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Amnesty International Says Chinese Secret Arms Sales Stoke Conflict, Repression

The human rights group Amnesty International is accusing China of carrying out secret arms sales that it says are stoking conflict and repression in Burma, Sudan, Nepal and other nations. Chinese officials promptly denied Amnesty's accusations.

Amnesty says China is fast emerging as one of the world's biggest, most secretive and "irresponsible" arms exporters - selling repressive governments around the globe weapons and equipment used to commit atrocities.

In a new report, Amnesty says China allowed the export of more than 200 military trucks to Sudan last year - despite knowing about killings, rapes, and abductions by government armed forces there.

The report notes shipments of Chinese military equipment have continued to flow to Burma, Nepal, Africa's Great Lakes region and other places where Amnesty alleges gross human rights violations are widespread.

Amnesty says Chinese-made Norinco guns are frequently used by criminal gangs in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and South Africa.

The report's main author, Amnesty Researcher Helen Hughes, tells VOA her group is calling on China to impose clear guidelines on weapons exports.

"China, in terms of its actual controls on arms exports, doesn't make any explicit statements to respect human rights when deciding whether or not to allow arms transfers abroad," Hughes said.

Chinese officials on Monday denied accusations that their country is contributing to conflict around the globe. Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui was asked about Amnesty's allegations during a news conference on this week's summit of the Central Asian regional grouping - known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

"China and the member state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have abided strictly by relevant international conventions and have carried out their commitments," he said.

In recent years, China has tightened regulations restricting the export of weapons. However, Amnesty says the guidelines remain unclear, making enforcement difficult.

The group says another big problem is a lack of transparency. Amnesty says China does not publish information about actual transfers abroad of military, security, and police equipment - making it impossible for outside observers to verify to what extent China is abiding by its commitments to international law.

The United States has expressed similar serious concern about China's military build-up and what the Pentagon also says is a lack of transparency in Beijing's defense policies.