(File photo: Global Times)
Twenty-one years after a brutal missile attack on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, Chinese people cannot forget the sorrow and humiliation it caused, flooding to the internet to commemorate the martyrs and slamming American hegemony and its incompetence, especially in light of the US' "pathetic" COVID-19 response.
Chinese netizens started to commemorate the martyrs online from early Friday morning, the 21st anniversary of the attack, by posting the photos of the three journalists, saying they will always remember the martyrs and the humiliation, and strive to make the country stronger.
"Good thing is such humiliation will never happen to China today as the country is much stronger than 21 years ago," said a user of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
They also expressed disappointment in the so-called American democracy, referring to the US' performance in the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as their trade war against China in recent years.
We should recognize that the US always treats China as an enemy and never stops trying to subjugate China. We should unite and develop to overcome American hegemony, netizens warned.
The attack happened on May 7 midnight (5 am on May 8 in Beijing), 1999, killing three Chinese journalists and injuring more than 20 others. The three journalists were Shao Yunhuan of the Xinhua News Agency, Xu Xinghu and his wife Zhu Ying of the Guangming Daily newspaper.
The attack was reportedly carried out by US warplanes as part of a NATO operation. The US maintained that it was an accident as they mistook the embassy for a weapons depot.
A survey released by US think tank Eurasia Group Foundation in early April showed Chinese attitudes toward the US political system and global influence have grown increasingly negative, and this sentiment is expected to continue after the pandemic, which will be reflected in next year's report, Chinese analysts said.
The Chinese Embassy in Belgrade also held a ceremony on Thursday at the site where the attack occurred to commemorate the three reporters. Chinese Ambassador Chen Bo and Serbia's Labor Minister Zoran Djordjevic attended the ceremony.
"China and Serbia are iron friends sharing weal and woe, and we always support each other in times of difficulty," Chen said.
"We'll come here every year to pay tribute and remember what happened, hoping something like that won't happen to anyone anywhere ever again," Djordjevic said.
Predrag Markovic, director of the Institute for Contemporary History in Serbia and vice president of the Socialist Party of Serbia, told the Global Times on Friday that the bombing of the Chinese Embassy has shown two typical traits of US politics.
"The first is arrogance. The US demonstrated disrespect for both international law and diplomatic rules. The other is incompetence. Officially, they claimed that pilots had wrong city maps. Looking at the pathetic US performance during the pandemic and other crises in the 21st century, we cannot dismiss this aspect," Markovic said.
"This day has scarred our collective history. The suffering of civilians, the indiscriminate destruction, the targeting of the innocent, and especially the attack on the embassy of a friendly nation will always be considered a crime by us," said the Serbian Embassy in China in a statement to the Global Times on Friday.
We honor the memory of the Chinese journalists who lost their lives in Serbia. We remember them today and forever as friends of Serbia, the embassy said.
Today, as we are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, our Chinese friends are with us again. We are deeply grateful to them for their selfless help and support. Together, we can overcome any hardship and look forward to brighter days ahead, the embassy said.
China-Serbia friendship has deep roots. We are both peoples who had liberated ourselves in WWII without significant support from allies. During the first NATO military intervention, Chinese martyrs shared the destiny of Serbian people, Markovic noted.
"China constructed more buildings in Serbia and other countries than any other great power in a brotherly way without any political conditions. During the pandemic, the Chinese were the first to help. We believe that our future is much safer with the benevolent China on our side," he said.
Chinese citizens were not allowed to attend the ceremony this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the embassy said.