to get the US and China to war for decades now. Starting with Korea. When the US and China war, the outcome will be a much lower population (more elbow room to grow), and a strengthened economy (big corps selling lots of bombs).

    The efforts have been stepped up in recent years with the Taiwan flap, missiles, National Missile Defense, Missile and Nuclear Weapons technology falling into Chinese hands (war won't do anyone any good if lots and lots of people aren't killed, we proved that with Iraq, we were so overwhelmingly superior, that we couldn't get a clean moral judgement out of a full-on victory, so we have this BS political stalemate. - so China has to have their technological force built up so they are a more even match for the US, to justify the US really thoroughly pounding the commies. this is the final battle, communism's last stand. After this, there will be nothing to stand in the way of global corporatism taking over the entire earth.
    The spy plane flap is NOT about the pilots, or about whose fault it is. It's about the Chinese dragging this out long enough to get as many secrets out of that plane as possible.

    If you believe that it's at all about figuring whose fault it is and getting an apology, then riddle me this;
    why the fuck hasn't anyone looked at the flight recorders from BOTH planes, and figured out exactly who veered into whom?
  • I almost forgot the other "side effect":

    It will be disproportionately the young that will die in this war. Weakening the power of that political base, just like with Viet Nam (whose main purpose was to cull the Baby Boomers generation, which was diluting the more aged, conservative, corporate-sponsored power base in the US)

  • I've also read speculation that the E3 contained a "magnetic pulse" weapon, which may have been used to "discourage interception" by enemy fighters, and might have been a little TOO effective.
  • See?

    And WHY wasn't this post the FIRST POST of this whole discussion? It would have been a much more interesting discussion if more people besides just ME read it.
  • This situation was most likely not the fault of the US, and we would NEVER apologise for something that was not our fault.

    The US owned plane involved in this collision was a spy plane. At the time of the collision, it was at best a military vehicle trespassing in foriegn airspace. Likely, it was invading the privacy of the chinese citizens it was spying on. Had this incident occured over international waters, one could argue that the usual rule of "larger vessels have the right of way" applied and that the operator of the smaller jet operated improperly. Such an argument doesn't apply here because the larger jet should not have been present at all.

    If the United States were allowed to place the blame for this crash with China, it would be just like a peeping tom blaming a bad fall on unsafe tree conditions in the yard of the person whom they were peering in on. We don't allow such an argument in civilian space, and we certainly shouldn't allow it in military space. Sure, it is prudent to keep dead branches pruned, but the weak branches would not be an issue if a trespasser were not illegally climbing the tree to perform an illegal invasion of privacy in the first place.

  • That's interesting that you say "poor showing in the debates", because the Media was painting it as if Bush had won the debates clearly.

    Honestly, I was not a big proponent of Gore at first. But I had an opportunity to see how he handled himself while on campus at Microsoft after the April court decision. It was televised on C-Span, and I was amazed at just how well he handled such a delicate and tough situation.

    He would have been a far better choice than President-by-default that we have today.

    But ohwell.

    As far as Corruption in the Clinton administration. This is difficult to say. The majority of all charges that had been thrown up against Clinton failed to stick because they were untrue. But that didn't stop Republicans from continuing to throw charges.

    Personally I think there was an ulterior motive, not so much to take down Clinton but as to wipe out the long image of Corruption which had charecterized the Reagan/Bush administration of the past.

    As much as one might dislike Clinton for being self-absorbed and corrupt, the Reagan/Bush administrations were far far worse and blatantly public about it.

    We even see that today with the new Bush administration, he's rolled over on many issues solely based on who funded his campaign.
  • Ahh, more Republican lies.

    The newspaper looked at the votes, and if they had been counted the way the Republicans wanted them to be, Gore won by 1 vote.

    Unfortunately there is a lot more to the story than that.
  • That's what distinguishes the men from the Canadians.

    I think us canadians don't need your type of men.

    Besides, we have Jean Chrétien. No diplomat would ever want to face off our premier's wife with her deadly frying pan.

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • We're spending billions of dollars (a big chunk of our GDP) on national defense. And we never even use it!

    We did use it. The Strategic Defense Inititative (SDI aka Star Wars) finished off the USSR. Their military tried to match it, and spent itself into oblivion. Plus, SDI helped me get through college as well (defense jobs) :)

    So now we've got China to deal with. Funny how we're talking about missile defense again. It worked once....
  • I'm sorry that a Chinese fighter pilot was outmaneuvered by an American autopilot.

    I'm sorry that Taiwan feels so threatened by SEVERAL HUNDRED CHINESE BALLISTIC MISSILES POINTED AT THEM that they want to buy a few Aegis cruisers so they'll have half a prayer of defending themselves. (Time for a variant of the "zero option" that Reagan proposed to the former Soviet Union?)

    I'm sorry that China took a wrong left turn last century after America helped bail them out of Imperial Japanese occupation (Flying Tigers volunteers, etc).

    I'm sorry that the ICBM technology the Chinese Communist Party bought/stole from America will be rendered largely irrelevant by the antiballistic missile systems we're going to build now that there's a Republican in the White House.

    I'm sorry that the Chinese Communist Party lost their investment in the American Democratic Party.

    I'm sorry that most of the smart Chinese have hauled ass out of mainland China, or there might be someone left to tell the Chinese government and military how F------ STUPID they look to the rest of the world. "Don't shoot the messenger" really is good advice. And don't send them to labor camps, either.

    (Append "NOT!" as appropriate.)
  • The chinese do not send spyplanes over America

    Like the U.S. would be stupid enough to actually let the Chinese even get that close...
    You gotta get up real early around here if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • I know it's a joke, but I'm gonna use it make a point.

    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.

    I hear this all the time -- it's a little disingenuous. To say that war is good for a country's economy is to not count the opportunity cost of all those men and material killed and destroyed by war. It's not as simple as "war is good for an economy".
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Don't get me wrong -- I like idealism, as I'm one myself, only a Libertarian (and libertarian) idealist. I wish I had the answer.

    However, the best answer I've ever come up with is "Let people live their lives as they see fit, as long as it doesn't hurt somebody else, and don't let a minority of people gain power over the majority". It won't be perfect, nor pain and anguish-free, but it's the best we've been able to come up with thus far.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Sure, McDonalds pushes to get into other countries, but the McDonalds corporation does not go out and force people at gunpoint to line up outside the Moscow Mickie D's.

    The Moscovites were so anxious to throw off the loving, benevolent, fair, friend-of-the-earth, hug-a-bear Communist regime that any form of Western culture they could get their hands on was adopted and adored immediately

    I've been to a McDonalds in the heart of Italy. It was just as packed as the one in New York City, and Ronald McDonald was not herding kids at gunpoint into the building to buy Happy Meals.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • Um, this isn't about diplomatic posturing, saving face, culture clashes, or apologies. The entire point of this confrontation is the status of the South China Sea. The Chinese have made a territorial claim over virtually the entire South China sea, in stark violation of international law, and for the US to apologize in this case would essentially be the same as recognizing the legitimacy of Chinese territorial claims. Go look at a map to see why pretty much everyone except the Chinese would consider this a bad thing.

    Not everything's a cultural gesture, Jon. In this case, it's an attempt at using a mixture of threats and actual military force to annex some of the most valuable and heavily traveled sea lanes on earth.


  • Just because people from China are nice does not mean that their government does not bear ill will towards the USA. Just because people from China happen to like the USA does not mean that their governemnt does not wish for the USA to be destabilized or deposed as a major world power.

    If by "they're nice" you mean "they appreciate and value the US and wish it no ill will", they have two choices: take steps to remove their current government which patently disagrees with them (good luck!), or defect.

    Consenting to an illegitimate or malicious government is a far worse crime than establishing one.

  • China demanded an apology - nothing more
    Thank you for publicly demonstrating abject ignorance of what the Chinese are actually demanding. As Katz himself says in the second paragraph, what the Chinese want is not a traditional American "sorry about that, pal"; they want "dao qian". They want us to concede that it happened just like they say (without the opportunity to review physical evidence or interview people involved) and that we accept full responsibility (read: liability, culpability).

    Personally, I'm still waiting for the Chinese to apologize for stealing nuclear weapons technologies or interfering illegally with our electoral process by way of massive financial contributions to a particular political party who shall go unnamed.

  • You have virtually no experience with the Navy's air programs, no experience with international politics and therefore NO right to suggest you have any idea whatsoever who is at fault.
    One of the beautiful things about the US is that Katz has the right suggest whatever he wants, and we have the right to point it out when he's being a pompous, presumptuous, uninformed gasbag.

    Contrast with, oh, I don't know... pick an arbitrary example... China.

  • Of course, Americans would interpret Chinese planes flying off its own coast (in "international waters") as a sign of aggression.
    As has been pointed out by at least a hundred other posts, we certainly didn't do that to the soviets who flew off our own coast.

    Why was the US plane there? It was spying on China,
    We could debate semantics, but it wasn't spying - it was conducting reconnaissance. The existence, location, and purpose of the plane was in no way clandestine or disguised. It was picking up broadcast signals - I'll say that again, broadcast signals - reaching 12+ miles off the coast. This doesn't even remotely rise to the level of spying ("to watch secretly as a spy" -> "Spy[n]: one who keeps secret watch on a person or thing to obtain information; a person employed by one nation to secretly convey classified information of strategic importance to another nation")

    In fact, in 1976, a Soviet fighter plane was returned to the Soviet Union in crates after it carried a defector into Japan.
    Again, your choice of words is misleading at best - the plane did in fact carry a defector into Japan, but that defector was not carried against his will - he delivered the plane himself, of his own free volition; very different from the questionable circumstances of an in-air collision (in which, according to common navigational law, the benefit of the doubt goes to the larger, less-maneuverable vessel) leading to an emergency landing.
  • Dear Mr. Katz, I'm afraid I don't care to spend too much time critiquing your work any more. I used to get all worked up and interested. "Nations operate like software"??? Oversimplification. "They should get on IRC"??? Do you even use IRC? If so, which channel? I'd love to come and flame you. "Identity economy"? What's that? I don't understand you anymore... -nate
  • Jon,

    I think you are forgetting two issues when dealing with China:

    1. China by its historic cultural norms tend to be quite xenophobic. After all, the literal translation of the Chinese phrase for their own country means Middle Kingdom--which means they feel they are the center of the world. And their xenophobia has been enforced by the Mongol invasion, the divviing up of China by the European colonial powers, and the Japanese invasion of World War II. That's why they tend to deal with outsiders suspiciously.

    2. China's massive government bureaucracy takes a while to respond to almost anything--especially diplomacy. After all, you are talking a government that needs to rule a population six times that of the USA population. Also, I personally think there is much behind-the-scenes infighting between the Chinese military and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on how to resolve this mess. Remember, the Chinese want to hold the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, and this incident is NOT going to help things on the international front.
  • The problem with the failure oi diplomacy is that people die in extremely unplesant ways.

    If you want the US (300M people) and China (+1,000M people) to slug it out, over an apology, may I suggest an orifice you should apply your lips to.
  • Another story that I seem to recall: In the 1970's, when a Russian spy plane was forced to land near Japan, it was taken quietly into an American base, dismantled, and sent back to Russia in pieces two/three weeks later.

    Was the pilot at least offered political asylum? For it's sure that after that stunt, he'd end up in the G.O.U.L.A.G...


  • The *REST* of the planet is trying their damndest to get Madonna and McDonalds in their countries as fast as they can. The LEADERS in other countries have a ton of ideas about how the world should be run -- all of them bad. American doesn't want to rule the world, they just want to have a good time on Saturday night.

    Correction. Mc Donald and Watchamacallit records marketing directors are making their damnest to **SHOVE** Madonna & Mc Donald's down the throats of other countries who normally wouldn't give a shit about that. The rest of americans **ONLY** want to have a good time on Saturday night.


  • Nothing could be futher from the truth. China is a xenophobic, imperialist, racist nation. Only the most xenophobic people on earth could have come up with the Great Wall of China. China has always shunned the outside world, even when the ideas from the outside world would better their society. That is why the nation that 1000 years ago was the greatest nation on earth no longer is the greatest nation on earth. They cannot learn from the outside world.

    If I'm not mistaken, Communism is an European invention. And Mao used Communism to better the life of HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of peasants. So what is your point?


  • If a nation simply appeases at each standoff, then the smaller wolves will gain some bravery. Look at Israel and it's neighbors.. They've gone to war numerous times to assert themselves in the bullied area. Sure they don't play nicely either, but they're still here as a nation because they have the means and the resolve to confront bullies.

    That's because the american media is pro-israeli and is thus able to make public opinion believe that israel is good whilst the arabs are bad. Thus, no anti-israeli politican ever gets elected (they get weeded-out pretty fast) and so, the official US policy is to back israel.

    In fact, the arabs are quite stupid in that matter; if they were any intelligent, they'd make peace with the jews, and then, deprived of an ennemy, the jews would kill each other...


  • Nationalism is outdated, and rather illogical in the first place.[...]

    Words that can only come from a citizen of an imperialist nation. You would not say that if your nation was dominated by another one whose values are quite alien to yours, and forced to follow alien rules.


  • The rhetoric that comes out of their country is largely overlooked in the US. Many of their leaders (political, social, military) have spoken openly of their expectations that the US will become a "has been" in the coming century. [...]

    And can you blame them, when in the USA, the pityfully small movie and recording industry demands that the much bigger computer industry includes compulsory copy protection in storage devices, to insure that it's wares aren't fairly used???


  • Taken from a liberal standpoint they have the worst record on "human rights violations".

    They also been around for 20 times longer than the U.S.

    They ignore the environment only to further their communist regime (all commi countries do this).

    How about Dubya's plans to open up Alaska for oil drilling?


  • So what do they do in response? They forcibly imprison 24 of our people. 24 people denied their freedom and separated from their friends, coworkers, and family.

    Those 24 people (as well as the one who died) are **SOLDIERS**, who are, by definition **EXPENDABLE**. It's even part of their JOB DESCRIPTION.

    This is the true face of Communism.

    And the true face of capitalism wants to send people to jail for copying songs or movies.


  • Note to Katz: go to Mongolia. Don't bring any techno-gizmos at all. Remain unwired for a month. Watch the traders and tribesmen. See how they interact.

    Note to infonaut [] : Mongolia used to rule [] China [].


  • Scroll to the bottom of this page [] for more information on the complexities of this corner of the world.

    Watch this:

    Independence: 221 BC (unification under the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty 221 BC; Qing or Ch'ing Dynasty replaced by the Republic on 12 February 1912; People's Republic established 1 October 1949)


    221 years ***BEFORE*** Jesus H. Fucking Christ (yeah, the dude who got nailed 1968 years ago) !

    Beats the shit outta 1776!!!!


  • Of course, the Chinese pilot was already violating FAA rules. Specifically, 91.111.b states that formation flying requires arrangement with each of the involved pilots.

    I didn't know that the FAA had jurisdiction over International airspace, or over Chinese airspace, for that matter...


  • As a side note. KAL 007 was a Korean Air Lines 747 passenger jet that penetrated Soviet airspace accidently and was shot down. It is interesting to note that its course matched what a recon penetration would look like, and a 747 on radar looks just like an E-2 (military 707). That said, the Soviet pilots got a visual ID before they fired, so they knew it was a civilian aircraft.

