Members of Congress consider slapping sanctions on China
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Members of Congress on Sunday were considering sanctions against China in response to its detainment of a U.S. military surveillance crew.
Talk of possible sanctions came as the freed crew revealed new details of their collision with a Chinese jet fighter.
The United States and China blame each other for the April 1 collision. Negotiators for each nation are due to meet on Wednesday, probably in Beijing, to determine the fate of the U.S. spy plane still held on China's Hainan Island and to talk about the future of surveillance flights along China's coast.
"I hate on Easter morning to talk about retribution, but there's gonna be retribution," said Sen. Robert Torricelli , D-New Jersey, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Torricelli said the credibility of the United States was at stake.
"Great powers that allow their interests to be compromised with impunity do not remain great powers very long," he said.
Torricelli said President Bush should cancel a planned October trip to China and said Congress ought to reconsider extending China's permanent trade relations status when it comes up for a vote in June.
He and other lawmakers said the standoff -- which ended Thursday with the release of 24 U.S. crew members -- bolstered the argument for selling military equipment to Taiwan, which China opposes.
Speaking on the same program, Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Illinois, said he would probably vote against the trade status bill as long as China continues to hold the Navy EP-3E surveillance plane. The United States has demanded its return and it is likely to be on the agenda at Wednesday's meeting in Beijing.
"It still is our plane," said Hyde, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee. "It's not a trophy for them to confiscate."
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, told "CNN's Late Edition" that he also was considering sanctions against China.
"Well, there are several actions that we can take," Kyl said. "Of course, we have the question of the arms sales to Taiwan that we'll have to deal with next week. We have the question of extending the PNTR, the permanent trade relations with China. We have questions that will define our long-term relationship in terms of the way that we continue to deal with China in its buildup of military arms across the Taiwan Straits."
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also appearing on "Late Edition," indicated that it might be premature to consider China sanctions.
"I would rather keep on approaching it the way the Bush administration approached the whole issue eventually, which was, you know, with calm, with common sense, with reserve," Boxer said. "And I think that is the first thing we need to do before we move forward on anything else."
Crew details ordeal
Meanwhile, crew members, who returned home to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington state on Saturday to a triumphant welcome celebration, began publicly detailing their ordeal for the first time.
Crew member Lt. j.g. Jeffery Vignery told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that while he and his colleagues were detained, Chinese authorities told him they might have to stand trial, based on results of an initial Chinese investigation into the collision. (More on this story)
The aircraft's pilot, Navy Lt. Shane Osborn, who Navy brass said saved the lives of his fellow crew members, offered his view of the collision on Sunday's "CNN's Late Edition."
"The aircraft made two close approaches, (with the pilot) making gestures," Osborn said. "And then, on the third one, his closure rate was too high, and he impacted the number-one propeller, which caused a violent shaking in the aircraft. And then, his nose impacted our nose, and our nose cone flew off, and the airplane immediately snap-rolled to about 130 degrees in low bank and became uncontrollable."
Osborn credited his crew for helping to regain control of the diving and crippled aircraft. He then piloted it to an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island.
China says the U.S. EP-3E surveillance plane veered suddenly and sent its aircraft crashing into the sea.
The EP-3E, U.S. officials said, was on a level and steady flight plan over international waters at the time of the accident.
"It's not very common for a big, slow-moving aircraft to ram into a high-performance jet fighter," Osborn told CNN. "And we definitely made a sharp left turn -- that was called uncontrolled flight -- inverted in a dive after he impacted my propeller and my nose."
Of the detainment, Osborn said he was the only crew member who was isolated from his colleagues and placed in a bedroom alone and awakened in the middle of the night for many interrogations.
"Yes, I was deprived of sleep, especially during the first few days," Osborn said. "However, there was nothing physical, no touching or anything like that."
Wang: 'Revolutionary martyr'
Beijing declared Chinese pilot Wang Wei missing and presumed dead Saturday and proclaimed him a "revolutionary martyr" on Sunday, adding his name to a long list of role models for the communist nation.
"Wang Wei was an example that all Navy officers and soldiers should learn from," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Navy Commander Shi Yunsheng as telling Wang's parents in Beijing.
China's revolutionary martyrs stretch back to underground party activists executed in the 1930s and include three Chinese state journalists killed in NATO's accidental bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in May 1999.
Other recent martyrs include policemen killed in the line of duty and officials assassinated in attacks by ethnic separatists in the restive Muslim province of Xinjiang.
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