When I was in China last month I was surprised at how angry my Chinese friends were over the Hainan spy plane incident. I was surprised because it was with the Chinese government they were angry, not Washington. In their view the Americans had acted just about as expected. But they felt the Chinese government’s response to the incident was too weak.
They believed that the aircrew, who were clearly spies, should have been treated as such and held until they could be tried under Chinese law. After all, they said, hadn’t the American government held an alleged Chinese spy for several months last year, without charge, before releasing him for lack of evidence? There was no lack of evidence in the Hainan incident. Having failed to ditch their spy plane in international waters, its crew violated Chinese sovereign territory and landed.