    KAL has a long history of having planes straying over soviet airspace. In the late 1970's, a KAL Boeing 707 was shot down over the Soviet-Union and was able to do an emergency landing on a frozen lake. Turns out that it was a gross navigational error where the crew mistook the geographic north pole with the magnetic north pole; the plane turned changed almost 180 near the pole; when they were shot down, they were damn sure they were over Canada...

    As for KAL-007 (what a number!), there were american spyplanes in the vicinity when it got shot down.


  • I think Katz does this shit deliberately just to take the piss...

    "Hyperreal" is a mathematical term. I'm not going to go into nonstandard analysis and infinitesimals here - those who care can Google [].

    Let's take a look at the context in which Katz uses the word "hyperreal":

    • "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."
    • "If states are hyperreal, then so are agreements and understandings between nationalist governments."
    • "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."
    Finally, he instructs us to "Talk about hyperreal."

    At no point does his use of the word make any sense. He does not define it directly, and it's real meaning does not match the context in which he has used it.

    I therefore conclude that Katz has coined this word (not realising that it is already in use) as a means of sounding knowledgable.

    Basically, he's wanking (as defined by Bobby Shaftoe in Cryptonomicon). I wish I had time to sit around, reading obscure books about the Internet, theorising, philosophising, wanking and inventing new words, but I'm too fucking busy dealing with the real world, earning shitloads of money.


  • I wasn't trying to rattle sabres, nor was I trying to say that the Chinese are ready to roll on over here and burn the White House. However, I do think that they're probably more than happy to fight back, in any way they can, when they feel they need to. And they'll have a lot of strength in convictions on their side (unlike, perhaps, the Iraqi soldiers surrendering in droves).

    Like, for example, what would happen if Taiwan were to declare their independence? It's no longer outside the realm of possibilities that China could immediately invade Taiwan. The fact that the US has said that we'll defend Taiwan is no longer as big a deterrent as it might have been. And that could mean the lives of US soldiers and sailors, even if not civilians back at home.

    That said, the papers you cited are good reading, too, and helps to at least ameliorate any fears of a direct Nuclear confrontation (which I never personally harbored, anyway).

    I guess what I'm getting at is that China poses as much a threat now as the Soviet Union used to. That is to say, though they have no intentions of invading us, and they're just as afraid of us as we are of them, they're also convinced that they're right and are willing to fight to the death to protect their interests. I'm just concerned that most of the US isn't sufficiently aware of this, and thinks of China more as a source of cheap electronics and toys than as a true Superpower to be reckoned with.

  • it appears to me VERY likely that in the next decade China will either invade Taiwan or at least assist sympathetic residents in a coup attempt.

    Here's a funny thought - if the US offered citizenship and amnesty to any Taiwanese citizen that wanted it, what are the odds that we could evacuate most of the people as well as economic and "intellectual" assets to mainland USA before China could take over? ("Ha!", says the Chinese military, "We have captured your evacuated island with a bunch of empty buildings on it! We win!"....)

    Just a random thought...

  • After that of course, you can prove how a fast moving plane is able to avoid the turn of a slower plane if the slower plane moves into the path it is flying.

    Your sarcasm is a bit misplaced if you consider that to make the analogy work, you need to have the motorcycle rider driving circles around the container truck, trying to force it off of the road...

  • but I also happen to realize that a simple "I'm sorry" would have our crew home within hours

    What makes you say that? They have yet to actually say our hostages will be released if we say "I'm sorry" (which we have) and admit complete guilt for this incident (which we haven't). They still have yet to come out and officially say what conditions have to be met for the crew to return home. They claim to be doing an official investigation and will not return the crew until it is over.

  • I stand corrected. Appearently a simple apology WAS all they wanted. If they had just said that and stopped this whole "US must bear full responsibility for collision" garbage this could have been over long ago.

  • I've heard this several times now, and only question it because we hadn't heard anything about it before. You have to remember that we had full radio communication with this plane until after it had landed, and I'm SURE that the pilot would have said something if he had been forced to land. The pilots own words, however, indicated that he chose that airfield because of its proximity, and nothing else.
  • Hmmm build DEFENSIVE systems to use in ATTACKING...

    I was using the "1984 speak" that we've all adopted.

    Didja ever notice that the War department was renamed the defense department?
  • no one was calling China an "enemy" until January 20th,
    I disagree. The Chinese leaders have been philosophically opposed to the US for a very long time. They have made every effort to get the upper hand in every way.

    You may see this as "the way of the world" but I see it as a country that would very much like to abolish the freedoms that we have in this country.

    The Chinese government is as much our enemy as the USSR ever was.

    It takes about 5 minutes to target a missile.
    My understanding is that the guidance computers in those systems are sufficiently primitive that it requires a substantive effort to reprogram them They are programmed with targets because it is assumed that there would not be time to meaningfully program them in the event of a nuclear war.

    they are not being used. So chill out.
    Are you familiar with the term "mutually assured destruction?"
    A theory of deterrence based on NOT using missiles!

    Even if they are not in flight at this time, they are a threat to us.

    some of the money we get from our economic ties with them end up in our defense systems The imbalance of trade is such that effectively zero dollars from the Chinese economy goes toward defense, and the entirety of their defense budget is paid by our purchases.

    When you buy that cooling fan, or dog's chew toy, or baby stroller, you're effectively giving that money directly to their military so they can build more missles to point at us.

    a simple "I'm sorry" would have our crew home within hours,
    I'm immediately reminded of Neville Chamberlain: []

    "We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe." Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said: "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

    You're right. "Sorry China. We're afraid of you and want to kiss up to you in spite of the fact that you blew it." It is a game. We both played by the rules, edging toward the limits of the rules and they fell over the line. When that happens, the one who fell apologizes. Period. Now lets have their apology and be done with it.

    After the NATO screw-up, Mr. Clinton apologized like crazy, and this [] was their response:
    "They were so indifferent. They simply said, 'Well, we're sorry.' Then they shrugged their shoulders and walked away," said Li Zhaoxing, China's ambassador to Washington.

    It's just not that simple, as much as I'd like it to be that simple. In this case, their desire to save face is conflicting with the need to apologize.

    I hope that the crew was really able to destroy the OS and data on the systems on the plane before it was captured.

    I want them home, too. My heart goes out to them, but they are players in the big game of international relations, and the other side has captured our pawns.

    Stinks to be them.
    I'm praying for them.
  • So you think War is fun?

    Absolutely NOT!
    War is awful, brutal, and horrible. War is not like Rambo, and that is abundantly clear.

    There are times when it is unavoidable.
    I'm not saying that we should go to war with the Chinese. I'm just saying that it offends me to think that the Chinese government should expect us to cowtow to their demands.
    We are not to blame for this incident. Our people should be home.
    They need to let them go, and give us our plane back.

    FWIW, I don't think that God is a great fan of war, but I think that He knows sometimes you must stand up to evil.
  • normally I don't respond to ACs, but this one emailed me privately after posting this to the discussion, so I thought I'd post my response publicly after sending it directly to him.

    > Where do you think our nuke missiles point?
    Do you think we have nukes pointed at people who don't have nukes pointed at us? That's the deal. If they spin down their birds, we spin ours down.

    > Where do you think a big chunk of OUR tax dollars go into? Military.
    As they should. We have lots of interests to protect.

    > For what? When's the last time the Chinese had bombed a US Embassy?
    When's the last time they stole our nuke sub secrets, or our navy secrets, or our army secrets?

    > When's the last time we've bombed THEIR'S?
    That was a NATO accident. We were wrong. And we apologized.

    > You are naive to think that the US doesn't spy on the Chinese.
    > Hell, we consider the recon flight *ROUTINE*.
    I never said that we don't. Of course we do. But we do it within the rules of fieldcraft. In this incident, they broke the rules, one of
    their people died, and now they are holding our citizens hostage.

