China: ‘NATO Has Wantonly Launched Wars’; Cites Belgrade Embassy Bombing 23 Years Ago

( – China’s ambassador to the U.N. on Thursday cited NATO’s bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade 23 years ago in support of his argument that the transatlantic alliance is an aggressive entity whose actions and expansion since the end of the Cold War have worsened regional security.

“NATO’s repeated eastward expansion after the Cold War has not only failed to make Europe any safer, but also sowed the seeds of conflict,” Zhang Jun told a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine, in comments that echo Russia’s narrative as it seeks to justify its invasion of its neighbor.

“Contrary to its claim to be an organization defensive in nature, NATO has wantonly launched wars against sovereign countries, causing colossal casualties and humanitarian disasters,” Zhang said, speaking through an interpreter.

Noting the anniversary on Saturday of the bombing of the embassy in Belgrade in 1999, he declared, “The Chinese people will never forget this barbaric atrocity, and will never allow such history to repeat itself.”

Three Chinese journalists were killed and more than 20 people were hurt in the May 7, 1999 incident. It took place during NATO’s 11-week air campaign aimed at ending then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign of atrocities against ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo.


China, which together with fellow Security Council permanent member Russia led opposition to the NATO campaign, has never accepted NATO and the CIA’s subsequent finding that the bombing had been accidental.

‘Morally despicable’

China’s stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine has troubled the West. It has chosen not to condemn the invasion, despite the high priority it emphatically places on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity (generally when rejecting outside criticism of its policies in Hong Kong, Tibet, or Xinjiang).

Instead, Chinese officials call for a diplomatic solution, and urge “all parties” to exercise restraint and protect civilians.

It has also sided with Russia’s positions on the “indivisibility of security” – that European countries’ aspirations to join NATO should not come at the expense of Russia’s security – and has condemned sanctions imposed against Moscow over the invasion.

Zhang did so again in New York on Thursday

“Security of all countries is indivisible,” he said. “To base one country’s security on the insecurity of other countries is neither reasonable nor operable.”

Zhang also, in comments again mirroring those of Moscow, accused NATO of provoking the conflict by arming Ukraine rather than working to end it.

“Delivering weapons will not deliver peace,” he said. “It is not only morally despicable to try to benefit from aggravating the conflict, but also dangerous in reality. Doing so is doomed to backfire.”

Beyond China’s rhetorical and diplomatic support for Russia, U.S. officials have claimed that China had advance knowledge of the planned invasion, and that Russia asked China for military and economic assistance after the war began. Beijing has forcefully denied the allegations.

The already strained relationship between the U.S. and China has worsened since Putin invaded Ukraine.

In a paper this week, the State Department detailed what it called China’s “efforts to amplify the Kremlin’s voice on Ukraine,” on matters ranging from debunked allegations of U.S.-funded “biological weapons laboratories” in Ukraine to accusations that Ukrainian rather than Russian forces were responsible for mass killings and atrocities in Bucha and other areas previously under Russian control.

The Chinese Embassy in D.C. hit back, saying that while “China’s position on the Ukraine issue is impartial, objective and beyond reproach” it is the U.S. that is spreading “disinformation.”

It then repeated the bio-warfare labs claims, saying that the U.S. has “admitted” their existence and citing a Pentagon document.

(The document in question explains that the facilities that China and Russia are talking about are part of the DoD’s Biological Threat Reduction Program whose aim is to help “consolidate and secure pathogens and to continue to ensure Ukraine can detect and report disease outbreaks before they pose security or stability threats.” It says the Pentagon carries out similar work in many other countries – including Russia, until 2014.)

‘Tragic accident’

After the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was bombed in 1999, Beijing accused NATO of deliberately targeting the mission, and suspended dialogue on weapons control and human rights for several years.

The Chinese government also permitted protests outside the U.S. and British embassies, where demonstrators displayed banners equating NATO with the Nazis and called for NATO to be disbanded.

NATO said its aircrew had been targeting a Yugoslav weapons-buying directorate, and a NATO spokesman read a statement from Washington that attributed the error to “clearly faulty information.”

The following year the CIA, which had been responsible for the targeting, announced that as a result of a formal inquiry, one official had been fired and six others disciplined. It stated again that the bombing had been a “tragic accident.”

“There is no indication that the Chinese embassy was intentionally targeted or that anyone involved in proposing or reviewing the target nomination package was aware that the site was actually an embassy,” a spokesman for the agency said in April 2000.

China’s foreign ministry rejected the explanation, saying it was “hard for people to believe” that reviews of the target had not established that the building was the embassy, which had “unmistakable markings” and appeared on American maps.

The U.S. agreed to pay $28 million in compensation for damage to the building, and a “voluntary” humanitarian payment of $4.5 million to the families of those killed and wounded.


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