News Releases

WASHINGTON, DC - During a meeting today with the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Yang Jiechi, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reiterated her call for the People's Republic of China to immediately return the 24 American service members currently being detained on Hainan Island. The personnel are part of the VQ-1 squadron, stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Murray's home state of Washington.

The meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes, was a frank discussion in which Senator Murray impressed upon the Ambassador her strong belief that the Americans should be returned immediately. The Ambassador told Murray he would deliver her message to government officials in China.

Speaking about the meeting, Murray said:

"I had an open and frank discussion with the Ambassador, and I impressed upon him the importance of returning these American servicemen and women immediately," Murray said. "He pledged that he would convey my concerns 'word for word' to his superiors in China."

Murray has a personal relationship with Ambassador Yang, which began in 1997 while she was on a trade mission to China. While she was there, Murray's father passed away. Mr. Yang, who was serving as the North American attache at the time, paid a personal visit to Senator Murray to express the condolences of the Chinese people.

During today's meeting, Murray offered her regrets for the loss of a Chinese pilot during Sunday's encounter between a Chinese fighter and the American EP-3, and she offered her condolences to the family of the pilot.