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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Hits Embassy, Enrages China

BEIJING -- Tens of thousands of Chinese have besieged the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to protest the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, and China on Monday demanded the United States offer a fuller apology.

Protesters on Sunday hurled bricks, paint and flaming tires at the Beijing U.S. Embassy buildings, shattering nearly all the windows and defacing the brown facades with red and black spatters of paint. "Blood for blood!'' marchers shouted.

Protests continued Monday for a third day with students dragging an effigy of an American soldier past the U.S. and British embassies.

The NATO strike late Friday night killed three Chinese journalists and injured 20 other people. A statement issued by U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and CIA Director George Tenet called the bombing "an error'' caused by "faulty information.'' Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan called U.S. Ambassador James Sasser on Monday to demand an "open and official" apology. He also said the United States should thoroughly investigate the attack, make the results public and "severely punish those responsible.''

Trapped in the embassy compound by the demonstrators, Sasser refused a face-to-face meeting with Tang at the Foreign Ministry. He said in an interview that security had deteriorated enough outside the embassy that at one point he ordered sensitive papers destroyed.

Russia's envoy for Kosovo, Viktor Chernomyrdin, headed for China on Monday as part of the search for an end to the conflict in Yugoslavia, now complicated by the attack on the Chinese Embassy.

President Jiang Zemin lashed out at NATO's "absolute gunboat policy."

Xinhua news agency quoted Jiang as telling President Boris Yeltsin by telephone that continued NATO bombing would make it "impossible for the UN Security Council to discuss any plan to solve the problem." China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and its support is vital for any UN peace plan.

About 50 Chinese rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Sunday, Interfax reported. They were not allowed to approach the building, which is guarded by police units.

The bombing of the embassy in Belgrade has left China's relations with the United States at one of the lowest points since the two countries established ties 20 years ago.

Carefully built connections began to unravel Monday as China announced that it was canceling high-level military and human rights contacts with Washington. Areas affected included arms control, international security and the preventon of arms proliferation.

China suspended similar contacts with Washington in a confrontation over Taiwan in 1995 and 1996 f one of the tensest periods since diplomatic relations were established. China downgraded but did not cancel a visit Wednesday by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

In a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Sasser and his staff f who have been virtually trapped inside the embassy by the protests f expressed their "profound sorrow'' at the bombing and offered condolences to families of the victims.

But China's state-controlled media failed to report either that statement or an expression of regret by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

State-run media reported Monday for the first time U.S. and NATO claims that the attack was an accident but ran lengthy explanations by military analysts meant to show that the bombing was a in fact well-planned attack.

The protests are the biggest in Beijing since the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations 10 years ago.

Demonstrations Saturday that involved mostly students quickly expanded in dozens of cities Sunday to include blue- and white-collar workers and even families with children. City buses were pressed into service in the capital to ferry protesters to the leafy avenue lined with Western embassies where the U.S. mission is located, and official signs directed marchers on a recommended route.

Molotov cocktails lobbed through embassy windows started two small fires inside the building, which were extinguished by Marine guards, embassy officials said.

The British and Albanian embassies also have been targeted.

The state's support of the protests could turn out to be a double-edged sword, however. Both Western and Chinese officials worry that the Chinese government is stoking a fury that may be growing greater than authorities' ability to channel it.

After clearing the streets near the U.S. Embassy early Monday morning, police began letting groups of protesters back in at about 9 a.m. The demonstrations were more regulated and smaller. Police allowed protesters in groups and shooed away onlookers.

Groups of Burgundy-robed Tibetan monks, Catholic seminarians in black and Moslems in white skull caps marched with students and office workers along the seven-block route past the U.S. and British embassies.

Students dragged and kicked a life-size dummy of a U.S. soldier in a green uniform with an American flag on its chest. The image seemed drawn from the humiliating capture of U.S. soldiers in Somalia.

Ambassador Sasser and other American officials were inside the U.S. compound surrounded by hundreds of police in riot helmets. Although Tang summoned Sasser to the Foreign Ministry, the ambassador declined, citing concerns about his safety, U.S. Embassy spokesman Bill Palmer said.

Protests took place in Shanghai, Chengdu and, according to state media, at least 17 other cities.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filed past the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, near Hong Kong, on Monday but did not hurl rocks or other objects.

Small demonstrations against the NATO bombing also took place in Taipei, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The U.S. State Department issued an advisory Monday warning Americans to postpone travel to China "until the situation stabilizes.'' It ordered its diplomats to stay home and advised other Americans to do so. Official travel by U.S. government employees to China has been suspended and those working in the country have been told to stay home, the advisory said.

In Yugoslavia, the state Tanjug news agency said it was probably the quietest night since the start of the NATO "aggression'' against Yugoslavia on March 24, and the first time that an air raid alert did not sound in the Yugoslav capital.

In Brussels, NATO said the reduced bombing was due to bad weather, and had no political significance.