Twenty years ago — on the night of May 7-8, 1999 — the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, was deliberately bombed by the U.S. Air Force.
This war crime was committed during the 78-day-long bombing of then-socialist Yugoslavia by NATO. Three Chinese journalists were killed. At least twenty were injured.
Ambassador Pan Zhanlin escaped being killed only because the bomb that crashed through the roof of his residence didn’t explode.
The bodies of newlywed journalists Xu Xinghu, 31, and Zhu Ying, 27, were found under a collapsed wall. They wrote for the Communist Party daily newspaper Guangming (Enlightenment).
Forty-eight-year-old Shao Yunhuan of the Xinhua news agency was also killed. Her husband, Cao Rongfei, was blinded.
While it was one or more U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers that attacked the embassy, it was the CIA that picked the target. The CIA director, George Tenet, later testified that the embassy bombing was organized and directed by his agency.
This liar claimed satellite images showed “no flags, no seals, no clear markings,” when in fact all three were present.
Why did the U.S. do it?
The CIA chose to bomb the embassy because the U.S. military-industrial complex wanted to launch a war on China. They viewed President Bill Clinton’s murderous bombing of Yugoslavia as a poor substitute.
After the Soviet Union and the socialist countries of Eastern Europe were overthrown — with the exception of Yugoslavia — the Pentagon wanted to destroy the People’s Republic of China.
In 1996, Clinton had already used aircraft carriers in a military provocation against China, ostensibly over the stolen Taiwan province. But that wasn’t enough for the military. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1996 was Gen. John Shalikashvili, whose father had been a general in Hitler’s SS.
The attitude of a major section of the ruling class was shown by the Republican Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Tom DeLay, who bragged how he physically confronted the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the U.S. during a filming of Meet The Press:
“So he’s coming off the stage and I’m going onto the stage and I intentionally walked up to him and blocked his way. … I grabbed [his] hand and squeezed it as hard as I could and pulled him a kind of little jerk like this and I said: ‘Don’t take the weakness of this president as the weakness of the American people.’ And he looked at me kind of funny, so I pulled him real close, nose to nose, and I repeated it very slowly, and said, ‘Do-not-take-the-weakness-of-this-president-as-the-weakness-of-the-American-people.’”
Defend Venezuela’s Embassy
The attack on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was answered by hundreds of thousands of Chinese students demonstrating against U.S. imperialism. Even Boris Yeltsin — whom the U.S. had re-elected in 1996 — felt compelled to send troops to Yugoslavia at Pristina airport on June 12, 1999, a month after the embassy bombing.
Later that same year was the “Battle of Seattle,” where thousands of union workers and students confronted the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. People around the world saw the brutality of Seattle’s cops.
But it was world finance capital trying to squeeze blood out of a stone throughout Latin America that provoked the biggest fightback. Hungry people in Buenos Aires stripped supermarkets of food and Argentina was forced to cancel debt payments.
Latin American declared ¡Basta ya! to the neoliberal program of cutbacks and misery. Hugo Chávez Frías was elected Venezuela’s president on Dec. 6, 1998, and inaugurated on Feb. 2, 1999.
The Bolivarian Revolution had begun.
Twenty years later, U.S. imperialism’s latest attempt to turn back the clock in Venezuela to the time when it was a colony of Big Oil and Nelson Rockefeller is sputtering.
Just like the CIA-directed bombing of China’s Embassy in Belgrade, the current attack on Venezuela’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., by the State Department and Secret Service, is an international crime.
Whenever you hear the State Department or the capitalist media attacking any country for violating “the freedom of the press,” remind them of the three Chinese journalists who were murdered in Belgrade: Xu Xinghu, Zhu Ying and Shao Yunhuan.
The best way to honor their memory is to continue to defend Venezuela’s Embassy. Hands off Venezuela!