Wang Wei (王伟), a Chinese pilot, went missing following a mid-air collision between a US reconnaissance plane and a Chinese fighter jet on April 1, 2001. He was later awarded the title of "guardian of territorial airspace and waters" by the Central Military Commission (CMC). The decree was signed by Jiang Zemin, former chairman of the CMC.
Wang Wei, a lieutenant commander in the Chinese Navy Air Force, was born in Huzhou of Zhejjiang Province in 1968. Wang joined the Navy in 1986 and became a member of the Communist Party of China in 1988. On the morning of April 1, a US EP-3 military surveillance plane flew close to China's airspace and territorial waters southeast of Hainan Island to conduct surveillance. Wang Wei, who was on duty that day, flew his fighter jet under orders to follow and monitor the US plane. The US plane, in violation of aviation rules, rammed and destroyed Wang Wei's plane, causing him to parachute. After the incident, the navy and the civilians made all-out efforts to look for Wang Wei, but in vain.
The CMC's decree says Wang Wei died a hero's death. Wang had aspired to dedicate himself to serve his country since his childhood and he joined the Navy voluntarily after graduating from a secondary school. The decree praises Wang's bravery, courage and resolution in carrying out his mission to track and monitor the US surveillance plane, calling him an outstanding model for the new generation of men and women in the army.
'Good Son of Huzhou People'
Wang Wei was also awarded the title of "Good Son of Huzhou People" by the Huzhou City Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Huzhou city government. People from all walks of life across China showed great concern for and extended greetings to Ruan Guoqin, wife of the missing pilot, and their son. At the request of Huzhou residents, the city government built a bronze statute of Wang Wei to cherish the memory of the missing pilot, who presumed dead.