The World has Changed

In the spring of 1999 I was teaching 54 Chinese graduate students at the Peking University business school in Beijing. Against the background of the NATO bombing of Serbia, on Friday May 7 a NATO aircraft bombed and destroyed the Chinese consulate in Belgrade, killing three Chinese nationals. The Chinese suspected the bombing was deliberate, and immediately complained strongly to the United States. My next class fell in the morning of the following day. Only a handful of students showed up. The rest were demonstrating outside the United States Embassy in Beijing. They stayed there for nearly a week, hurling stones through the Embassy windows, while the Ambassador James Sasser sat inside.

It now seems highly likely that the NATO bombing of the Chinese consulate was deliberate, and it appears that NATO felt itself not only justified but safe in taking a highly aggressive action against Chinese interests, extending even to loss of Chinese life. In October 1999 a report in a British newspaper1 confirmed that NATO had deliberately bombed the Chinese consulate in Belgrade, after discovering that the building was being used to rebroadcast Serbian army communications. According to senior military and intelligence sources in Europe and the United States, the Chinese embassy was removed from a list of prohibited targets after NATO electronic intelligence detected the emanation from the embassy of military messages to Milosevic’s forces. The story at the time, ...

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