    > Those weren't US citizens,
    Sure they are. you can't be in the military unless you're a citizen.

    > those were SOLDIERS on a MILTIARY aircraft,

    > they landed in a country they were SPYING on,
    > and they are being DETAINED and treated WELL.
    Oh thank you thank you thank you for taking care of our people,
    why what do we owe you for providing for the needs of our

    They landed in China because they were attacked by a Chinese warplane
    and the alternatives were to crash in the ocean and die or land in
    China. If China had not attacked a plane over int'l waters doing what
    was legal by int'l law to do, they would not be there. Period

    > Hostage implies a threat of force, there is none here.
    With the Chinese government, there is always the threat of force.

    > Hell, what would you do if I stand accross the street from you,
    > and watch your wife strip and shower?
    1. Close the blinds
    2. Call the police and report a "peeping tom"
    3. Ask my wife to perform step 1 before her next shower

    > I'm not on your property, right? Now what if I
    > dropped my binocs over your fence and climbed it to retrieve it?
    Then I'd tell you to get off my property, tresspasser.

    I might call the police, too. Let's say that you were standing on
    stilts outside my fence. What I would NOT do is whack you over the head
    from behind so that you fell over my fenceinto my yard, and hold you
    under armed guard for an indeterminate period of time until you
    apoligized for falling into my yard.

    If what we were doing was illegal, what China should have done is
    complain to the UN. It was not illegal, so they have no reason to
    complain. They need to suck it up and apoligize for whacking us over
    the head from behind.

  • Give me a break!

    Katz' article is a troll.

    My post should be modded "YHBT YHL"
  • 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
  • I'm sure those people were on the payroll of the NSA, but they are in the military and that's the rules everyone agreed

    Why would they be on the payroll of the NSA? They're already paid by the military -- do you really think the US payroll is so bloated we'll voluntarily pay people twice for the same job? These are just pilots and techs, not cryptographers...

  • Umm, china would completely turn the US into a pile of jell-o almost instantly. in a ground war, they can just give the army hammers and they would wipe out our army in a second or two.

    I hope the average chinese infantryman is a damn good swimmer, 'cause that's a long way to go without a strong navy.

  • we had full radio communication with this plane until after it had landed, and I'm SURE that the pilot would have said something if he had been forced to land

    Yes, but the "we" in that sentence is the US military command, NOT CNN. So even if "we" heard they were shot at, the white house might not be advertising the fact in hopes of avoiding a full-scale war. Once the US personell get home, I'm sure we'll hear many more details that were forgotten for the sake of diplomacy...

  • and the US doesn't?

    not as quickly :)

  • You should read some taiwan news report that it is the trick of US spy plane to turn sharply.

    Is that like the trick where the guy leans his face into someone else's fist?

  • Imagine you're driving down the road and some jerk zooms up behind you. Now if you hit your brakes, you've actually CAUSED the ensuing accident.

    In every state of the USA, the person in back is responsible for keeping a safe distance. In your scenario, would the person in front still "cause" the accident if he hit his brakes because a child was in the road?

  • I spend hundereds a year on my car insurance. And I have never used it. Maybe it's time for a small accident?

    The scary thing is I know people who actually DO that kind of stupid shit! :) "hell, I'm paying for insurance, I might as well leave the doors unlocked in this ghetto and see if I can't get a new car!"

  • My surprise is that a question about China's MFN status hasn't yet come up in the budget negotiations (or have I just not been paying attention). I certainly wouldn't think of them as acting friendly. At least my friends don't act that way.

    Also: yes. I, too, predict that the most powerful nation will switch during the next century. My best estimate for the most likely contender is Japan, followed by Siberia. Then Europe. India is an outside possibility .. but this would be in combination with Bangladesh, Pakistan, and either Thailand or Afganistan. I don't really see China as being plausible. Still, it's hard to argue that they wouldn't (don't), though I rate them behind Brasil in probability.

    But I really feel that this has more to do with internal politics than with anything else. Which doesn't, of course, make it easy to solve.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • d sent back to Russia in pieces two/three weeks later.

    Was this because it was a game they were playing, or simply because nobody knew how to put it back together?

  • One thing no one seems to have mentioned is the black box. Sure the plane didn't crash, but it would have the flight conversations of the pilots. This being the case, surely the tape could be played back to hear the reactions fo the pilots and deduce from that what happened?
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:53AM (#302739) Homepage
    US should at least apologize for not apologizing, "I'm very, very sorry, but we're not apologizing".
  • I've also read speculation that the E3 contained a "magnetic pulse" weapon, which may have been used to "discourage interception" by enemy fighters, and might have been a little TOO effective.

    Yes, yes, and then there's the speculation (obviously not written by a pilot) that the Chinese pilot was attempting to spill fuel onto the EP3, and then set it off with his afterburners.

    Before deciding if you want to give any creedence to speculation, you should ask a couple of questions, first of which would be:

    1) Who would benefit from doing things that way?

    The US wouldn't benefit from shooting down an intercepting Chinese jet unless that jet were going to fire, and if they were going to fire they'd have done so with a missle, not by playing lawn darts with an expensive airplane.

    The odds are that the Chinese jet suddenly going down with complete electrical failure for no discernable reason would result in both an escalation of the crisis in progress, and some very unwanted attention after the fact, especially when the Chinese recovered their black box. If we have such a weapon (and I'm not speculating either way about that) the pilot would have to be a complete idiot to have used it in this situation.

    This is especially ridiculous if you consider all the film of other similar events, which clearly show that the damn Chinese fly within meters of our airplanes every time they pull this crap, which is exactly WHY our pilots leave their planes on autopilot, so that an accidental flinch doesn't result in an international incident.

  • One interesting benefit of working for a government contractor, is I get to work with a lot of people who are much better attuned than I to what's going on in the world. And a lot of them are scared to death about China, not just because of what's going on now.

    Whether or not you agree with either side in this situation, with regards to boundaries, spying, emergency mayday landings, or whatever, it's hard to simply look at China and say "so what."

    The rhetoric that comes out of their country is largely overlooked in the US. Many of their leaders (political, social, military) have spoken openly of their expectations that the US will become a "has been" in the coming century. That China will, essentially, become the dominant force in the world -- economically, politically, socially, and militarily. They see it as their "Manifest Destiny," somewhat like we Americans saw the West as our destiny just over a hundred years ago.

    Add to this mindset the fact that the political leadership took a lot of heat after their response to our accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in the Kosovo conflict, and the fact that Bush took a lot of heat during the Florida election mess, and you've got two very powerful leaders who, honestly, can't afford to look weak.

    Now I can be just a knee-jerk as anyone. I'm amazed that we haven't recalled our ambassadors, declared the crew hostages or prisoners, or tried to push a resolution through the Security Council (which, if I'm not mistaken, would be quickly vetoed by China anyway -- *there* is a useful body). Hell, I'm amazed that we haven't even scaled up our presence in the waters nearby the island. It'd be great, both from a nationalistic and idealistic standpoint, to see a team of marines airdrop on the island, rescue the crew, and airlift the plane out (just try dogging MiGs when you're hanging a spy plane from a heavy-lift helicopter). But what would that really accomplish? We could probably win a War with China. But is it worth trying?

    Bottom line: As much as I want to see these guys released, yesterday, and as much as this posturing seems crazy, remember that we're dealing with a BIG powder-keg here (after all, where was gunpowder even invented?), and the Chinese are more than ready to fight back for what they believe, most likely sincerely, is unfounded US aggression.

    Real bottom line: This scares me. It should scare everyone. The really scary part is that it isn't scaring people as much as it should be.

