China's Weapons Trade

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 15, 2006 | Go to article overview

China's Weapons Trade


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In a report released Monday, Amnesty International examines China's "routine export of conventional weapons and small arms," which have "been contributing to human rights violations including in brutal arms conflicts." The report, which reiterates many previously documented concerns, provides yet another reminder of the darker side of China's tremendous growth over the past decades. Competition from China can undercut the West's goals of using trade and foreign aid to encourage government reforms and progress toward democracy, but China's soft loans and favorable oil deals seem relatively benign compared to its $1 billion-a-year in arms exports.

"Chinese arms deals often involve an exchange of weapons for raw materials," Amnesty International notes, and have included sending weapons to Iran for oil and bartering arms for timber from Charles Taylor's murderous regime in Liberia. During the years that China was selling machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Liberia, there was a U.N. arms embargo in place against the Taylor government. Other rights abusers cited in the report that carry out weapons deals with China include Sudan, Myanmar (Burma) and Nepal. The response from Chinese officials has been typical of any challenge to the country's secretive military: acerbic denials followed by a reversion to party policy, in this case claims of prudence and responsibility in arms dealings.

China supplies Sudan with helicopters and military trucks, which Amnesty International has documented as often being used by the Sudanese army and the Janjaweed militias in Darfur.

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