Yinhe incident shows US in a bad light

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 September, 1993, 12:00am

EVEN though America failed to find any banned chemicals needed for making mustard gas and nerve agents on board the Chinese freighter Yinhe, the US State Department spokesman Michael McCurry only regarded the incident as ''unfortunate,'' and declined Chinese demands for a formal apology and for a compensation of US$13 million (HK$101 million) in damages from Washington.

Once again, America and its spy services were mightily embarrassed before the nations for erroneous and misleading intelligence, not too long after American Rangers stormed the UN headquarters in Somalia by mistake, what they thought to be the sanctuaryof General Mohammed Farreh Aideed, and arrested a handful of innocent UN workers. The authenticity and reliability of once-the-most-credible intelligence services of the world's only superpower are now at stake.

The worst came to the worst, when some American officials tried to defend themselves by speculating that China might have eithe r off-loaded the banned chemicals at a previous port or dumped them into the sea before arriving at Saudi Arabian port of Damman for inspection.

Without being able to provide any evidence to support their statement, this unfounded allegation further reaffirmed the powerlessness of the US spy satellites and the US navy, which had Yinhe under close surveillance all the way.

As US President Bill Clinton thinks, trouble starts with poor communication. The Yinhe issue eligibly illustrates how the communication of ungrounded information from the US intelligence services to the US administration can bring disgrace to America.

This ''unfortunate'' incident, as America put it, apparently exhibited the awkwardness and inexperience of the Clinton administration in handling complicated international issues, when the President, a novice in foreign affairs, rushed brashly to prove his strength in foreign diplomacy.

America not only refused to apologise and compensate, but also claimed it would perform the same probes in the future when similar situations might occur, even at the expense of violating international laws regarding freedom of navigation in international waters.

This was a naked display of American barbarism and hegemonism.

There is an old Chinese saying: ''Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you.'' How will America feel and react, if China announces that it has received intelligence about a certain US ship secretly trafficking nuclear weapons to Taiwan, and demands scrutiny of the same kind? LI, WAI-HUNG STEPHEN Hong Kong