The compensation agreement, however, requires congressional approval in the next federal budget, and it may prove a tempting target for legislators critical of the administration's China policy. "A lot of reactions from Congress are based on an imperfect understanding of international affairs," says Dowell. "And a lot of people on Capitol Hill still imagine China in terms of a 'Red Threat' or a 'Yellow Peril.' That could create difficulties when this deal gets to Congress." If the agreement becomes the focus of a domestic political fight, that could further cloud U.S.-China relations after all, despite the compensation deal, Beijing hasn't yet accepted that the embassy bombing was an accident.
One bombed-out embassy in Belgrade: $28 million. Repairing U.S. relations with China over the matter: Priceless. At least that's what the Clinton administration hopes after agreeing to pay China $28 million in compensation for inadvertently wrecking the country's Belgrade embassy during the Kosovo conflict. In return, Beijing will pay Washington $2.87 million for damage to the U.S. embassy during the ensuing protests in China's capital. "Bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was a terrible mistake that dramatically set back relations with Beijing and fueled China's paranoia about Washington's intentions," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "The challenge was to find a compensation amount that would bring closure to the matter while allowing the Chinese to save face, and that's what this deal appears to have achieved."