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US, China Discuss Maritime Safety in Shanghai - 2002-04-10

The Pentagon says U.S. and Chinese military officials have opened three days of maritime safety talks in Shanghai.

A Pentagon spokesman says the talks that got under way Wednesday are focused on both sea and air safety issues affecting military ships and planes.

The spokesman gives no details. But the discussions in Shanghai are being held under provisions of a 1998 Military Maritime Consultative Agreement. Its goal is to help both sides avoid incidents like last year's collision between a Chinese fighter and a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane on a reconnaissance mission in international airspace off the Chinese coast.

The Chinese fighter crashed and its pilot was killed. The badly-damaged U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, where the crew was temporarily detained.

The American plane itself was eventually dismantled and the parts shipped off the island.

The incident was discussed at a special meeting held last September in Guam under provisions of the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement between the two countries.

The incident led to tensions in relations between the United States and China, which this week lashed out anew at the Bush administration over U.S. military support for Taiwan.

Defense officials have disclosed a Pentagon team will head to Taiwan perhaps as early as next month to discuss options for the island's purchase of diesel-electric submarines.

The United States promised last year to sell Taiwan submarines as part of an arms package designed to bolster the island's defenses.