We started this eight part investigation after we realized how China's humiliating modern history has been used by the Communist government to conduct national ideological re-education. The Campaign of Patriotic Education, which started in 1991, is one of the most important maneuver that the Party launched to redefine the legitimacy of the post- Tiananmen leadership and has been used to fill the spiritual vacuum after the bankruptcy of the official Marxism and Maoist ideology. The ruling party has skillfully and successfully made the education available at all times and everywhere in people's daily lives so that the masses can be influenced and nurtured. And that during the process, the content of history and memory has become institutionalized and embedded in China's education systems, popular culture and public media.

The questions we will first answer are why, China reacted so strongly to the US in case of the three cases that took place this previous decade and we proceed by describing underneath:

(1) Why did China, as a weaker side in this confrontation, take the lead in escalating these conflicts? What factors generated these unusually vehement reactions?

(2) Why did China cooperate with the U.S. in the same period of time on some issues but turn aggressive on these issues?

(3) Why did China treat the U.S. differently from other countries when dealing with conflicts? For example, territorial disputes exist between China and some ASEAN countries. In late 1990s, as a new strategy of strengthening their territorial claims, Philippines and Vietnam took the lead to intensify the situation by seizing and attacking Chinese fishermen and fishing boats. However, the Chinese government demonstrated a very restrained response to these provocations. In 1996, Chinese government expressed only verbal concern but did not take any actions during the massive anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia. Could not China restrain itself in disputes with the only super power of the world?

(4) Why were there widely-believed eonspiracy theories in China regarding U.S. intentions? Neither Chinese leaders nor the Chinese people seem to believe that the bombing of the Embassy was a technical mistake. Instead they perceived a vast conspiracy to conduct the bombing within the US government.

(5) Why are many of Chinese government's actions in external affairs regarded as "harsh" by foreigners but perceived as "soft" by much of its Chinese Enmity Towards The US domestic audience? The three crises further promoted the rising of anti-American nationalism in China. What is the underlying source of the rising nationalism in China?

(6) Why were apologies so important to China? The apology issue became a sticking point in negotiations between China and the U.S. during the two crises of 1999 and 2001. Why did not China ask Philippines, Vietnam or Indonesia to apologize for the injuries and deaths of the Chinese people during those disputes?

The Three Examples

Invited by his alma mater, Cornell University in June 1995, the United States allowed the Taiwanese leader Lee Teng-hui to visit the US.
In consequence, three days after Lee finished his six-day U.S. visit, on June 16, 1995, Beijing recalled from Washington its ambassador, Li Daoyu, and did not accept President Clinton's appointment of a new American ambassador to Beijing. Following these political actions, Mainland China also began a military campaign.

Between July 21 and 26, Mainland China's military launched four 1,125-mile-range DF 21 missiles and two 375-mile-range M-9 missiles into an area roughly 90 miles north of Taiwan. Between August 15 and 25, China held another series of missile tests, in the sea about 80 miles north of Taiwan, causing the Taiwanese stock market to falter. In November, Beijing staged large-scale amphibious maneuvers off the coast of Fujian Province. It was the fourth set of military exercises since June.

Mainland China took further military steps in the Straits in March 1996. From March 8 to March 15, a total of four surface-to-surface ballistic missiles (M-9) were fired from the mainland into target zones in the sea, less than 100 kilometers from the major ports of Keelung in northem Taiwan and Kaohsiung in the south. The new missile tests marked a clear escalation in Mainland China's pressure against Taiwan. The location of the northern target area raised the possibility that Chinese missiles could fly over Taiwanese territory. Chinese missile' intimidation also threatened the economic confidence of the people of Taiwan. For example, the March 4 announcement of the missile tests caused the Taiwan stock market to drop by 62 points the next day; overall the stock market has fallen 27 percent since July 1995.

Three days before the end of the missile tests, on March 12, Beijing began a nine day live-ammunition military exercise in the waters southwest of Taiwan. It involved the mainland's navy and air force and covered a rectangular sea area of about 17,000 square kilometers. The exercises included anti-submarine measures, anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile firings, and live artillery drills. China mobilized 150,000 troops in coastal Fujian province for the drills, along with four submarines, at least 10 navy ships and 300 warplanes. These March 18-25 exercises were the third in the series. They involved ground, air and naval forces and covered a rectangular sea area of 6, 112 square kilometers around the mainland controlled Pingtan island northwest of Taiwan. According to Taiwanese military analysts, in political terms, the three waves of maneuvers were aimed at intimidating Taiwan voters, and militarily they were designed to simulate a stage-by stage invasion of Taiwan and its outlying islands. The first stage - a missile blockade or missile attack on Taiwan - was simulated in the initial March 8 - 15 exercises. In the second stage, March 12 - 20, live-tire drills by warplanes and warships demonstrated movements necessary to control the Taiwan Straits by air and sea. The exercises that started March 18 simulated a third-stage assault by combined forces, including ground troops, on either the Penghu islands or Taiwan.

On March 10, the Clinton Administration announced its decision to dispatch two U.S. navy aircraft carriers and their escort ship groups to waters near Taiwan to monitor growing tensions. The battle group led by the USS Independence, which bad been stationed about 200 miles off Taiwan to monitor the Chinese missile tests, was ordered to move within about 100 miles of the island. The nuclear-powered USS Nimitz and its escorts were pulled out of the Gulf to join the Independence. The involvement of the U.S. navy made the tension in the Taiwan Straits, regarded by Mainland China as a "domestic affair," a real international crisis. It was the first time since the 1950s that the armed forces of the United States and China confronted each other in hostility.

The crisis only ended nine months later with Lee's victory in Taiwan's first popular presidential election. The elections were followed almost immediately by conciliatory statements from China and Taiwan. In Taipei, the government announced a plan to ease its decade-old ban on direct trade with China. In his inaugural speech on 20 May, Lee indicated that he would be willing to make a ''journey of peace" to Mainland China and exchange views with top Chinese leaders. He also emphasized in the speech that it was neither necessary nor possible for Taiwan to achieve independence.10 Beijing sought to hide its disappointment that its "verbal attacks and military threaten" had failed to prevent Lee from being elected in a landslide. Mainland China's military maneuvers ended on schedule March 25, two days after the elections. A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing cal1ed for "a high level summit". Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced March 26 that the U.S. aircraft carrier Independence had departed waters east of Taiwan for its home port in Yokosuka, Japan, the Nimitz would conduct routine operations around Taiwan for another week and then sail for America. (1)

Then there was the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on 8th of May 1999. (2)

At midnight on 8 May 1999, an American B-2 bomber flying from Missouri attacked the Chinese Embassy with five 2000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), a satellite-guided near-precision weapon. Three Chinese were killed in the blast; 23 others were injured. The building of the embassy was seriously damaged. A joint statement by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and CIA Director George J. Tenet issued the same day called the bombing an error:

 We deeply regret the loss of life and injuries from the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade last night. The bombing was an error. Those involved in targeting mistakenly believed that the Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement was at the location that was hit. That military supply facility was the intended target, certainly not the Chinese Embassy.

In Washington, President Bill Clinton proclaimed the bombing a ''tragic mistake" due to outdated maps and extended his "regrets and profound condolences" to the Chinese people. According to the Department of Defense, the Chinese Embassy was not entered in databases listing objects that should be avoided. Since the Chinese Embassy was still carried in the database at its oId Belgrade location, before it bad moved some four years earlier, it did not appear in the electronic check.

In China meanwhile, after an initial emergency meeting of the Politburo standing committee was held in the early morning of May 8, 1999, major cities in China saw their biggest and angriest demonstrations in decades in response to the destruction of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade with the loss of three lives. Thousands of students chanting anti-American and anti-NATO slogans marched in Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou. In Beijing about 100,000 protesters converged on the U.S. embassy, pelting it with rocks and debris and wrestling with police.

The crowd also attempted to set fire to embassy vehicles and shouted anti-American and anti-NATO slogans. Hundreds of police in riot helmets ringed the U.S. Embassy to shield it from the protesters who surrounded the diplomatic mission. Ambassador Sasser and his staff became "essentially hostages" inside the embassy building. The residence of the US Consul General in the south-western city of Chengdu was stormed and partially burned.

The protest was highly unusual for China at the time, where authorities previously banned any large gatherings or demonstrations for fear of unrest. But the students and government this time were in accord. The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, summoned U.S. Ambassador James Sasser and lodged the "strongest protest." A government statement announced that "The Chinese government and people express their utmost indignation and severe condemnation of the barbarian act and lodge the strongest protest." Chinese Internet hackers attacked V.S. government Web sites in protest of Chinese embassy bombing. The main Web sites for the Energy and Interior departments and the National Park Service were targeted. Hackers inserted messages of protest into the agencies' home pages. The pictures of three Chinese who died in the bombing were briefly posted on the Interior Department Web page. Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan issued four demands to U.S. Ambassador to China James Sasser. China made four demands: (1) an "open and official" apology to the Chinese government and people, and relatives of the three Chinese journalists killed in the attack; (2) thoroughly investigate the incident; (3) make the results public; (4) severely punish those responsible. China also announced the suspension of talks on weapons proliferation, international security and human rights with the United States.

The Clinton government offered official apology very quickly. On May 8, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sent a letter to China's minister of foreign affairs, Tang Jiaxuan. She wrote in this letter:

I know Ambassador Sasser and other officials have already conveyed our deep regret about the tragic, accidental fall of bombs on your Embassy in Belgrade, but I wanted to express personally to you my sincere sorrow for the loss of life, injuries, and damage. On behalf of my government and as a member of NATO, I extend sincere apologies and condolences. On May 10, President Clinton spoke in front of the media: "Again I want to say to the Chinese people and to the leaders of China, I apologize, I regret this, but I think it is very important to draw a clear distinction between a tragic mi stake and a deliberate act of ethnic cleansing, and the United States will continue to make that distinction." Clinton also sent a letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Sunday making clear the U.S. government's deep regret over the attack. Clinton also tried twice to talk with Chinese President Jiang over the bilateral hot line, but Jiang refused to take his calls.

Chinese officials said they wanted a fuller official apology from Washington and NATO. Li Zhaoxing, China's ambassador to Washington, said on CNN. "They were so indifferent. They simply said: 'Well, we're sorry. Then they shrugged their shoulders and walked away."

On May 14, Jiang finally agreed to hold a phone conversation at the request of U.S. President Bill Clinton. Clinton expressed his sincere regrets for the tragedy in Belgrade and his personal condolences to the injured staff and family members of the victims. Clinton promised that there would be an investigation of the incident and that he would let the Chinese people know the truth as soon as possible. He said that Sino-U.S. relations are very important, adding that he would make the utmost effort to deal with the tragedy to bring bilateral relations back to normal development. Jiang told Clinton that he had received his recent letter and had also noticed the apology President Clinton had made once again. Both sides called the talk "constructive."

On June 16, in an attempt by Washington to move bilateral relations beyond the embassy attack, U.S. President's Personal Envoy and Under Secretary of State Thomas R. Pickering was sent to Beijing. He presented to the Chinese Government a U.S. Government report on the results of its investigation into the U.S.-led NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

On December 16, 1999, after lengthy negotiations, Beijing and Washington agreed on compensation packages for both sides. According to the agreement, the US Government will pay a sum of US$28 million to the Chinese Government for the property loss and damage suffered by China as a result of the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy. Prior to this, on July 30, the two sides already reached an agreement on the question of compensation for Chinese casualties resulting from the US bombing of the Chinese Embassy.

A third important incident no doubt, is the collision of warplanes off the Chinese coast in April 2001.(3)

On April 1, 2001, a V.S. EP-3 Aries II airplane on a routine surveillance mission near the Chinese coast was intercepted by two Chinese-built F-8 fighter jets and then collided with one of the jets. The damaged V.S. airplane, with its twenty-four crew members made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island at Lingshui where chinese officials detained the crew. The damaged Chinese fighter jet crashed into the water. Chinese efforts to find the F-8's pilot were unsuccessful and it was later determined that the pilot, Wang Wei, had died.

