HRF Challenges China’s Attempt to Diminish its Role in Arms Exports to Sudan

February 22, 2008 – Human Rights First challenged Chinese Ambassador Liu Guijin’s assertion that China accounts for only eight percent of weapon’s exports to Sudan. Ambassador Liu is the Chinese Special Envoy on the situation in Darfur and made the claim during an interview with the BBC today.

“It is far too easy for China to fudge numbers about their weapons exports, especially when they do not thoroughly and consistently report information about weapons exports to the United Nations as most other countries do,” stated Betsy Apple, director of the Crimes Against Humanity Program at Human Rights First. “The bottom line is that during the worst of the carnage in Darfur, China has exported heavy weapons and small arms to Sudan. For China to continue to export weapons to a government that is responsible for orchestrating the deaths of at least 200,000 people and the displacement of millions more is not only appalling, it begs the question: is China enabling atrocities in Darfur?”

China is currently by far Sudan’s largest known provider of small arms, small arms parts, and ammunition—the type of weapons that have been used by agents of the Sudanese government to wreak havoc in Darfur. Trade data maintained by the United Nations shows that for the period 1999 to 2005, Sudan imported a total of just under $80 million worth of these goods; and that more than $46 million of this, or nearly 57 percent, came from China (including Hong Kong). From 2001 to 2005, a period that includes the start of the Darfur crisis, Sudan’s imports of small arms rose a striking 450 percent.

“There is a deeply troubling correlation between the China-driven oil boom in Sudan, the acceleration of Sudan’s weapons procurement, and the violence in Darfur,” observed Apple. “Even if China is not the top weapons exporter to Sudan, as Ambassador Liu claims, the money from Sudanese oil exports to China is being used by Khartoum to acquire weapons that are employed to kill, maim and displace civilians in Darfur.”

Ambassador Liu is scheduled to visit Sudan next week at a time when the violence is escalating in Darfur due to renewed attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces. The visit comes on the heels of Steven Spielberg’s announcement that he will not participate as an overseas artistic advisor to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games, because China is not doing enough to end the crisis in Darfur.

“Due to China’s unique political and financial relationship with Sudan, the world will be paying close attention to Ambassador Liu’s upcoming visit to Sudan. China has a chance to improve its image by having Ambassador Liu announce that it will immediately cancel all weapons transfers to Sudan, in addition to urging the government of Sudan to support the immediate and full deployment of UNAMID, the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Anything less makes China look like an accomplice to the atrocities in Darfur,” stated Apple.

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Published on February 22, 2008

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