Chinese Whispers: China's vendetta against Nato

May 13, 03:42 PM

Last week, President Xi Jinping visited Serbia. An unexpected destination, you might think, but in fact the links between Beijing and Belgrade go back decades. One event, in particular, has linked the two countries – and became a seminal moment in how the Chinese remember their history.

In 1999, the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was bombed by US-led Nato forces. Three Chinese nationals died. An accident, the Americans insisted, but few Chinese believed it then, and few do today. The event is still remembered in China, but now, little talked about in the West.

Xi’s visit was timed to the 25th anniversary of the bombing itself. ‘The China-Serbia friendship, forged with the blood of our compatriots, will stay in the shared memory of the Chinese and Serbian peoples’, Xi wrote for a Serbian paper ahead of the visit.

So what exactly happened that night in May, and what does the event – and its aftermath – tell us about Chinese nationalism today?

Cindy Yu is joined by Peter Gries, Professor of Chinese Politics at Manchester University and author of numerous books on China, including China’s New Nationalism: Pride, Politics and Diplomacy.