Somebody cited earlier that a soviet aircraft had to make an emergency landing in American space once. On this note, was the plane forced down? Or did we actually hit that plane with one of our fighter aircraft? Lastly, the plane in question aside from being a surveillance aircraft, was it of superior design than anything that we had at the time? Could we learn anything about the Soviet Union by examining the plane?
Maybe I am making my point the hard way, but I think we can afford to respect the soverignity(sp) of the planes and ships of other countries simply because we will not gain anything for violating their soverignity. I would also like to know what became of the crew of the aircraft, like did they defect to the US when they had the opportunity to do so?
The Chinese, on the other hand, have everything to gain by violating the soverignity of the United States. The aircraft is mechanically superior to anything that the chinese have, nevermind the technical superiority of its cargo. China is growing in many ways, but examination of that aircraft would have only helped China.
On to the op, the reckless chinese pilot was to blame for this incident. His mishandling of the situation caused all of this to happen. It was, however, an accident and not an act of war.
Some other people have mentioned self-destruct charges. I do not think that surveillance aircraft have them. They are dangerous things to just mount on an aircraft and let them stay there in the event of an accident. When they get old, for example, they tend to get very unstable, and there is just too much opportunity for them to be a nuisance than a benefit to the aircraft.
And lastly someone else mentioned that we were spying on china. I am willing to admit that there is a grey area between surveillance and spying, but what were were doing, in this case was the former, and not the latter. Furthermore, chinese military aircraft do observe the actions of other countries, as does every other country in the world. We can take steps to minimize what they see about us, but we cannot stop them from looking. The same rule applies to us.
I am kind-of impressed by the level of professionalism in which the matter was resolved. And sometimes I do salute the efforts of the military intelligence divisions.