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Spy Plane Standoff
On April 1, 2001, Chinese J-8 fighters intercepted a U.S. Navy VQ1 squadron surveillance aircraft, the EP-3, in the skies over the South China Sea. A mid-air collision involving one of the J-8s and the EP-3 sent the Chinese jet into the ocean and forced the U.S. plane to make an emergency landing in Chinese territory -- the island of Hainan, just off the southern coast of China.

The 24 crew members of the EP-3 were eventually returned to the U.S. after being held on Chinese soil for 11 days, but other issues, including the return of the EP-3 aircraft and whether China is appropriating its technology, turned out to be stickier.

Revisit this incident through the timeline and news articles below, and check the Media Center links to keep abreast of the latest developments involving the U.S. and China. You'll also find more background on U.S.-China relations over the years.


Click on the icon above to get a detailed chronologial overview of events.

Reference Materials

Discussion and Tributes: Official Statements: Military Guides: Photos, Maps and Animations: Government Resources:

The U.S.-China-Taiwan Triangle
The Spratly Islands (South China Sea)