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Two events in 1999 dramatise a clear potential for the People's Republic of China and the United States of America to enter a relationship of superpower contention. The first event of note was the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on 7 May. The second, also in May, concerns allegations of nuclear espionage levelled against China by a US congressional report. These two episodes, remarkable as they are on their own terms, are even more meaningful when viewed within a wider context of Sino-US relations on the eve of the 21st century.