    (a good reference: China Debates the Future Security Environment [] - US GPO (out of print) -- 600 quotations from various Chinese authors since 1994 -- Defense Dept, National Defense University)

  • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @01:13PM (#302742) Homepage
    Oh, and don't forget the power that the Chinese now have over the AEgis destroyer arms deal with Taiwan

    What, the power to make sure we give Taiwan a 2-for-1 discount?

    If our plane had landed, and they immediately said "here is your crew, here is your plane, aren't we being peaceful neighbors?" it would have gone a long way towards the US being willing to listen about how they wouldn't possibly do anything to Taiwan.

    As it stands, they've only confirmed our worst fears that ehy have no hesitation in escalating what is essentially a non-incident into a full-scale international crisis. There is no way Congress will refuse to sell anything to taiwan now -- and I wouldn't be surprised to see that 2-for-1 coupon in the mail :)

  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:03AM (#302743) Homepage Journal
    ...In his naive and simplistic view of the situation is that China is upset over Gore losing the election. Clinton, etc, were doing everything they could to give China what it wanted (not that administrations prior to his were necessarily much better). They could roll tanks over students with impunity and know that they would retain MFN trading status with the U.S. (after all, the U.S. needs cheap Adam Sandler Underoo's and Barbie Do-It-Yourself Navel Piercing Kits, etc). They could intimidate Taiwan (our sworn ally) by test firing missiles at them and know that at worst there would be a little mumbling and hand-wringing from the U.S. but no real response, since the Clinton administration's position appear to be the Taiwan belongs to China, period.

    So what are they going to do? Make Bush look bad by putting him in a really tough situation and forcing him to either look (and be!) weak, by apologizing for China's incompetent fighter pilot, or looking like a warmonger by refusing to back down to clear aggression and escalating a diplomatic incident. Regardless of what he does, a large portion of the country will criticize Bush, because like Clinton, there is a large portion of the population who hates him irrationally and will never give him credit for anything.

    Remember, the Iranian hostages were also referred to as "detainees" at first.

  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:07AM (#302744)
    I'm very sorry that the state of the world has come to this, but I can't trust anyone enough to base an opinion on any facts presented so far in this incident. This is exactly what the Internet was supposed to SOLVE, but instead has made worse.

    I'm American, and I sympathize with American interests. I think China is very dangerous because of their immense population, their hardline political stances, and their history of human rights violations/suppression. I'm not saying we should get into a war with China, and I'm not saying China should change to adopt our culture. Rather, I'm saying that the current situation demands a VERY delicate manner when dealing with China on foreign relations, because we strongly disagree with them on many things. Now, we've basically handed them 24 American armed forces to use as leverage so that the Chinese government can gain political power. It's as simple as that.

    On the other hand, the U.S. is pretty arrogant, and that clouds the issue entirely. Specifically, we don't know what the government really knows, and we don't know what the media really knows. Since they would have the most reliable sources for the happenings of this incident, we should be able to find out exactly what happened and what needs to be done from them. But we can't trust them, not only to have a realistic opinion on the issue, but also to present the facts in an unbiased and truthful manner. We may very well be entitled to say MORE than sorry.

    My gut instinct says that China is more likely at fault in this particular situation than the US, but the fact that I can't trust the facts means that I can't say that I have an informed opinion. All I know for sure is that the planes actually crashed and that the Americans are being held captive for the time being.

    Now, of course, the Internet was supposed to be able to help us in these cases by being an improved provider of information in a timely, honest manner. But what happened? China filters all of their Internet access, which leads me to believe that there's nothing but propaganda on their side of the network. Over here, the media, rather than wait for news to be accurate and well-developed, chooses instead to report ANYTHING the second it comes in off the news wire. The whole Dale Earndhart tragedy/autopsy situation, the presidential elections, and even the news coverage of the Oscars are perfect examples of that... we're told things in stages as they come in. But almost none of it is verified as much as it is rushed out the door, making basically every media outlet another Matt Drudge. Plus, it's like having a scrap of the newspaper delivered every five minutes as it's progressively typed. But more importantly, it's starting to have a reputation for being unreliable... not to mention biased (read some news stories about Napster and ecstacy on Yahoo! to see what kind of one-sided treatments some of these news stories get sometimes).

    Of course, people have always went for cheap, flashy, and fast in this country. It baffles me that more people eat at McDonalds still than Boston Market, especially considering the price of the meals at both places is somewhat similar. The Internet is no exception... people prefer big dumb web-portals to well-organized useful information sites, even though portals go out of business because they basically don't have much of a business to start with.

    Perhaps if we just bombed all of China to get those pilots back on the first day of this "incident", everyone in the US would be happy and we would have avoided this whole mess. I'm not saying it would have been the proper thing to do (far from it); it just would have kept everyone fat and happy as usual. Bush's popularity would have been way up, just like his father's was after the Gulf War. Lots of cool TV footage of bombs going off, pictures of jet planes taking off, soldiers marching in, blah blah blah. Americans love that shit. They turn out in droves for the war victory parades. They like to see fireworks. It's fucking disgraceful.

    My only hope is that the youth get sick of seeing fireworks at an early age and get bored with it all... and start pursuing more sensible priorities just because they're sick of "TRL" for the millionth time. That would be great.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:34AM (#302745)
    > Everybody stands to gain by lying, and I think it just depends on which soil your feet are planted on right now as to who you believe.

    If, however, we believe the (Chinese-originated?) rumor/story about how the cockpit of the fighter hit the belly of the EP-3, and then fell back while losing control, having his tail sliced up by the props, accounting for the prop and wing damage on the EP-3, I would like to ask the world...

    ...if that's where the fighter was, how on earth could the EP-3 pilots have been expected to know he was there?

    What happened was an accident - there was no intent on either side to cause harm. BUT - if a Porsche sits in the blind spot of a semi trailer for long enough, it'll get squashed when the semi changes lanes. Yeah, that's an accident too. But don't tell me for a minute that the root cause of the accident is anything other "pilot error" on the part of the vehicle - Porsche or J-8 - that chose to situate itself in the blind spot of the larger vehicle.

    Unlike our hypothetical Porsche, in the case of the J-8, (totally speculating here) perhaps he was taking pictures of the various chunks of equipment on the belly of the EP-3, and believed the risk/reward ratio justified the action. Well, he was wrong, and he paid for that mistake with his life, and damn near paid for that mistake with the lives of 24 others.

    Unless and until evidence to the contrary becomes public, I will continue to believe that on the balance of probabilities, the most likely cause of this regrettable incident was poor airmanship on the part of the fighter pilot.

    Although I don't fault the Chinese government for holding the EP-3 and stripping it to the bone - it's a valuable intelligence asset until proven otherwise - I can see no legitimate reason why they continue to hold its crew.

    I find this to be the most disturbing aspect of the controversy. Granted, the crew is a vaulable intelligence asset too, but there's a world of difference between stripping a plane down for parts and interrogating the crew - the Chinese government is smart enough to do the former - but hopefully smart enough not to attempt the latter.

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:10AM (#302746) Homepage Journal

    Some history about George Herbert Walker Bush [], which may shape thoughts about his son, America's current President.

    Bush the First was Envoy to China, doing what he could to avoid UN recognition of an official Peoples Republic of China, counter to Kissinger's willingness to deal with then-600,000 people as one unified-under-Communism sovereign country.

    Bush Number One was the Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He asked Nixon to resign that fateful August, to spare the party a shred of dignity.

    Bush Sr. then moved to Direct the CIA, mopping up the Watergate damage with trinkets, junkets, and some good old-fashioned spy-bustin' [].

    This should give you a clue as to where Bush #2 may be getting his opinions: the family looks out for Republicans First, and thinks China's leadership must be cracked.

    That said, this is the only thing Bush Jr. and this Congress has done so far that I'd agree with. In order of importance: (1) stress the importance of the crewmembers, (2) the Chinese' failure to follow international standards in return of citizens and sovereign vehicles, (3) the fallout this will have on Favored Nations trading status for China. The Congress could still wimp out and give MFN again, but I'm hoping they'll stop kowtowing to the Great Bear here.

