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 Posted Thursday, May 27, 1999

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The Washington Times

Published in Washington, D.C., 5am -- May 24, 1999


Spies tell China: Embassy Attack was no Accident



China's intelligence service reported to Beijing earlier this month that the bombing of Beijing's embassy in Belgrade was a deliberate attack aimed at dragging China into the Balkans conflict, according to Pentagon intelligence officials.

A classified report based on National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence data was sent to senior Pentagon officials last week and revealed that Chinese intelligence viewed the attack as part of a NATO "conspiracy" to involve China in the war.

The Chinese spy agency based its judgment on the damage caused by the bombs. The three U.S. Joint Direct Attack Munitions, satellite-guided bombs known as JDAMs, caused the most damage to the embassy's security communications room and the defense attache's office, said officials familiar with the NSA report.

"They are convinced it was intentional," one official said of the Chinese.

According to U.S. defense and intelligence officials, the NATO bombing May 7 by U.S. bombers was a mistake based on faulty intelligence. The embassy was misidentified as a Serbian military building based on map and satellite photographs. Several military and intelligence agencies that reviewed plans for the attack caught the error.

Officials said intelligence reports on the internal Chinese reaction to the bombing help explain why Beijing has not accepted U.S. explanations that the bombing was a tragic error. Three Chinese nationals died in the attack and 20 others were wounded.

President Clinton has apologized to the Chinese government and leaders on several occasions and recently discussed restitution for the damages caused by the errant bombing strike, said Pentagon officials.

Asked about the Chinese view of the embassy bombing, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon declined to comment.

China has reacted to the bombing by canceling all military exchanges with the United States and by organizing anti-American activities against the United States, the officials said.

Beijing also has demanded an official investigation into the attack and threatened publicly that China could retaliate in unspecified ways.

According to the Pentagon officials, China instructed embassy people to search the bombed-out building for fragments of the missiles that hit the building. The JDAM is one of the most advanced U.S. munitions that is guided to its target by data fed from the constellation of Global Positioning System navigational satellites.

China is known to be developing advanced long-range cruise missiles that will use the GPS satellite data for targeting and midcourse correction of the missiles.

The Chinese embassy personnel were to send any JDAM fragments to Beijing as soon as possible, the officials said.

Meanwhile, separate Pentagon intelligence reports have revealed that China's government has directed its state-run media to single out the United States for blame. Other NATO countries have not come under fire from the Chinese government over the errant attack because of growing anti-American sentiment among Chinese leaders, the officials said.

Officials said a Chinese government news organization instructed all Chinese media and reporters around the country not to report that NATO's bombing was the result of an accident.

In addition, Beijing ordered news organizations to focus their criticism on the U.S. government, American citizens and U.S. corporations and investors in China, the officials said.

Chinese reporters were prohibited by the Beijing government from reporting on protest demonstrations in China directed at any NATO countries other than the United States, the officials said.

The bombing triggered days of protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that were approved and supported by the Chinese government. Protesters hurled rocks and chanted slogans and prevented outgoing U.S. Ambassador James Sasser from leaving the compound.

A survey conducted by China's Beijing Youth Daily found that 40 percent of the Chinese people believed the embassy bombing was intentional and designed to test China's reaction. Another 16 percent stated that the bombing was intended to silence China's criticism of the NATO bombing campaign, according to findings of the poll reported by China's official Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

The nighttime bombing raid was carried out by a single B-2 stealth bomber that fired three JDAMs at the Belgrade embassy. The 2,000-pound high-explosive bombs are "near-precision" weapons that are less accurate than the laser-guided bombs used in a large portion of the bombing strikes in Yugoslavia.

The laser-guided bombs require pointing and holding a laser beam "designator" from an aircraft or soldier on the ground that is used by the bombing's guidance package to home in on the target.

By contrast, the JDAM is a "standoff" weapon that is fired miles from the target and guided to the target by use of a GPS guidance system.

State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said on Friday that the U.S. government's investigation of the bombing that China had requested is nearly complete. "We will be presenting the findings of our investigation into the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade to the People's Republic of China," he said.

Copyright © 1999 News World Communications, Inc.
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