Deal struck after 11 days of trans-Pacific haggling
April 1: A US EP-3E Aries II navy patrol aircraft on a 'routine surveillance' mission over the South China Sea is involved in a mid-air collision with a Chinese F-8 fighter. The US plane makes an emergency landing on Hainan Island without permission. China and the United States blame the incident on each other.
April 2: President George W. Bush demands access to the detained crew and the plane's return 'without any further tampering' and says he is 'troubled' by the Chinese Government's inaction. China shows no interest in US offer to help search for its jet and missing pilot.
April 3: US Ambassador to China Joseph Prueher says the Chinese have been 'all over' the top-secret plane. US diplomats obtain first direct contact with the crew and find the 21 men and three women in good health. President Jiang Zemin says the US must 'bear full responsibility', asks for an apology and calls on Mr Bush to halt all spy flights near China's coast. US Secretary of State Colin Powell says Washington has 'nothing to apologise for' and refers to the crew as 'detained'. Mr Bush says the accident has 'the potential of undermining our hopes for a fruitful and productive relationship'.
April 4: Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan berates the US for 'arrogance' and 'repeated errors'. US defence officials say the crew destroyed all sensitive data before the Chinese boarded the plane. Mr Jiang repeats calls for an American apology. Mr Powell expresses regret over the loss of the Chinese pilot, reinforcing the gesture with a letter.
April 5: The Chinese Foreign Ministry says US regrets are 'a step in the right direction' but repeats demands for full apology. Mr Bush expresses regret for the loss of the Chinese pilot and says he does not want the dispute to destabilise Sino-US relations. Mr Jiang, in Chile, says China and the United States should give top priority to bilateral relations in resolving the dispute.
April 6: China welcomes Mr Bush's expression of regret but holds out for a full US apology. US diplomats meet plane's crew for a second time. Mr Bush says both sides are 'making progress'. Republican Senator John Warner says the two sides are working on a written agreement.
April 7: US officials visit detained crew for a third time and say they are being treated well. Top Republican lawmaker Henry Hyde calls the crew 'hostages'.
April 8: The US warns long-term relations are at risk; Vice-President Dick Cheney insists Washington will not apologise.
April 9: US diplomats make a fourth visit to the crew, saying they are in excellent health. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao says Beijing is far from satisfied with Washington's comments so far.
April 10: China says use of word 'sorry' by Mr Powell over the missing pilot is a step towards a resolution. The Post quotes diplomatic sources as saying a deal is near.
April 11: China and the US reach a deal.