Int. Herald Tribune
LiPeng lauds Belgrade

Chinese leader praises 'heroic' defense against Nato

Paris, Tuesday, June 13, 2000

BELGRADE- Li Peng, the second-most powerful figure in the Chinese Communist Party, received a majestic reception here Monday and praised Yugoslavia for its "heroic" defense against NATO bombing last year.

Mr. Li assailed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States for the 78-day air war against Yugoslavia last year, saying that the attacks violated international law "and blatantly interfered in internal affairs of a sovereign country."

"NATO, led by the United States," by launching air strikes, "crudely interfered in the internal affairs of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia," Mr. Li told the federal Parliament at a joint session of both chambers. "That represents a violation of the UN Charter," he added, "and a serious threat to stability both in Europe and in the world."

China strongly opposed NATO intervention in the southern province of Kosovo. This opposition grew stronger after the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was accidentally hit during the air war. "Yugoslavs made a heroic defense and defied the pressure of powerful countries," said Mr. Li, who is also the head of China's National People's Congress.

After the red-carpet welcome Sunday at Belgrade's airport, a packed assembly convened Monday to listen to Mr. Li. Nearly every figure in the leadership attended, save for President Slobodan Milosevic, who is expected to meet him later. The Parliament speaker, Milomir Minic, said Yugoslavia supported "reunification of all parts of Chinese territory," adding "that Taiwan will soon be rejoined to the motherland."

China is reported to have granted Yugoslavia a $300 million loan and envisages broader trade exchange with the country. Mr. Li, invited Yugoslav politicians and businessmen to visit China to step up the cooperation.

"Although weapons are silent now, Kosovo's problems are not solved, ethnic conflicts are far from easing and the question of refugees is still acute," he said. "The Balkan region is far from peace and stability."

Original article