News / Asia

    China Arms Meeting With Gadhafi Officials Raises Questions

    Beijing's admission last week that Chinese defense companies met with representatives of Moammar Gadhafi as recently as July to discuss a possible arms deal has raised questions about the kind of military support China supplied Libya's former ruler.  

    China denies that any contracts were signed at the July meeting in Beijing and says no weapons were exported to Libya as a result of the meeting.  It also says it was unaware at the time that the meeting had taken place.

    If Chinese companies did export weapons, it would be a violation of United Nations sanctions put in place earlier this year.

    Analyst Richard Fisher at the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center says he was surprised that Beijing admitted the meeting took place and that Chinese defense companies had even considered getting involved in the Libyan civil war. “We rarely, if ever, get even a partial admission of guilt from a Chinese government spokesman.  Their first rule is to deny everything and the government spokesman again, after about 24 hours of delay, initially denying, coming out and admitting that there was at least contact with Libyan government officials," he said.

    Fisher says China’s admission appears to be an attempt to appeal to both sides in the Libyan conflict. “An outright denial would have simply inflamed their deteriorating position in Libya.  So they decided not to deny.  But in admitting a mistake partially, they have also opened the door to many other questions," he said.

    China only recently recognized Libya’s National Transitional Council, or NTC, and the allegations about a possible arms deal to help pro-Gadhafi forces have complicated its position in the country, where it has oil and infrastructure contracts.

    China’s presence in Libya was so massive that when the Libyan conflict began, Beijing dispatched a naval frigate to help some 30,000 Chinese evacuate from Libya.

    Details of the July meeting surfaced recently when a reporter for the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, found documents in a Tripoli neighborhood that talked about how Chinese defense companies had tried to sell weapons and munitions to Moammar Gadhafi's forces.  The documents did not say whether the materiel was delivered.

    Officials with the NTC say they were aware of China’s involvement, even before the documents surfaced and plan to take legal action.

    In an interview with the Reuters news agency last week, Libya's military spokesman, Abdulrahman Busin, said the NTC has hard evidence that Moammar Gadhafi bought arms from China and countries in Eastern Europe in defiance of U.N. sanctions. "A lot of it was done through a middleman.  This subject has not just come up just now.  We have been pursuing it for some time now.  And the documents that have come up have only hardened our case that we have been building over the last few months," he said.

    Busin said that according to the documents, the "middleman" was Algeria, a country with which China has close military ties.  He also said there is clear evidence that China knew the final destination for the arms was Libya.

    Prior to the imposition of U.N. sanctions earlier this year, and before Libya's civil war began, Libya’s defense ministry was being courted by many countries that wanted to supply it with weapons.  More than 100 companies from at least 24 countries participated in the Libyan Defense Expo late last year.  More than half of those companies were British.

    Chinese defense companies were among those present, including those named in the documents that were found earlier this month, according to military analysts.

    Pieter Wezeman is a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute who specializes in arms transfers to the Middle East and North Africa. “It's quite sure that China would try to sell all types of equipment, anything from small arms to armored vehicles to combat aircraft as they would elsewhere too, and as other countries have tried to do.  However, very little is known about what China actually delivered," he said.

    Wezeman adds that as more information surfaces, it should become clearer what role China might have played in arming Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. "From what I have seen, from the images I have seen, there have been many other types of weapons from, again, a whole range of countries.  I’ve seen Belgian rifles; I’ve seen Russian rifles.  We know that there have been considerable numbers of Ukrainian rifles, just to mention a few examples," he said.

    Analyst Richard Fisher says Chinese weapons played a role in the conflict. “A casual review of imagery of the fighting since the civil war began indicates quite clearly that both sides in the conflict were using Chinese weapons.  Both sides were firing Chinese rocket propelled grenades at each other.  Both sides were using Chinese made pickup trucks to carry large machine guns or mortars for use against each other," he said.

    U.S. officials say they have not seen anything that contradicts China’s position that no arms were sold.  Speaking in Washington at a meeting sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor newspaper, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said this week that China has told the United States that it plans to "strengthen internal controls" to ensure that meetings such as those in July do not occur again.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora