U.S. Files Protest Over Alleged Shooting Into Diplomatic Quarters
BEIJING (AP) _ The U.S. Embassy filed a protest with the Chinese government Monday alleging soldiers deliberately fired semiautomatic rifles into American diplomats’ apartments last month. China denied the charge.
Eleven apartments in a diplomatic compound were struck by bullets June 7, according to a U.S. Embassy report obtained by The Associated Press.
″There is no doubt ... that certain apartments were deliberately targeted by the PLA (People’s Liberation Army),″ said the report.
No one was injured in the compound. The report said two American children in one of the apartments were shielded by their Chinese nursemaids.
One apartment was hit with 18 bullets, and another was examined and found to have been hit by several rounds fired from across the street, and not on the ground below as the Chinese have claimed, according to the report.
Embassy Charge d’Affaires Raymond Burghardt delivered a note of protest to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, but there was no immediate response, said embassy spokesman Sheridan Bell.
The government-run Xinhua News Agency said the allegations were a lie and that the soldiers were firing in self-defense after snipers began firing at them from both sides of the street.
″Under such circumstance, they certainly have the right to fire in self- defense at the direction from where the snipers’ shots came,″ Xinhua said. It said one soldier died and two were wounded.
The attack came a day after the State Department announced that China’s leading dissident, astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, had taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy after the military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. American diplomats would not link that to the shooting.
The student-led pro-democracy movement was crushed June 3-4 when the army and police moved into central Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and drove out students and their supporters.
Chinese reports say about 300 people died in the violence, including many soldiers and police officers. Chinese witnesses and Western intelligence reports say the death toll could be as high as 3,000, mostly civilians.
More than 1,900 people have been reported arrested since then, and 27 people have been executed, but some of the student protest leaders have avoided capture.
A reporter from Taiwan, who said he interviewed one of the wanted students, was missing after reportedly being forced into a car early Monday by undercover police.
Huang Teh-pei, who works for the Taiwan Independence Morning Post, said he interviewed student leader Wang Dan, who is on a nationwide wanted list, on Sunday.
Police would not confirm Huang was detained, but Antonio Jiang, a reporter for Taiwan’s Journalist Weekly, said he feared Huang and Wang had been arrested.
Huang met Wang in Beijing on Sunday and was driving with him in a car when they noticed they were being followed, Jiang said. Huang got out of the car and Wang was driven off by the car’s driver, but the driver has not been seen since, Jiang said.
He said Huang’s room was searched early Monday and he was forced into a car with no license plates outside his hotel around noon.
Wang, 20, is among the most wanted people in China. A history major at Beijing University, he was among 21 students named in all-points bulletins as organizers of the seven-week democracy protests.
Wang said he had been in hiding in southern China and recently returned to Beijing, according to Jiang. It would have been highly unusual for Wang to come to Beijing, where there is an intense police dragnet, unless he was desperate for help to leave the country.
While public reports of arrests have reduced to a trickle, they are known to be continuing.
Two men in handcuffs were led across a street by soldiers Monday night, and residents report many people have been taken away, questioned and sometimes beaten before being released without being charged.
China protested Monday to the French government over a June 29 incident in which demonstrators occupied part of the Chinese Embassy in Paris for more than two hours.
Chinese media said the French demonstrators forced their way into the embassy’s education section and hung banners ″attacking and vilifying China.″ French news reports said about 30 people took part in the protest. Neither they nor Xinhua said what the protest was about.
A senior Foreign Ministry official told the French ambassadr in Beijing that China ″demanded the French government punish the culprits and take practical and effective measures to ensure that no similar incident would occur in future,″ Xinhua reported.
Premier Li Peng, who ordered martial law in Beijing on May 20, submitted a draft bill Monday prohibiting protests that ″impinge upon the interests of the state.″
It said no protests may oppose the leadership of the Communist Party or socialist system, advocate the splitting of China, or take place near important facilities such as government or party offices, airports, train stations, state guesthouses or diplomatic missions.