Jiang rejects US bombing apology

Friday, 1 September, 2000

China's president Jiang Zemin has called the United States' explanations for the Nato's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 "absolutely unconvincing".
Mr Jiang said that American "state-of-the-art technology" undermined assurances that the bombing was a tragic mistake.
His comments came during an interview with the American CBS TV channel's 60 minutes programme, which covered a wide variety of issues.
Although Mr Jiang went on to emphasise his desire to improve relations, he said he believed the two countries still "differ greatly in terms of our values".
He said that President Bill Clinton had apologised to him many times for the bombing, which took place during Nato action against Yugoslav forces during the Kosovo crisis.
"I told him, since you represent Americans, and I Chinese, it would be impossible for us to reach total agreement on this issue," the Chinese leader said.

Mr Jiang also pointed to America's economic and technological pre-eminence as being key reasons why, he believes, the US "more often than not tends to overestimate itself and its position in the world".
He also attacked US criticism of China's political system, which prohibits any form of opposition to the communist regime.
"Why must we have opposition parties? You are trying to apply American values and the American political system to the whole world - that is not very wise," he said.
Mr Jiang also launched a new attack on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which Chinese forces are attempting to crush, and its exiled leader Li Hongzhi.
"After careful deliberations, we concluded that Falun Gong is an evil cult," he said, adding that he believed Mr Li was attempting to deceive his followers.

Closer ties
Despite his criticisms of sensitive areas of US-Chinese relations, Mr Jiang said he would work with whoever wins this year's American presidential elections to strengthen ties.
"I hope to convey through your programme my best wishes to the American people," he added.
Mr Jiang's appearance on Sunday is being seen as part of a large-scale charm offensive by China to improve its image world-wide.
In one candid moment, interviewer Mike Wallace attempted to prompt Mr Jiang into saying he admired the lone man captured in a famous photograph standing in front of a line of tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen square protests.
However, the president refused to be drawn saying: "He was never arrested, I don't know where he is now."
But, he conceded: "Looking at the picture, I know he definitely had his own ideas."

Original article