Liberation of Kosovo: China - Peking rejects explanation for embassy bomb

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The Independent Online
PEKING HAS flatly rejected Washington's claim that the Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was an error.

State television yesterday ran a 15-minute rebuttal which poured scorn on the investigation results delivered by the US special envoy Thomas Pickering. The foreign ministry also warned that his claim that data from an old map led to the accidental bombing was not good enough.

"So far the explanations by the US side are not convincing. It is up to the one who ties the knot to untie it,'' the foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said as Mr Pickering and his team headed back toWashington. They in turn warned that there was no other explanation to give and urged China to accept it.

Already rocky Sino-US ties have hit rock bottom over the 7 May bombing, which killed three Chinese journalists and sparked protests across China against the alliance and particularly against the United States.

While most Chinese still believe the bombing was deliberate, they blame Washington for the attack and have largely exonerated the other Nato members. Even Britain, which was singled out as the "running dog" to the United States in the protests straight after the bombing, is back in Peking's good books.

After fuming at the US explanation yesterday, top Chinese officials went on to hold talks with Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who was leading a trade mission to China.

Mr Byers said Peking was in a conciliatory mood towards London and confirmed that the state visit to Britain by the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, scheduled for the autumn, was still on the cards.

"Both in tone and content, the meetings that I've held today have been positive ... I've been made to feel very welcome by the Chinese,'' Mr Byers said.