June 13th, 2006
Amnesty Says China Arming Human Rights Abusers info
China is emerging as one of the world's largest and most irresponsible arms |
exporters, undermining international arms embargoes and fuelling rights abuses, said Amnesty International (AI) in a report released on Monday.
"China's arms exports policy is reckless and dangerous, paying no heed to human rights," said Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International in the United Kingdom. "In a bid to continue economic expansion and grab a slice of the lucrative global weapons market, China has shipped weapons into conflict zones and to countries that torture and repress their people."
According to the report, China's arms exports are estimated at more than $1 billion annually, making it the eighth largest supplier of conventional weapons in 2004. Many of these weapons are manufactured and sold by companies operated by the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The report highlights the danger posed to international peace not only by nuclear technology transfer, but also by Chinese supplies of conventional weapons and small arms. The report cited examples of how Chinese exports are undermining international embargoes and peacekeeping efforts.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an estimated 3 million people have been killed in civil war since 1996, AI found that Chinese AK-47 assault rifles were common among soldiers and militia fighters. According to the report, researchers investigating the origin of 1100 weapons collected by United Nations peacekeepers found that seventeen percent were of Chinese origin.
Regarding violence in Liberia over the past decade, "evidence has emerged allegedly showing that a Dutch arms dealer Gus Van Kouwenhoven brokered the delivery of large quantities of arms to Liberia from China, in contravention of the UN arms embargo," says the report.
According to Amnesty International, the Chinese motive for such deals often involves an exchange of weapons for raw material needed to fuel rapid economic growth, such as timber in the case of Liberia or oil in Sudan.
China has thus sold helicopters to the Sudanese government, says the report. Some of these aircraft have reportedly been used to attack civilians in the Western province of Darfur, where a conflict the US government has called genocide has raged since 2003.
According to AI, many of these arms exports remain undocumented, however, because of a lack of transparent reporting and monitoring by the Chinese authorities.
"It is a trade shrouded in secrecy," says AI. "Beijing does not publish any information about arms transfers abroad and hasn't submitted any data to the UN Register on Conventional Arms in the last eight years."
Some of this secrecy is fuelled by Western involvement in weapons development, says the report. According to an April 2005 article in Jane's Defence Weekly, "the intense secrecy that surrounds the Z-10 [military attack helicopter] is probably driven by the involvement of western firms who have provided much technical assistance."
As such, in addition to calling on China to increase transparent reporting, support an international Arms Trade Treaty, and ban the transfer of weapons and other equipment that could be used for human rights abuses, AI has also called on Western governments to take action. "As long as China continues to allow arms supplies to the perpetrators of gross human rights violations, the international community must redouble its regulation of joint ventures …. and must strengthen the application of arms embargoes on China such as those imposed by the European Union and the USA," concludes the report.
CHINESE GUNS: A militiaman carrying two AK-47 rifles passes burning bushes in the violence-ridden Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Amnesty International, seventeen percent of weapons collected in the area by United Nations peacekeepers were found to have come from China (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images).