Earlier, during the Cold War days of the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA flew V-2 and other aircraft over Chinese territory. Other military agencies, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force in particular, working in conjunction with the National Security Agency, have operated aircraft that flew near Chinese territory to collect radar and other electronic signals, to intercept communications, and to sweep up aerial debris from nuclear tests. Then, after the above mentioned 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the U.S. has increased its reconnaissance flights in South China Sea area. At the same time, Chinese jets had become increasingly aggressive in approaching and tailing U.S. reconnaissance airplanes.

China immediately charged the United States with responsibility for the new incident, stating that the U.S. airplane had tumed suddenly into the Chinese jet and then landed at Lingshui without pennission. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, it was "normal" and "in accordance with international practice" for Chinese military airplanes to track the U.S. surveillance plane over China's water areas. The direct cause of the damage and crash of the Chinese airplane was that the U.S. plane suddenly veered into the Chinese jet, which was against flight rules. The Chinese side issued a statement on April 4th which demanded a formal apology. The US side should make a prompt explanation to the Chinese government and people about the US plane's ramming of the Chinese jet and its infringement upon China's sovereignty and airspace, apologize to the Chinese side and bear all the responsibilities arising from the incident.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin also called upon the United States to stop its reconnaissance flights in the airspace over China's coastal areas.
The United States responded that the airplane had been operating outside Chinese territorial waters, that the EP-3E Aries II was a large, slow-moving airplane relative to the Chinese F-8, and that the airplane had issued a Mayday alarm and landed in distress. Consequently, no apology was appropriate, and China should allow the immediate return of the crew and the airplane to the United States. President Bush said openly that he would to use a "tough, clear and open way" to communicate with China. In the first two days of the crisis, he made three very strong ultimatums, requiring China to release the Crew members and to return the plane.

The first step should be immediate access by our embassy personnel to our crew members. I am troubled by the lack of a timely Chinese response to our request for this access. And I call on the Chinese government to grant this access promptly. Failure of the Chinese government to react promptly to our request is inconsistent with standard diplomatic practice and with the expressed desire of both our countries for better relations.

Bush also demanded the Chinese government release the twenty-four crew members. "Every day that goes by increases the potential that our relations with China could be damaged." Secretary Colin Powell flatly rejected China's demand of apology. He said on April 3rd: "I have heard some suggestion of an apology, but we have nothing to apologize for. We did not do anything wrong.

After the US's rejection of China's apology demand and China's decision 10 detain the plane's crew while it investigated the collision, the incident immediately became a crisis. Each of the two governments found itself in dilemma. For Beijing, it was unable to release the U.S. crew without an apology, but it seemed the U.S. never was going to offer a formal apology. For Washington, it needed to get the twenty-four crew members returning home as soon as possible to end the crisis; however, the Chinese would not cooperate without an apology. The two positions seemed irreconcilable. As a Reuters article said: "The fate of 24 Americans, a state-of-the-art spy plane and perhaps the future of China-US relations, may in the end boil down to a single word.

The two sides finally agreed to set up a negotiation mechanism to seek a solution. Ambassador Joseph Prueher was appointed as the US chief negotiator; his Chinese counterpart was Mr. Zhou Wenzhong, China's Assistant Foreign Minister. They talked in Beijing.

After initially adopting a belligerent posture, the Bush administration moderated its tone over the next several days in an effort to defuse the confrontation with China. On April 4, Secretary Powell sent a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qicheng. For the first time since the collision, Powell expressed "regret" over the loss of the Chinese fighter jet. Powell's statement was followed the next day by a similar expression of regret from President Bush.

The Chinese side also "lowered the bar" on what would constitute an acceptable apology. On April 6, Chinese President Jiang Zemin used the term "excuse me" when he commented to journalists:

I have visited a lot of countries and seen that it is normal for people to ask forgiveness or say "excuse me" when they collide in the street. But the American planes come to the border of our country and do not ask forgiveness, is this behavior acceptable? The standoff between the two governments lasted eleven days.

On April 11, ambassador Joseph W. Prueher, sent a letter to Chinese foreign minister, Tang Jiaxum, reflecting the outcome of discussions between the two governments. 1t was the fifth version of the letter that was passed to the Chinese side, containing the exact wording that was the object of days of struggle by U.S. and Chinese diplomats. The English-language version of the letter says President Bush is "very sorry" for entering Chinese airspace and making an emergency landing on Hainan Island "without verbal clearance." It also asked Beijing to "please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss."

