The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 44.0°F | Fair


Rocks And Broken Windows

Elaine Wan

A month ago, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji’s visit to the United States and special stop at MIT raised hopes that America’s alliances with China would be fortified. But it now appears that the pro-democracy, Tibetan and Taiwanese activists are not the main opponents against goodwill between the two countries. The “accidental” bombing of the Chinese embassy during a NATO airstrike in Belgrade, Yugoslavia late Friday has caused numerous violent protests in China and the United States.

An United States embassy was established in China to represent the rights of our citizens living there and to act as an American communication line to relay information between the two countries. This communication line has now become the focus of attack for many students and protestors in Beijing. U.S. citizens and political officials have been held accountable for the actions of NATO and the damage to the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia. Even though the Chinese military have tried to hold the protestors back, the windows of the U.S. embassy have been completely shattered by rocks. U.S. Ambassador James Sasser has now become a hostage within his own embassy. U.S. reporters in China have been mauled and questioned regarding NATO’s actions.

China has demanded an emergency session of the U .N. Council to discuss what Chinese officials call a “barbarian act,” according to New York Times of May 9. Yugoslav officials said one person was killed and twenty-six were injured by two direct hits on the embassy. Many officials in China are still questioning whether the attack was intentional. China is a permanent member of the Security Council and has been strongly opposed to the past NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia. Some claim that the attack may have been used to spur Chinese involvement in the Kosovo crisis.

U.S. officials report that the Chinese embassy was hit by mistake because faulty intelligence information indicated that the building was a Yugoslav supply facility, according to CNN. Many Chinese have ignored NATO’s apologies and have declared that apologies are not enough because of NATO’s violation of international law.

If the Chinese react the same way we have to our bombed embassies and injured citizens, will we be facing a war with China in the near future? Last August, we lost embassies of our own in Kenya and Tanzania. Those bombings raised such clamor that it emotionally urged us and our politicians to bomb the “secret chemical weapons” plant in Sudan.

Till today, the media are still discussing whether that plant was financially supported by Osama bin Laden, the CIA’s suspected mastermind of the Kenyan and Tanzanian bombings. The Sudan government still claims that the American intelligence was faulty and that the plant only made medicine and not chemical nerve gas. Some Americans question point to the fact that only few lab tests were performed at the Sudan plant as evidence of chemical manufacturing.

In April 1986, President Reagan publicized the contents of decoded Libyan diplomatic cables to justify his ordered U.S. bombing raid on Tripoli. Reagan linked Libya to the bombing of West Berlin discotheque that killed a U.S. Serviceman, according to “Flaws in U.S. Account Raise Questions on Strike in Sudan,” August 29, 1998, The New York Times.

Maybe it is time we make sure that NATO and American intelligence is no longer “faulty.” It is completely ridiculous to think that by saying that NATO made a mistake, it is okay to kill one or injure many people. But the truth is that the bombing did occur and the United States is getting the blame for NATO’s actions. Therefore, our country will be left with the responsibility of making compensations to China. We may have to make the best use of what is left of Sino-American ties to ensure that increasing involvement of numerous countries in Kosovo does not lead to another big massacre closer to home.