NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

Infobox civilian attack
title=NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

location=Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia
target=Variously reported as Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement Headquarters or radio transmitters used by Yugoslav Army in the Embassy itself
date=May 7, 1999
type=B-2 Bombing
On May 7 1999 in Operation Allied Force, NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, killing three Chinese citizens and outraging the Chinese public. At the time of the bombing, the embassy was located in Novi Beograd – later, a new site was designated for the embassy in Dedinje. NATO later apologized for the bombing, saying that it occurred because of an outdated map provided by the CIA. Few Chinese accepted this explanation, believing the strike had been deliberate.cite journal
author = Peter Hays Gries
year = 2001
month = July
title = Tears of Rage: Chinese Nationalist Reactions to the Belgrade Embassy Bombing
journal = The China Journal
issue = 46
pages = 25–43
publisher = Contemporary China Center, Australian National University
location = Canberra, Australia
issn = 13249347
oclc = 41170782
url =
language = English

World press reaction covered a wide editorial spectrum. A report by the UK newspapers "The Guardian" and "The Observer", and the Danish newspaper "Politiken" claimed that the strike was intentional. [ [,2763,203214,00.html Nato bombed Chinese deliberately] ] Other sources, notably American media such as Washington Post, New York Times, Chigago Tribune, and The Times maintained that while culpability rested with innacurate strike planning, the attack was not deliberate.cite news
author = Steven Lee Myers
title = Chinese Embassy Bombing: A Wide Net of Blame
url =
publisher = New York Times
location = New York
date = 2000-04-17
accessdate = 2007-12-12
language = English
] It is important to note that media with international readers such as The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France Press (AFP) published numerous reports citing the findings of several European press agencies, which indicated a deliberate attack. The American media, however, has been criticized for ignoring and for devoting very little attention to the incident [cite web |url=|title= Chinese Embassy Bombing--Media Reply, FAIR Responds |accessdate=2008-02-03 |date= 1999-11-03|publisher=Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting ] . CIA director George Tenet said the operation which led to the bombing of the Chinese embassy was the only one organized and directed by his agency.

The three Chinese citizens killed in the attack were Shao Yunhuan (邵云环), Xu Xinghu (许杏虎) and his wife, Zhu Ying (朱颖).

Chinese reaction

The bombing sparked outrage among the public in China and provoked demonstrations outside the United States embassy in Beijing and U.S. consulates in other Chinese cities.

By the end of 1999, relations began to gradually improve. In October 1999, the two sides reached agreement on humanitarian payments for families of those who died and those who were injured as well as payments for damages to respective diplomatic properties in Belgrade and China.

US response

According to the CIA, the headquarters of the Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement (FDSP) - (Yugoimport SDPR) was the intended target but the process to locate the target was severely flawed. The technique to locate the coordinates of the FDSP headquarters from the street address should not have been used for aerial targeting because the method only provides an approximate location. The true location of the FDSP headquarters was about 300 meters away from calculated coordinates (the Chinese embassy). This flaw in the address location process went undetected. A secondary process to determine whether any diplomatic or other facilities off-limits to targeting were nearby was also flawed. Multiple databases within the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense all reflected the Embassy in its pre-1996 location in Belgrade. If the databases had accurately located the Chinese Embassy, the misidentification of the FDSP building would have been recognized and corrected. Three days before the bombing, an intelligence officer realized the FDSP building was a block away from the identified location but this information failed to stop the bombing because of miscommunication. [cite web |url= |title=DCI Statement on the Belgrade Chinese Embassy Bombing House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Open Hearing |accessdate=2006-10-04 |last= Tenet |first= George |authorlink= George Tenet |coauthors= |date=1999-07-22|year= |month= |format=HTML |work= |publisher=Central Intelligence Agency|quote= ]

After the event, former Clinton administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Shirk expressed her belief that the Chinese government used the bombing as a political opportunity. She claims that China refused to accept Bill Clinton's initial phone call to Jiang Zemin to apologize as well as refusing a U.S. envoy and ambassador seeking to convey similar messages. The Chinese Communist Party declared immediately after the bombing through the "People's Daily" and other media that the bombing had been intentional, not accidental, and supplied buses to transport demonstrators to the U.S. embassy and consulates to protest.

Shirk pointed out that the bombing occurred less than a month after a mass demonstration of 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners in Beijing and less than a month before the tenth anniversary of the Tienanmen Square protests of 1989. Shirk claims the bombing was seized upon as an opportunity to direct Chinese anger outward rather than toward the Party.cite web |url=|title= China: Fragile Superpower: How China's Internal Politics Could Derail its Peaceful Rise |accessdate=2007-07-29 |date= 2007-04-05|author= Shirk, Susan]

Alternative views

In 2005, the Centre for Research on Globalization claimed that the attack was deliberate and was "based on intelligence that then Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević was to have been in the Embassy at the time of the attack". [cite web |url=|title= US Air Strike on China's Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 was Deliberate|accessdate=2007-07-29 |date= 2005-12-29|publisher= Centre for Research on Globalization] The report does not provide sources or independent confirmation, adding to the long list of conspiracy theories concerning US motivations for the attack.

The US media were criticized for overlooking the bombing by a national media watch group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [cite web |url=|title= Chinese Embassy Bombing--Media Reply, FAIR Responds |accessdate=2008-02-03 |date= 1999-11-03|publisher=Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting ] .


External links

* [,,180471,00.html CIA takes rap for embassy attack] by Martin Kettle, The Guardian, April 10, 2000

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