China cuts off talks with U.S.

Discussions on arms and rights canceled

U.S. Embassy stoned

Protests continue 3rd day

State-run news media finally acknowledge apology frm Clinton

War In Yugoslavia

May 11, 1999|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

BEIJING -- As thousands of demonstrators attacked the U.S. Embassy here again yesterday, the diplomatic fallout began with China suspending high-level talks between Beijing and Washington over issues of human rights, arms control and nuclear proliferation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan also demanded that the "U.S.-led" NATO make an "open and official" apology as well as investigate and punish those responsible for Friday's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade that killed three people.

China's state-run media continued their scathing propaganda campaign against NATO and the United States. The selective coverage fed nationalistic rage and raised questions about how Washington and Beijing can repair relations when most Chinese have been led to believe that the missile strike on the embassy was deliberate.

"The Chinese Embassy bombing by NATO could not possibly be an `accident,' " Beijing Youth Daily stated yesterday in an editorial titled "A Naked Lie." "Chinese people can never be confused by these lies and would not accept the so-called `apologies.' "

U.S. officials have said the CIA mistakenly targeted the embassy based on faulty information. Chinese media, though, have quoted NATO as saying the bombing was a "mistake" and three missiles struck the embassy from separate directions.

There seemed some hope today, though, that the Chinese government might be moving to quell the people's expressions of outrage, as the state-run media finally reported that President Clinton had said he was sorry for the attack. The Chinese press had given scant coverage to such apologies.

The ripple effects of the bombing came in quick succession over a wide spectrum.

High-level talks on military contacts and security issues were also suspended by Beijing. Clinton has worked hard for more than two years to develop a wide-ranging dialogue with Beijing on these various issues.

Cultural authorities canceled two concerts by the Boston Symphony this week in Beijing, and movie theaters in major Chinese cities stopped screening American movies.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley shelved a 10-day trade mission to China, and a high-level meeting between state-owned China Construction Bank and U.S. investment house Goldman Sachs and Co. was canceled after the Chinese could not guarantee security. KFC said three of its restaurants in the southern city of Changsha and one in Hefei in the east were closed after being extensively damaged Sunday by protesters.

U.S. trade negotiators are scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Sunday to resume talks on China's bid to join the World Trade Organization. It remained unclear whether they would come after the State Department ordered a suspension of official travel to China because of the demonstrations.

"I think they [the Chinese] will quite naturally try to freeze the negotiators out for a while," said a Western diplomat here. "Things will probably start to drift a little."

Demonstrations, staged mainly by Chinese, also took place in Tokyo, Moscow and Tel Aviv, Israel. In China's arch-rival Taipei, Chinese burned American flags and tossed eggs at the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan. They demanded that the United States apologize to "Chinese all over the world."

As the protests here entered their third day yesterday, the crowds -- which had numbered more than 10,000 on Sunday -- became smaller and more orderly. What had felt like a giant mob during much of the weekend seemed more like an angry parade yesterday.

Protesters marched through the capital's embassy district, stopping along the way to arm themselves with chunks of concrete from sidewalks under renovation. When they reached the main U.S. Embassy compound, police allowed them about five minutes to hurl their weapons and shout anti-American invective and then moved them on to make way for new groups.

The mood was in marked contrast to Sunday when demonstrators roughed up Western reporters and besieged the U.S. Embassy. U.S. Ambassador James R. Sasser, a former senator from Tennessee, said he and staff members had destroyed sensitive documents Sunday, when Chinese police seemed to be in danger of being overwhelmed by the crush of angry students.

Sasser's wife, Mary, was trapped inside the ambassador's residence a few blocks away, fearing for her life. As rocks came crashing through her home, she was convinced that protesters had climbed over the compound wall and broken in, she said.

"We had no Marines, no security, nobody, and there was nowhere we could go," said Mrs. Sasser, who was inside with her son, Gray, and four of his friends, who were visiting from the United States. "People don't realize how terrorizing it is when you have a mob outside whom you can't control and you don't know what's going to happen."

The Chinese government stationed hundreds of police in front of the residence, but Mrs. Sasser said she began to worry that protesters might breach other, poorly protected parts of the wall when rocks came soaring in from another direction.

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