- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2002

From combined dispatches
The discovery of spying devices embedded in Chinese President Jiang Zemin's U.S.-made jetliner has not derailed President Bush's planned trip to China next month, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday.
Mr. Powell, asked to comment on reports that some 27 listening devices were discovered in the autumn on the Boeing 767, said he has not had discussions with Chinese counterparts and declined further comment on the "so-called matter."
"We simply don't comment on these sorts of matters. In my discussions with Chinese leaders, this has never been raised," Mr. Powell said on "Fox News Sunday."
"So we're looking forward to that trip, and I don't expect anything to derail that trip," he said, referring to next month's summit between Mr. Bush and Mr. Jiang in Beijing.
The Washington Post on Saturday reported that listening devices, apparently embedded while the plane was being refitted in the United States, were found in the presidential bathroom and the headboard of the presidential bed, among other places.
Separately, London's Financial Times reported the tiny, satellite-operated devices were detected by Chinese officials after the plane emitted a strange static whine during test flights in September, shortly after it was delivered.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" program, said he had no knowledge of spying devices on the Chinese plane.
Asked if he thought the controversy would cause problems for U.S.-China relations, Mr. Rumsfeld replied: "I doubt it. We have two big countries and lots of interests in common, and I suspect that life goes on."
Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, said he had no information on the incident, but that it was "foolish" if intelligence agents indeed embedded permanent listening devices on the airplane.
"We run into trouble when we do that, and it seems to me that it is not wise for us to do that unless they are an enemy. Now that's different. Then you take certain risks you might otherwise [not] take," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
But Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, took a more calculated view of the apparently foiled spy attempt, advocating a "cost-benefit analysis on all of these things."
"We've got to do some kind of aggressive things, and, frankly, our intelligence community I think has not suffered from being overly aggressive the last several years just the contrary," he said.
A Chinese foreign ministry official told Agence France-Presse the ministry did not yet have a response. "We're still trying to contact relevant departments on this matter," she said. "We will notify you when we have a comment."
The story was not carried by any local media.
China has known the jet was bugged since September a month after the aircraft was delivered.
Analysts said they saw the lack of response from Beijing so far as a sign the Chinese leadership wants to downplay the incident.
"The Chinese government has been cautious in handling this problem. It has issued no official protest, no criticism," said Zhu Feng, director of the international securities program of the Peking University School of International Studies.
"I think it is taking into consideration the development in China-U.S. relations."
Although Beijing will want an explanation, it does not want the issue to create new tensions, as bilateral relations have only recently improved from a low point after a U.S. spy-plane collision last year, Mr. Zhu said.
"Both the Chinese government and the U.S. will want to go through diplomatic channels and resolve this quietly."
"Deep down, the Chinese expect this kind of thing to happen," said Joseph Cheng, a political analyst at Hong Kong's City University.
Mr. Cheng said it was also possible the bugging was carried out by factions in the Chinese government hoping to find out Mr. Jiang's plans ahead of the upcoming leadership succession.
The late Chairman Mao Tse-tung was also bugged just before he was to step down at the end of the Cultural Revolution, according to his doctor's memoir.

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