News / Asia

China Unaware Arms Dealers Met With Gadhafi Representatives

An anti-Gaddafi fighter stands on an SA-5 SAM missile in Burkan air defense military base, which was destroyed by a NATO air strike in August, 2011.
An anti-Gaddafi fighter stands on an SA-5 SAM missile in Burkan air defense military base, which was destroyed by a NATO air strike in August, 2011.

A Chinese government spokeswoman is acknowledging that officials representing Moammar Gadhafi met with Chinese arms dealers during a trip to Beijing in July.

But she said Monday the Chinese government did not know about the meetings and no deals were made. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. (file photo)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. (file photo)
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing now knows about the meetings in July between Gadhafi representatives and Chinese businesses.

Jiang says the meetings took place without the knowledge of what she described as the relevant Chinese government departments. She adds that Chinese companies did not sign any trade contracts to provide any military exports to Libya.

A Canadian newspaper first reported on the meetings Sunday. The Globe and Mail published Arabic-language documents found inside Libya that appear to show Chinese companies offered to sell $200 million worth of arms. Such weapons sales would have violated United Nations sanctions on Libya.

The Chinese spokeswoman stressed that China has adopted what she described as a “cautiously responsible” attitude toward military exports to Libya, in accordance with the arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

Jiang says China maintains strict management over all military exports. She says authorities responsible for military exports take this matter very seriously, but she did not indicate whether there would be any investigation of the meetings.

When asked if the latest developments would negatively affect China’s relations with the National Transitional Council that now controls most of Libya, Jiang repeated that Beijing values “the important status and role” of the NTC and wants to stay in close contact with it. At the same time, she said, China supports a leading role for the United Nations in Libya’s post-war reconstruction process.

China is the only one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council that has not officially recognized the NTC as Libya’s new leaders. China has invested billions of dollars in Libya's oil sector but it is not clear whether the NTC will honor all of the contracts signed by the Gadhafi government.

Earlier this year, China and Russia abstained, but did not block, a U.N. Security Council vote for a resolution authorizing NATO-led air strikes to protect Libyan civilians. But China later called for a ceasefire, saying the NATO action exceeded its U.N. mandate.

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