AS SUNDAY. APRIL 15, 2001 CHINA THE SAUNA JOURNAL DOWNED SPY PLANE T MISSING PILOT Who's in charge? China wraps spy plane standoff in mystery Officials spout the party line By The Associated Press BEIJING — Just who is in charge in China? American diplomats wondered as they tried to win the release of the captive crew of a U.S. spy plane. The president? His rivals? The generals? Even after the end of the 11- day standoff and the release of 24 Americans, the answer is still not clear. "It's one of the questions that we're stumbling about a bit trying to clarify," said Jonathan Pollack, a China specialist at the U.S. Naval War College. The confusion itself is a kind of victory for the Chinese communist system, which sees secrecy and intrigue as part of its armor. American officials spent a lot of time trying to figure out the Chinese decision-making process, senior U.S. diplomats say Their only certainty was that the outcome was a high- level consensus. That fits the personal style of President Jiang Zemin. And it shows how much China has changed since the autocratic days of revolutionary leader Mao Tse-tung. Mao created the system and ran it on whim, but Jiang is a creation of that system — a former soap factory manager with no personal authority as a revolutionary or guerrilla veteran. So, in a regime that stiU runs this sprawling country on personal ties, Jiang cobbles together support for any major decision from factions in the military and Communist Party No individual has the sweeping We Need... Clothing • Furniture • Miscellaneous Pick-up's Available SALVmON ARMY THRIFT STORE [MOH. - Sat. 9:00 a.m.-SiOO p.m 157 S. 5th • Sallna 823-1409 powers of Mao or Deng Xiaoping, the late supreme leader who gave Jiang his job in 1989. After the U.S. Navy EP-3E surveillance plane collided with a Chinese jet fighter on the morning of April 1, Ambassador Joseph Prueher spent much of the day trying in vain to contact officials of..' China's defense and foreign ministries, according to U.S. diplomats. They say his first response came nearly 12 hours later, when Prueher was allowed to meet with an assistant foreign minister. The ambassador complained publicly that three days after the incident, Chinese leaders still weren't involved in diplomatic contacts. Pool & Spa SERVICE Missing pilot hailed as national hero; U.S. blasted for comments By The Associated Press BEIJING — China, abandoning its search for a pilot missing since his fighter jet collided with a U.S. spy plane two weeks ago, hailed him as a national hero Saturday and condemned the United States for making "irresponsible comments" about the crash. The search for pilot Wang Wei, who disappeared after his plane plunged into the sea after the April 1 collision, was called off at 6 p.m. Saturday, the state- run Xinhua News Agency re ported. "Analysis of the situation from every angle indicated there was no chance he could have survived," it said. On Saturday, China's navy — which had launched its largest- ever search to find the pilot — formally declared Wang a "revolutionary martyr." State media had been lionizing him as a hero for national defense. Meanwhile, Chinese officials again insisted that the U.S. spy plane caused Wang to crash by veering suddenly toward his fighter jet. "We have enough evidence to prove that it was the U.S. plane that violated flight rules by suddenly veering in a wide angle at the Chinese plane in normal flight, rammed into and damaged it, resulting in the loss of the Chinese pilot," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said in a statement read on state-run television Saturday evening. American officials, in the days since the release of 24 American crew members held following the collision, have said the U.S. aircraft was flying straight and level when it was struck by the Chinese jet. 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