  • by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:58AM (#302747)
    The americans decide to teach the fighter pilot a lesson and do a little wing waggle or the like to give him a scare.

    Highly unlikely. The US plane was on autopilot, which means the pilot could not make such a maneuver.
    Lord Nimon

  • by A.Gideon ( 136581 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:04PM (#302748) Homepage
    I'm a private pilot; not military.

    But by FAA rules, size of aircraft is not a factor in determining right of way. For fixed wing aircraft with neither under distress, the vehicles are considered equivilent (there are distinctions drawn, but only when adding airships, gliders, etc. to the equation).

    For a situation where one aircraft is overtaking another, the vehicle being overtaken has the right of way. But one could use this to draw stupid scenarios. For example, the chinese fighter could move ahead of the P-3, and then decelerate. In that case, it would be the responsibility of the P-3 to avoid the fighter (by passing to the right, if we're going to stay pedantic {8^).

    See FAR 91.113.

    But this is really silly. A few months ago, I was on a collision course with another aircraft. I had the right of way. But he wasn't moving (likely hadn't noticed me).

    I avoided him.

    I'd rather that than argue ROW rules to death.

    Of course, the Chinese pilot was already violating FAA rules. Specifically, 91.111.b states that formation flying requires arrangement with each of the involved pilots.
  • by bellings ( 137948 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:24AM (#302749)
    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?

    No-one gives a fuck if we Americans say "Oops! Sorry we hit your plane! We'll try to avoid crashing our $50,000,000.00 planes into your $17,000,000.00 planes in the future!".

    The "apology" that the Chinese are looking for is something along the lines of "Oops! We're sorry we routinely eavesdropping on all of your electronic communications, and send a huge stream of data back to the NSA for analysis! We'll stop doing that!". Good or bad, I can't imagine the United States making an apology of this nature. It's simply never going to happen.

    Remember, the people who are pumping us full of the "China wants us to apologize for hitting the plane" bullshit were the same ones who were pumping us full of the "the votes have already been counted and recounted time and time again" bullshit five months ago.
  • by startled ( 144833 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:17AM (#302750)
    This troll should never have been moderated so high, clearly slashdot is still highly american biased. None the less...

    It's a joke, goddammit. It's Dr. Fucking Strangelove, ported to a new decade. The real problem isn't "American bias", it's ultrasensitive kneejerk-posters like you who are so concerned that someone might be serious about a point of view different from yours, that you don't even bother to read the entire post.

    For all your "objectivity", you seem so hell-bent on fixing Americans' view of themselves that you're living in a completely distorted reality-- one in which the original post was alive during the war of 1812. Wow.
  • I am getting really angered at the American peoples overriding desire to support everyone in the world. If you are so damn supportive of the Chinese you should move your butts over there and start working in thier factories. 14 hours a day for a few bowls of rice will teach you how bad you had it living in the terrible United States of American.

    Make no mistake: Its like this in China *BECAUSE* you live so well in the states. Do you think people are lying when they tell you about how absurd American Consumer culture appears to the rest of the world? how about pollution - do you think its a lie that America is the main offender when it comes to the items the Kyoto Protocol is trying to address? Do you think the rest of the world feels you are imperialist warmongers - but we are *all* wrong about it?

    Make no mistake friend, America is enjoying a good position in history at this moment, but they are by no means a testament to 'good decisions' or a model of a 'good culture'. Raping the planet, using your military to defend business interests, meddling in foreign affairs coupled with the good fortune of never having a war on your own soil - this soulnessness and ruthlessness is what put your culture at the top of the 'wealth' pile... nothing more. But I believe the latter cause would teach US citizens a great deal about where their priorities should be. You'd be surprised I bet about how adamant the citizens of the country would be about universal health care, social programs and environmental/social issues if their little 'pop culture utopia' were ever destroyed by a war on US soil. USian frivolity and hubris is beyond ridiculous approaching the surreal.

    US of America would be well served to find some Tolerance, Understanding and Community - when you look at your culture's 'wealth' you may be surprised to find it is actually the most bankrupt in the things that matter. The rest of the world has some very different priorities than to slave to make a few people rich (as USians seem to do) - maybe this is why the rest of us dont have as many material good - ever think that you dont need all that crap to be happy?

    The only problem is that USian greed has reached the point where they must infect the rest of the planet to continue to grow/exploit - and rest assured, the *REST* of the planet has *VERY* different ideas about how the world should be run... and many USians are even beginning to agree.

  • by syrupMatt ( 248267 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:46AM (#302752) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • by RoninAdmin ( 322783 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:15AM (#302753)
    Same thing for boats as well as airplanes: Big vehicle has the right of way. Period. Secondly, the average cruising speed of a MiG-21 is around 800 miles an hour, compared to the 348 MPH of the P-3 Orion based craft. WTF were they doing sooo close? Furthermore, what is this "violation of international law" that the Chinese officials keep yapping about? Other than "right of way" in international airspace, what about the "Vienna Convention on Consular Relations" (to lazy to imbed link) which I do beleive gives US the right to visit detained miltary personel.
  • by peacedove ( 325427 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:42AM (#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.
  • by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:38AM (#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.
  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @05:20PM (#302756)
    Xinhua News Service [] has the official ChiCom party line on this incident and assorted other things. The site reads like an American parody of Communist "journalism". Funny as hell, in a pathetic sort of way, particularly their descriptions of the acrobatic moves our big, slow, prop-driven aircraft can do. Of course, they don't *mention* that they're big, slow, prop-driven aircraft...

    Netcraft says they're running Netscape-Enterprise 4.1 on Solaris, alternating with Apache/1.3.6 on Solaris. So much for Red Flag Linux.

    Anyhow, if you want to know what the Chinese people are being fed, there y'go.
  • by thermo ( 9732 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:34AM (#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.
  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:28AM (#302758) Homepage
    Minor point, we DO NOT know if appologizing will get the solders home. They never said that directly, they just keep asking us for an appology. If they were to say that, it almost becoming kidnapping and extortion, so I doubt that returning the crew home is directly tied with the US admitting false guilt.

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:16AM (#302759)
    Many people are incredulous that such a row is made over a simple apology. I'm incredulous that they could be so clueless.

    An apology in diplomatic matters such as these is the same as pleading guilty to a criminal offense. By apologizing, Bush would be proclaiming to the world that the spy plane should not be there in the first place, that the fighter pilot had the right to be buzzing an American plane in international air-space, and that China would have free go to continue such behavior in the future.

    Yes we want our people back, but they are soldiers. They have sworn an oath to die for their country if called upon. An apology now, even to save their lives, would make it much more dangerous for military personnel patrolling in international waters around our eastern allies. At any point in the future, China, who is reported to have growing international ambitions, could scuttle any of our vessles and just say, "Now apologize."

    Bush hasn't apologized yet. He should not. He should make it clear that the US will not be bullied. He should state the case clearly that the Chinese pilot is at fault here, and make it clear that the US will continue to spy on countries around the world from international waters. He should then demand the return of the crew and reparations for the aircraft, with threats to cut off all diplomatic relations as his club.

    Anything else is giving in to a bully and will only lead to more pain in the future.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:55AM (#302760) Homepage
    You sir, fail to see the issues at hand and at the core of the conflict.

    The peace between China and the US has never been one of mutual friendship; it has always been one of strained political ties in order to reap the economical benefits. Thus, America aided China in becoming more economically stable, and China provided the sweatshops for American industry.

    Something you must understand, Katz (make your time!), is that Communism is the arch enemy of Commercialism, in the eyes of the US and the eyes of China (and other Communist countries). This makes the US the sworn enemy of China. You simply can't keep going around spouting your idealist slashdotist ideals - they're cultish and removed from reality. Please correct this.


