China newspaper blasts US over consulate fire in San Francisco

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese state-run newspaper on Friday accused the United States of "security failure" after an arsonist severely damaged the door of China's consulate in San Francisco.

The Global Times, a newspaper that is close to China's ruling Communist Party and often strikes a nationalist tone, reproached the American government for failing to provide due protection for Chinese diplomatic personnel and called for "severe punishment" of the offenders.

The attack on Jan 1, which came on the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Washington and Beijing, was condemned by the consulate as a "despicable act" and is under police investigation.

The consulate was targeted in a similar arson attack in March 2008, according to a US media report.

"Given the recurrence of such incidents, the US government can hardly absolve itself from blame," the paper said in its editorial.

It added that "anti-China forces" were "more audacious" in taking dramatic and radical actions because they had support, such as funding, from the US government and social organisations.

"Under such circumstances, Chinese Embassy and its consulates should have been more heavily protected by US security forces. However, a lack of hard crackdowns on those attackers has obviously made them feel they are being winked at," it said.

The US must "impose severe punishment" on the offenders so that Chinese people can "feel a sense of responsibility from the US government", it added.

The comments came after China's foreign ministry on Thursday said that it had filed a formal complaint with Washington, urging US authorities to solve the case "as soon as possible" and harshly punish those responsible.

"(We) have required the US to...make sure no similar incident should happen again," said ministry spokesman Qin Gang in a statement.

The US State Department has said it was "deeply concerned" by the reports of the incident, and was working with police and the FBI to find the perpetrators.

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