News / Asia

China to Review Arms Sale Policy After Libya Embarrassment

China said Tuesday that officials will examine whether regulations were violated by arms manufacturers who met in July with envoys from Moammar Gadhafi's then-ruling Libyan government.

Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Wednesday the government will strengthen its oversight of military exports.

"Our line of communication with the NTC is smooth, and the instability in Libya is temporary, but our further relations with Libya are long-term and we continue to stay in close contact with Libya to promote the steady development of bilateral relations."

She also said relations with the rebel-led provisional government are "smooth" and that China will recognize the National Transitional Council when the time is "ripe." She did not say when that will be.

China acknowledged a day earlier that aides to Mr. Gadhafi had been in Beijing
seeking to buy sophisticated weapons for use against the advancing rebel forces. Documents discovered in Tripoli by a Canadian newspaper indicated that Chinese arms companies offered to sell the Libyans about $200 million worth of weapons.

Jiang maintained for a second day that no weapons were shipped to Libya and that China has fully respected a U.N. embargo on arms sales to the Gadhafi government.

"As for the matter of the issue of an investigation, I think that competent authorities for military trade will take this matter seriously, in accordance with the relevant regulations."

She said authorities responsible for the regulation of military trade will look seriously at any promises made by individuals at the Chinese arms companies.

Members of the NTC have said that Chinese commercial interests could be damaged if state-owned Chinese companies did ship arms to the Gadhafi government. China has billions of dollars invested in Libya's oil sector and had more than 35,000 people working there when the anti-Gadhafi revolt began.

"We hope Libya will honor its existing contracts, China’s existing contracts with Libya, and protect the safety of China’s interests in Libya," Jiang added. "And we will make due contribution to Libya’s post-war reconstruction process."

Jiang said China will contribute to Libya's reconstruction and hopes that the NTC will honor China's contracts there.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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