  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:08AM (#302761)
    Dear China,

    On behalf of all Americans, let me say that I am sorry.

    I am sorry that we dared to fly a plane in international waters without your permission. We will be sure to check with you next time.

    I am sorry that we were trying to keep an eye on a communist dictatorship who has ICBM's targeted at our cities. I don't know what we were thinking.

    I am also deeply sorry that we crashed into your ran into your little fighter jet with our big, lumbering 4-prop spy plane. I'm sure that the jet pilot had absolutely no chance of getting out of the way, and the accident is entirely our fault.

    Oh yes, and I would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused by the trouble of holding 24 of our people. Please allow us to reimburse you for all the food that these freeloading hostages have been eating at your expense.

    Lastly, let me assure you that the next time we hold a vote over Most Favored Nation status for China, and when we vote about China's admission to the WTO, and when China is considered to host the 2008 Olympics... I sincerely promise you that we will, at that time, say "fuck off and die you damned red commie bastards!"

    I hope this apology makes our feelings clear.

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:34AM (#302762) Journal
    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.

    A few extra items that might be relevant.

    1) In Chinese culture, an apology inclludes the idea that the version of the story told by the other person is the truth. not yours. this can get sticky, because this is not the viewpoint of apology in the west. In the West, the statement of sorrow is very often separated from the investigation of thetruth of the matter
    2)The internal politics of China in this are very important. There has been speculation in the fringe press that this incident was set up by the Chinese Military for their own goals. While this is speculation, if true, this leaves them (the Chines Military) with a win/win situation. If the USA backs down, then they win in the international arena. If the USA does not back down then The Military gets to strengthen their position inside China.

    The road out of this mess would be delicate, and maybe requires some technology, etc. as follows:

    1) A video/computer simulation of the accident, as believed to have happened, showing and highlighting the obvious manueverability (sp?) of the jet vs the prop plane, and the difficulty of controlling the prop plane when the jet wash hits the props. Demonstrate how the jet can throws the prop plane out of control, and what happens when the jet gets too close.
    2)Praise the obvious bravery of the Chinese pilot in the pursuit of patriotism for his homeland. Note that what he probably wanted to do was something that should be reserved for the mosty highly skilled pilots. The Pilot was obviously trying to intimidate the American plane, and throw the American plane out of control.
    3) We can say something like "The american pilot was not skilled enough to keep control of his aircraft when it was upset and disrupted by the suprisingly powerful engines of the Chinese Jets nearby, and we will work on improving the skill of our pilots.

    ecetera. We build up the strength of the Chinese military in the PR lines.

    Of course, if other means are needed, then planning would have to work to take everyone by surprise, instead of giving everyone and their grandmother time to prepare a defense, increasing casualties, etc.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • As usual, in any disagreement there tends to be three sides to the story. In this case, it is the American side, the Chinese side, and the truth. I'm Canadian, and have had enough international experience to know that there is more going on here than the US press is letting on.

    Here is what I see:

    The American plane was flying in an area that the Americans claim is International airspace. The Chinese claim that it was Chinese airspace. The conflict was not about where the plane was, but about who Really owns it.

    The US plane was intercepting electronic communications originating in China, i.e. spying.

    The chinese know damn well what they are doing, and don't like it, but the americans are sufficiently outside the recognized territory, that they can't do much other than make sure the american know that they know.....

    The Chinese pilots shadowing the E3 were hotdogging, as fighter pilots are prone to do.

    The americans decide to teach the fighter pilot a lesson and do a little wing waggle or the like to give him a scare. Nobody here has ever had the temptation to pull on their car's emergency brake while some idiot is tailgating, right?

    The American public, due to cultural reasons and media induced propaganda won't stand for an apology, as it was obviously solely the responsibility of the Chinese pilot. I have heard no mention of the acceptability of the spying mission.

    The Chinese public, due to cultural reasons and government induced propaganda won't accept anything less than a full apology. They hold the cards, they can push a little.

    Both sides have a tremendous amount to lose by pushing this too far. It appears to me that it is stretching the governments control on the whole issue now that the population and media is getting pretty worked up. So far the American government has been trying not to inflame public opinion, which they could easily do. The Chinese government is doing their best to inflame public opinion (or so we are led to believe).

    My guess is that the Fighter jock was trying to scare the bejesus out of the americans, and the americans reacted somewhat predictably.

    I expect to see the Americans move closer to the apology that the Chinese want, get the crew and plane back, then launch a full fledged propaganda war, still being carefull not to damage trade too much.

    An interesting situation to follow, but lets try not to get too worked up about it. Wars have started over less, and we don't need any more of those!


  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:00AM (#302764) Homepage
    was Wang. does anyone else find this funny??
    If someone shot down my wang, I'd want an apology too.

  • by portforward ( 313061 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:32AM (#302765)

    To the great and all wise leaders of the People's Republic of China. My country, The United States of America, has done you a great harm. Since my foolish leaders have not apologized for the latest airplane incident, let me do it on behalf of the American People . . .

    I'm sorry that no other country in the world recognizes that as China airspace.

    I'm sorry that this particular pilot flew so close on previous occasions that our pilots could get his email address.

    I'm sorry that you took no corrective action when we complained about this pilot before.

    I'm sorry that you think that a turbo prop plane the size of a 737 can hit a fast, highly manueverable MIG fighter on purpose.

    I'm sorry that you think that the US can give an apology without an inquiry first, by fully debriefing the crew or reading the flight recorders (black boxes) to gain an accurate picture as to what has happened.

    I'm sorry that your air traffic controllers ignored the pilot calling "mayday - mayday".

    I'm sorry that you are holding 24 Americans as hostage, and have violated american sovereign territory by boarding our plane.


    I'm sorry that you have killed millions of your own people in your cultural revolution and great leaps forward.

    I'm sorry that you persecute religious minorities such as the Fulan Gong, Christians and Muslims.

    I'm sorry that you feel you can impose your will on the people of Tibet and Taiwan.

    I'm sorry that you regularly detain scholars who disagree with your policies.

    I'm sorry that you use prison labor and export those products to my country.

    Please note our sincere regrets and we humbly await your gracious forgiveness.

  • Make no mistake: Its like this in China *BECAUSE* you live so well in the states.

    Balderdash -- it's like that in China because of the Chinese, not Americans. Bob and Martha aren't forcing the Chinese to use slave labor, but they'll take advantage of it if the Chinese make it available. As will the Russians, the Vietnamese, the Japanese, even the Kenyans.

    You don't like the American consumer culture -- that's fine. In fact, I'll join you in casting dispersions on it. However, I will not allow you to make distortions of the truth.

    Raping the planet, using your military to defend business interests, meddling in foreign affairs coupled with the good fortune of never having a war on your own soil.

    Unmitigated nonsense -- "raping the planet" is a nice phrase, but not true. Americans make a mess, sure -- and we're the only country to clean up after ourselves. If you don't believe me, go eat some Cherynobyl vegetables or take a nice long drink out of the Volga.

    Using the military to defend business -- this beats hell out of using the military to keep you and your cronies in gold lame' PJs (a la Danny Ortega).

    And we had a pretty damn bad war on our soil -- the Civil War killed more Americans than any other war.

    The only problem is that USian greed has reached the point where they must infect the rest of the planet to continue to grow/exploit - and rest assured, the *REST* of the planet has *VERY* different ideas about how the world should be run... and many USians are even beginning to agree.

    Yep -- there's always one fox who thinks they should stop burrowing because it makes life so hard for the hounds.

    The *REST* of the planet is trying their damndest to get Madonna and McDonalds in their countries as fast as they can. The LEADERS in other countries have a ton of ideas about how the world should be run -- all of them bad. American doesn't want to rule the world, they just want to have a good time on Saturday night.