Beijing government and the Chinese media simply did their own translation of the English text, in which the double "very sorry" became "shenbiao qianyi" (deep _expression of apology or regret) which was what Washington had tried hard to avoid in its Chinese version. Chinese media were also required to use this (Foreign Ministry) version in their reports.

On April 12th, the Chinese government issued a statement: "Since the U.S. government has already said "shenbiao qianyi" (used 'very sorry' in its English version) to the Chinese people, the Chinese government, out of humanitarian considerations, decided to allow the 24 people from the D.S. spy plane to leave.

Besides the six questions we raised at the outset of  the three incidents, and  China's conflict behavior however we also will look at , why, and how, the Chinese Communist Party and the current Chinese government have used history and memory a ‘national humiliating past’ to conduct national ideological re-education, and as a consequensce  we will also answer:

(1) Did the beliefs of history and memory influence actors' interpretation and judgment regarding the conflict situations?

(2) Did the beliefs of history and memory function as filters that limit choices by excluding other variables and contrary interpretations that might suggest other choices?

(3) Did the beliefs of history and memory p1ay any ro1e in limiting, curtailing and creating policy options for response?

(4) Did the beliefs of history and memory provide ethical or moral motivations for actions? Did political leaders use people's beliefs of history and memory to mobilize mass support and/or justify hostility against another group? Did this usage affect the escalation and de-escalation of the conflict?

(5) Did the beliefs of history and memory serve as focal points for causing any conflict or constituting any difficulties to the settlement and resolution of the conflict?


1) Additional  sources we used for this first incident  are: Ralph N. Clough, Cooperation or Conflict in the Taiwan Strait (Lanham, Md.: Rowrnan and Littlefield, 1999); James R. Lilley and Chuck Downs, eds., Crisis in the Taiwan Strait, National Defense University Press, Ft. McNair, Washington, D.C., 1997. Andrew Scobell, "Show of Force: Chinese Soldiers, Statesmen, and the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis," Political Science Quarterly, Volume 115, Number 2, 1 May 2000, pp. 227-246(20); Zheng Wang, "Political Transitions and the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis." MPhil. thesis, University of Bradford, Bradford. 2000; Shuisheng Zhao, Across the Taiwan Strait: Mainland China, Taiwan, and the 1995-1996 Crisis, London: Routledge, 1999.)

2) The sources we used for the second incident are: Peter Hays Gries, "Tears of rage: Chinese nationalist reactions to the Belgrade embassy bombing," China Journal, No. 46 (July 2001), pp. 26; Peter Hays Gries, "Social Psychology and the Identity-Conflict Oebate: Is a 'China Threat' Inevitable?" European Journal 0/ International Relations, 2005 11: 235-265; Gries, Peter Hays. China's New Nationa/ism: Pride. Politics. and Dip/omacy, A Philip E. Lilienthai Book in Asian Studies, 2004; Guangqiu Xu, "Anti-Western Nationalism in China, 1989-99." World Affairs, Vol. 4, Spring (2001): 151-163; Zhao Dingxin, "An Angle on Nationalism in China today: Attitudes among Beijing Studcnts after Belgrade 1999." China Quarterly, 2002 No. J 72: 49-69; Zong Haircn, Zhu Rongii zai J 999 (Zhu Rongii in J 999) (Carle Place, N.Y.: Mirror Books, 2001); English translation, edited and with an introduction by Andrew J. Nathan, in Chinese Law and Guvernment, V 01. 35, No. 1-2,. 2002.

3) The sources we used for the third incident are: Kevin Avruch and Zheng Wang, "Culture, Apology, and International Negotiation: The Case ofthe Sino-U.S. "Spy Plane" Crisis," International Negotiation 10: 337-353, 2005; Gries, Peter Hays and Kaiping Peng (2002). "Culture Clash? Apologies East and West." Journal of Contemporary China, 11,30,173-178; Albert Yee, (2004). "Semantic Ambiguity and Joint Deflections in the Hainan Negotiations," China: An International Journal, 2, 1:53-82.


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