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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

China seeks to restore calm

Reports said the fourth day of protests were more subdued

By Chinese Affairs Analyst James Miles

China is keeping up its tough rhetoric in response to the Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

However, there are signs that it wants to limit the damage the bombing - and the subsequent anti-Nato demonstrations - have caused to its relationship with the United States.

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China's state-controlled media has now published President Clinton's apology for the bombing, and the Foreign Ministry in Beijing has said it has taken note of the president's comments.

It is clearly difficult for China to accept America's apologies wholeheartedly because of the risk that this might further fuel the anger still felt by many Chinese citizens.

Restoring calm

But by stepping up the police presence outside Western diplomatic missions the government is apparently trying to restore calm.

[ image: Keeping a lid on protests]
Keeping a lid on protests
China, however, declared on Monday that it was postponing high-level security and human rights dialogue with the United States.

And the US undersecretary of state for East-Asian affairs has cancelled a planned visit to Beijing this weekend.

Relations between the two countries were already at a low ebb before the bombing of the Chinese embassy because of disputes over a wide range of issues from alleged Chinese espionage in America to human rights and trade.

The embassy bombing has added to the volatility of a relationship that only last month President Clinton warned could slide towards Cold War as a result of growing anti-China sentiment among his political opponents in America.

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