Wed, 18 May 2022

BEIJING, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Wednesday slammed the United States for leaving tens of thousands of tonnes of unexploded bombs in Southeast Asian countries.

"During the Vietnam War, the United States used cluster bombs and bio-chemical weapons and committed heinous crimes in Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia," Zhao told a regular press briefing.

According to Cambodian media reports, a U.S.-made explosive device weighing almost one tonne and containing more than 500 kg of explosives was recently uncovered opposite the Royal Palace in the capital Phnom Penh. In April this year alone, at least five unexploded U.S. aerial bombs were discovered in Cambodia, each weighing more than 200 kilograms.

In response to a question on the topic, Zhao said that the United States released more than 15 million tonnes of bombs, landmines and shells in Vietnam, of which about 80,000 tonnes are unexploded and remain scattered over nearly 20 percent of the country's territory, which has killed more than 40,000 people and wounded more than 60,000 since the end of the Vietnam War.

"In Laos, the U.S. troops dropped 270 million bombs, weighing 2 million tonnes in total, meaning one tonne or 135 bombs for each person in the country," Zhao said.

According to incomplete data from Yale University, from October 1965 to August 1973, the United States dropped 2.7 million tonnes of ordnance on Cambodia, said the spokesperson. Statistics from the Cambodian government show that from 1979 to 2021, nearly 20,000 people were killed and more than 45,000 people were crippled by unexploded ordnance including landmines.

"History has proven that the United States is a destroyer of rules and order, a maker of violence and conflict, and a perpetrator of coercive diplomacy," Zhao said.

He said it is a typical U.S.-style double standard for the United States to pin the labels of "coercion" and "militarization" on others while forming small cliques and instigating confrontation in the name of democracy, human rights and rules.

"What the United States defends is its own hegemony and the 'rules of the gang' at the expense of the fundamental interests of small and medium-sized countries," the spokesperson said.

It is the common aspiration of regional countries and the shared hope of the international community to seek peace, solidarity and cooperation rather than turmoil, division and confrontation, Zhao said.

Noting that attempts to provoke bloc confrontation and create turbulence and tension will gain no support, Zhao said Asian countries will never allow the region to be used as a chessboard for major power rivalry or a chess piece for major power confrontation.

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