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China slams US for leaving unexploded bombs in SE Asia

This May 5, 2022 photo shows a war-left aerial bomb recovered from the Chaktomuk River in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. (CMAC/HANDOUT VIA XINHUA)

BEIJING – China’s Foreign Ministry has 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," ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

According to Cambodian media reports, a US-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 US aerial bombs were discovered in Cambodia, each weighing more than 200 kilograms.

READ MORE: 7 more US chemical bombs found in SE Cambodia

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 them, 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.

What the US defends is its own hegemony and the 'rules of the gang' at the expense of the fundamental interests of small and medium-sized countries.

Zhao Lijian, Spokesperson, Foreign Ministry, China 

"In Laos, the US 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 US 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 US-style double standard for Washington 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.

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"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.

People take photos of a Mark 82 (Mk 82) bomb lifted out of the Mekong River in Kandal province, Cambodia, May 21, 2015. (SOVANNARA / XINHUA)

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, he 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.