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Sunday, June 11, 2006

China arms sales 'fuel conflicts'

BBC: The human rights organisation Amnesty International has accused China of being of the world's most secretive and irresponsible arms exporters.

In a report, it says Chinese weapons have helped to fuel conflicts such as those in Sudan, Nepal and Burma.

Amnesty is urging China to publish information on its arms exports.

The authorities in Beijing have long insisted that they have strict safeguards in place to prevent any unethical arms sales.

Amnesty International challenges this idea in the report.

"China describes its approach to arms export licensing as 'cautious and responsible', yet the reality couldn't be further from the truth," the author's report, Helen Hughes, said in a statement.

We're calling for China to enact commitments banning all arms transfers where they are likely to be used for human rights violations
Helen Hughes

Amnesty International
"China is the only major arms exporting power that has not signed up to any multilateral agreements with criteria to prevent arms exports likely to be used for serious human rights violations," she added.

The report alleges that Beijing shipped 200 Chinese military trucks to Sudan and supplying the ruling junta in Burma with weapons.

It also accuses China of selling rifles and grenades to the Nepalese security forces at a time when there was a mass uprising against the monarchy by civilians.


The report says China exports more than $1bn worth of weapons a year, often exchanging arms for raw materials needed to fuel its economy.

Amnesty urges China to change its current practices to be more transparent and to support the international initiative for an arms trade treaty.

"We're calling for China to enact into law and uphold commitments ... banning all arms transfers where they are likely to be used for human rights violations," Ms Hughes said.

China has yet to respond to the report, but has long said it had a careful approach to weapons sales, only issuing licences after examining each application individually.
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