    Which is better -- people who just want to have their Big Macs and Budweisers, or people who want to control the lives of every other person in the world for an idealized goal only definable by a handful of people? Your answer will define you better than anything else.
    "Beware by whom you are called sane."

  • The American reluctance to apologize for this incident isn't just stubbornness. There are real diplomatic reasons not to apologize here.

    First and foremost is China's imperialistic stance toward the China sea. We claim the aircraft was in international airspace, but China claims it was in their airspace. The reason we disagree is because China claims the Paracel islands, which would increase their airspacea good 500 miles into the China sea. No other country in the world recognizes China's claim to those islands, and Vietnam and Indonesia also claim them. If we were to apologize, the US would be officially recognizing China's claim to these islands.

    There is also the matter of blame for the accident, which in diplomatic circles carries real responsibility. The US could be forced to pay reparations for the fighter plane and the missing pilot if we apologize, regardless of whether or not we caused the incident. Failure to do so will harm the US's status at the UN, and further cement China's claim on the China sea.

    This incident was an accident, and we should not apologize.
  • by mperrin ( 41687 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:09AM (#302768) Homepage
    I agree with you that China's power is only likely to continue to grow. However, there's no way I can welcome them.

    Go do a Google search on China and human rights abuses []. Or go read the State Department's report [] on human rights violations.Go read about how they've jailed four university professors [] in the past three months, including three with US citizenship or residency, for no crime greater than spreading ideas against the state. They also jailed for a month the husband and 5 year old son of one of the academics, failing to inform the US that they had done so, even though both of these people are US Citizens! (This is a major violation of international law.)

    Read about how they brutally suppress religions, including everything from Falun Gong [] to Christianity. Read about what they've done in Tibet []. Not expansionist? Read about how they backed the establishments of Communist governments in Korea and Vietnam, and how they want to take back Taiwan after 50 years of independence.

    Read about the silencing of free speach in Hong Kong [], the crushing of student demonstrators in Tienanmen square [], the censorship of the Internet [] throughout China, the control and manipulation of public opinion through their state news agencies.

    Go read all that, and then tell me that you welcome China.

  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:05AM (#302769) Journal
    What would the USA do if the chinese kept flying planes up the cost of California

    The Soviet Union used to do that frequently. Their aircraft would be met by US fighters, which would get close enough to take pictures, and would "escort" them all the way down the coast. But there were never any collisions. The US understood that a collision would be a Bad Thing in terms of international diplomacy. The US rarely, if ever, complained when the USSR shot down military (as opposed to KAL 007) aircraft that penetrated Soviet airspace.

    As a side note. KAL 007 was a Korean Air Lines 747 passenger jet that penetrated Soviet airspace accidently and was shot down. It is interesting to note that its course matched what a recon penetration would look like, and a 747 on radar looks just like an E-2 (military 707). That said, the Soviet pilots got a visual ID before they fired, so they knew it was a civilian aircraft.

  • by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:53AM (#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.
  • by deefer ( 82630 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:41AM (#302771) Homepage
    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.

  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:23AM (#302772) Homepage

    You're right, and that is exactly the problem. I think Katz has hit on something here, but you have to understand the history and culture of both countries to really grasp it. This situation was most likely not the fault of the US, and we would NEVER apologise for something that was not our fault. As Katz says, Bush would be eaten alive by congress and the electorate. We have a culture that does like to aplologise, but hates and loathes to apologise for something it doesn't believe it did. You might convince Bush to say he was sorry if he thought it was our fault, but he doesn't and isn't likely to be convinced (for once I agree with him).

    China has a very different culture. As far as the the Chinese Gov't is concerned, bad things are NEVER the fault of the the Chinese gov't. When Governments are to blame for bad things, the mandate of Heaven that allows them to rule is in jeapardy, and that is very serious. China will insist on an apology. They could find a black box from the Chinese plane in which the pilot says "Damn, how foolish of me. I have run into a defenseless plane over international waters, because of a boneheaded manuver on my part. This entire incident is my fault and I must die now as my plane hits the water." and the Chinese would still demand an apology. They have to... to do otherwise shows unconciousable weakness, and admit fault (which is of course impossible.) It is also typical of Chinese culture for the weakest party in any confillct to apologise for it, again, regaudles of fault. This means that in addition to admitting to making mistakes (impossible), the Chinese gov't would also have to admit that they are the weaker party (never going to happen).

    In short, what we have here is a US gov't that cannot apologise (it doesn't need an apology from the Chinese, it's willing to deal with a "no fault" situation), and a Chinese gov't that HAS to have an apology (a determination of fault being needed for the Chinese to show their relative strength, and to prove that they AREN'T at fault). This immpass would be relativly trival of course, if their weren't a US aircrew stuck in China waiting for a resolution. That's what this article is about... Cultural norms getting in the way of practicle resoltion. China is risking it's increasing standing in the international community by insisting on an apology it probably has not right to. Why? cultural norms insist on it. The US is risking the lives of its service members instead of just mealey mouthing a quick "I'm sorry" it doesn't really mean. Why? Cultural norms. Ironically, though I see this, I still agree with the US position. Why? Because I am affected by the same cultural norms. Until someone bends (or the aircrew croaks which will cause a whole new set of issues), this situation will continue.

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:44AM (#302773)
    The tables were turned once. Here is what happened:

    During the cold war, a Soviet spy plane (spying on America from International waters) had to make an emergency landing in Alaska.

    How did we handle this? Did we snoop around in the plane? Detain the pilots as hostages? Demand an apology from the Russians?

    No. We refueled their plane and sent them on their way.

    I think that answers your question.

  • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @07:39AM (#302774) Journal
    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.

  • by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair AT NOwcmifm DOT comSPAM> on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:16AM (#302775) Homepage
    I don't think Mr. Katz has a full understanding of the facts.

    1. This incident occured over 60 MILES from Chinese territory. The international boundry by treaty is only 12 miles out from shore! So the US plane was clearly in international airspace, where it had every right to be.

    2. Trying to hit a fighter jet capable of Mach 2 flight with a lumbering DC-3 like prop plane (planes like the "spyplane" were used for NY to DC air service back in the 1950's!) is rather like trying to deliberately hit a speedboat with a sailboat. It just doesn't happen, unless the pilot of the jet plane either did something foolish (which Wang Wei, the pilot in question, has a documented history of being a hot dog) or else the pilot of the jet was in such a position that the prop plane pilot could not see him or detect his location.

    The very fact that this incident occured SOLELY because of the interference with the US plane by Chinese jet planes, in international territory, would lead any logical peson to the conclusion that the fault must certainly rest with the Chinese.

    Just as in the laws of sea navigation, it is incumbent on a powered craft to steer clear of a sailing craft, jets have to avoid prop planes that are nowhere as fast or manuverable.

    3. International law and treaty (which China is a party to) hold that ALL nations have an obligation to give safe harbor and lend assistance to a disabled aircraft. Back in the 1980's, a Soviet spy plane had trouble and was allowed to land in Alaska. After it was repaired, the crew was allowed to leave, completely unmollested.

    4. China is, without any legal, ethical, or moral cause, holding 24 American servicepeople hostage, according to ANY treaty that has ever been ratified by both the US and China.

    China is messing with forces that it does not understand, being that their government is incestuous, closed, autocratic in nature. They are lucky that our govenrment so far has been VERY leniant and been going out of it's way to inflame the wrath of the American people.

    However, if China does not release the hostages soon, this will change, and leave the control of our own government. And China needs our markets to sell their goods to far more than we need to allow our wonderful and patriotic corporations the bility to export factories and jobs to their slave labor market.

    Americans react poorly to Americans being held hostage. As well we should.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine