The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 13, 2001 · Page 5
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 5

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Friday, April 13, 2001
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THE SALINA JOURNAL U.S.-CHII\IA FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2001 AS T ASIAN CUSTOMS Apologies come at a price Chinese hate to say 'I'm sorry,' will pay to have it done for them By ELAINE KURTENBACH Tlie Associated Press BEIJING — Sorry can be the hardest word to say. Or the easiest. China's leaders extracted what they trumpeted as a U.S. apology in a spy plane incident, but almost never admit their own errors. Ordinary Chinese, by contrast, consider some apologies so traumatic or risky that they hire professionals to make them. "We have more and more customers. We're very busy every day," said Zhan Qi, an employee of the Tianjin Apology and Gift Center. The center was set up a year ago by a neighborhood government in the eastern city of Tianjin 60 miles south of Bei• SPY PLANE INCIDENT jing. For a fee, the service will say it with flowers, gifts or whatever it takes. "Our clients are people who want to apologize but decide not to do so themselves," said Zhan. "They worry they might lose face or cause further misunderstandings." Other Asians offer dozens of apologies a day that range from brisk ritual to weighty obligation. Japanese executives offer abject apologies for accident deaths, financial losses and other failings, weeping freely for the news cameras. Politicians artfully evade blame by apologizing profusely not for a blunder but for the inconvenience it caused. "This is not a real apology but is to survive the current sit' uation somehow and to prolong one's political life," said Nobuo Tomita, professor emeritus at Meiji University in Tokyo. Koreans, as well as Japanese, say "sorry" even when they're not at fault. Koreans consider it rude not to offer a nominal apology in a minor dispute like a traffic accident, though they might not accept blame. Koreans caught violating copyrights often agree to publish a "statement of apology" in a newspaper to avoid a lawsuit. Such admissions of guilt are considered a humiliating disgrace. Taiwan is a hybrid of traditional Chinese apology culture and a democratic society where politicians caught in scandal have to appease angry voters. Hours after Lo Fu-chu punched fellow lawmaker Diane Lee this month, he apologized on television to "all the women in the nation." In China, a widespread desire to avoid the shame and trouble of apologizing for business failings, romantic disasters and personal slights has created a promising business opportunity "Many people are willing to pay a little money, for example 100 yuan ($12) to have someone else apologize for them," said Qin Keyi, founder of the Chinese Ivy Apology and Appreciation Service in the southern province of Guangdong. But the communist political classes can go years between admissions of error The government goes to great lengths to depict its leaders as infallible. Beijing has never acknowledged millions of deaths in political upheavals or a 1960 famine that killed as many as 30 million people. That made it all the more extraordinary when Premier Zhu Rongji apologized on national television last month for an explosion at a schoolhouse that killed dozens of children. Zhu said the Cabinet had erred by failing to prevent such disasters. Vignery / Kansan set free FROM PAGE A1 Crew disputes China's account With detained crew on U.S. soil, Bush criticizes Chinese By BARRY SCHWEID The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Navy crew members returning Thursday from 11 days of detention disputed China's account of the collision that brought down their surveillance plane, saying a Chinese pilot was at fault. President Bush said "tough questions" would be put to China at an inquiry next week. His tone stern. Bush said at the White House, "The kind of incident we have just been through does not advance a constructive relationship between our countries." With clearly different emotions. Bush also spoke by telephone to Lt. Shane Osborn, the mission commander. The rest of the crew listened to the conversation on a speakerphone. "Y'all there?" Bush asked. "We're all here, sir. Thank you for getting us here," Osborn replied. "Welcome home. We appreciate you. You did your duty. You represent the best of America," the president said. "As an old F-102 pilot, let me tell you, Shane, you did a heckuva job bringing that aircraft down. You made your country proud." Through most of the protracted negotiations that freed the crew but not their aircraft, Bush had approached Beijing with diplomatic care, insisting the surveillance was legal but also approving expressions of sorrow the Chinese pilot was lost and the American plane did not seek approval for its emergency landing after the April 1 collision. But after crew members told debriefers they were on a "fixed course" and had not swerved into the Chinese jet fighter, as Beijing contended. Bush stood in the Rose Garden and let loose. He castigated not only the detention of the 21 men and three women, but also China's record on human rights, religious freedom and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. "The United States and China will no doubt again face difficult issues and fundamental disagreements. We disagree on important, basic issues," he said. Referring to a scheduled joint meeting Wednesday on the collision, the disposition of the Navy plane and related issues, Bush said: "I will ask our United States representative to ask the tough questions about China's recent practice of challenging United States aircraft operating legally in international airspace." Reconnaissance flights, he said, "are a part of a comprehensive national security strategy that helps maintain peace and stability in our world." Spy plane / Landing it was difficult Ron Vignery said his son and the rest of the crew are not allowed to reveal specifics about their stay in China or of the emergency landing, which military officials have lauded as exceptional. The crew members first must be debriefed in Hawaii, where they're now staying, and again on Whidbey Island in Washington, their home base. Thursday, the Vignery family was making arrangements to meet Lt. j.g. Jeff Vignery Saturday in Washington. Ron Vignery said he has been told the crew members will have 30 days of leave, but he didn't know when his son might return to his hometown, which is planning a celebration for his return. With only information from the Chinese media available to him, Jeff Vignery was oblivious to the outpouring of support people in Goodland and the rest of the country were showing for the crew, Ron Vignery said. "I filled him in on the support they had received, and he was pleased with that," Ron Vignery said. Though Jeff Vignery was not able to give details of his stay in China, his father told reporters Jeff did not complain during their 45-minute conversation. "He was very calm and collected and wasn't frazzled," Ron Vignery said. "He sounded just like Jeff, but tired." FREE Roth IRA Information WADDELL Ron Vignery said he might have talked longer with his son Wednesday night had it not been for the shower and buffet line that was awaiting him in Guam. ' U.S. officials have said the Navy EP-3E surveillance plane likely made a landing more harrowing and dangerous than once believed. Again, Jeff Vignery wasn't allowed to give specifics about the landing, but he gave his father some obtuse insight on the landing. "He said, 'We (Navy crew members) each had a guardian angel on our shoulders,' " Ron Vignery said. Even with the endless stream of analysis and updates served up by media during the 11-day affair, - Ron Vignery said he never became accustomed to the fact that his son was involved. "We all sit back and watch international news and developments with some detachment, and then when it involves your son from your hometown, you just shake your head and say this can't be happening to a family .from Goodland," Ron Vignery said. • Reporter Nate Jenkins can be reached at 823-6464, Ext: 139, or by e-mail at sjnjenkins@sal journal.com. FROM PAGE A1 The 21 men and three women are expected to leave Hawaii Saturday morning for their home base on Whidbey Island, Wash. In a telephone call to his mother, Osborn said the crew struggled to land the crippled Navy EP-3E surveillance plane after the collision. "He said it took every bit of strength that he had. All the crew helped," Diane Osborn of Norfolk, Neb., told MSNBC. "He was well-trained by the Navy, and I thank God he gave him the strength to get it down." Pierre Frenay, a pilot on the chartered jet that flew the crew to Guam, told NBC that Osborn reported the crew had considered bailing out of the stricken plane. The Pentagon has said the crew destroyed as much of the top-secret codes and intelligence as they could before the Chinese came aboard. The Chinese fighter jet crashed after the collision, and the pilot has not been found. The spy plane, which used high-tech listening devices to monitor the Chinese military, remains on Hainan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said Beijing holds the United States entirely responsi­ ble for the collision and is keeping the plane for investigation. U.S. and Chinese officials are to meet Wednesday to discuss the plane's fate. America secured the release of the crew only after the U.S. government's official position went from expressions of "regret" to the word "sorry" to "very sorry" for the Chinese pilot's death and for the U.S. plane's landing in China without permission. &rREED^ financial Services* waddell.com Member SIPC Investing. With a plan. Toni Renfro 1.11 N. 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