Tang Jiaxuan
Foreign Minister
The People’s Republic of China

Dear Mr. Tang,

On behalf of the United States Government, I want to express my gratitude for allowing our inspection of the EP-3 Navy patrol aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing on the island of Hainan. It is our deepest hope that our two nations will not allow this unfortunate incident to interfere with the important economic relations that hold such promise for a prosperous future.

However, I must take exception to certain actions of Chinese personnel who boarded the EP-3—which our government considers to be sovereign territory—while the aircraft was in your possession. Close examination of the aircraft has revealed clear violations of the equipment and confidential data within the aircraft, which is protected by international law. Some of it appears to fall into the category of outright sabotage.

Among the violations discovered so far:

  1. The musical compact disc (CD) collection under the workstation of Senior Airman Curtis Towne had clearly been disturbed. There are several pieces of evidence bearing this out:
    • The CDs by Metallica (“Load”) and Bad Company (“Running With the Pack”) were not placed in their respective cases but left unprotected on top of Lt. Towne’s monitor.
    • Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” had been incorrectly filed in the section delineated for singer/songwriters.
    • Two CDs by the Woo Tan Klan (“Wu-Tang Forever” and “Enter the Wu-Tang”) are missing.
  2. Computer records show that the half-finished novel on Lt. Tierney’s hard drive had been opened and examined. Regarding the unsolicited comments inserted at the end of the document: It is not your nation’s prerogative to judge whether a creative work-in-progress is “overly derivative.”
  3. A personal photograph of Lt. John Comerford’s wife was defaced with graffiti making a crude reference to U.S. scientist Wen Ho Lee’s “having been” to a site on the photograph. Mrs. Comerford’s current grave illness makes this act especially outrageous.
  4. The messages in the fortune cookies left on Lt. Robert Harper’s seat are not appreciated. I won’t go any further on that subject except to point out that Mannix is a fictional television character, not a real person.
  5. More than 16 minutes of audiotape containing irreplaceable surveillance data was recorded over with what seemsto be several persons making oral sounds that resemble machine guns, exploding bombs and human flatulence. Analysis of the sounds (and accompanying snickering) allowed U.S. linguists to establish that the persons on the audiotape were raised somewhere in the province of Hunan in your nation.
  6. Electronic analysis by U.S. military technicians revealed that three VHS videotapes aboard the EP-3 plane (“Red Dawn”; “ET—The Extra-Terrestrial”; and “The Thin Red Line”) were duplicated while the Chinese government had control of the aircraft. This is a flagrant violation of international copyright laws.
  7. Two bathroom commodes were apparently used and not flushed.
  8. The seat of Lt. Patrick Honeck in the cockpit had been adjusted to accommodate a much smaller person and not returned to its original position.
    I don’t feel the need to remind you that the United States is not a collection of drunk, unarmed students celebrating in the middle of a public square. In addition to its formidable military strength, the U.S. exports a staggering amount of filmed entertainment, popular music, computer technology and tobacco. In the future, violations like the ones listed above will be met with swift, merciless tariffs.

For a nation thought to be 4,000 years old, it is unfortunate that yours feels the need to act like one so immature. On behalf of the U.S., let me say we are truly shenbiao qianyi this is the case.


Joseph W. Prueher
United States Ambassador to China