04/24/2008, 00.00
CHINA - ZIMBABWE

EU: China must stop selling weapons to countries under UN embargo

The accusation comes from the European parliament, which criticises European governments for being too "timid" with China. Meanwhile, a ship loaded with arms for Zimbabwe is thought to have rounded the Cape of Good Hope. It is feared that the weapons will be delivered to president Mugabe, while systematic violence is taking place in the country.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "Condemnation" from the parliament of the European Union against China, because it is courting oppressive African governments in order to obtain oil and raw materials, and, among other things, is selling weapons to Sudan, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in spite of the UN embargo.  Meanwhile, a Chinese ship has rounded the Cape of Good Hope and disappeared as it carries weapons to Zimbabwe. It has been unable to unload them because of the refusal of African port authorities.

China has said that the ship An Yue Jiang will return home with its load of munitions, rockets, and mortars (weighing 77 tonnes, according to shipping documents).  But two days ago, it was located near the Cape of Good Hope, heading northwest, and it is feared that it will make land in an African country friendly to Beijing.  In Durban (South Africa), the port authorities refused permission to land the cargo, and a tribunal barred the shipping of the arms to Zimbabwe, which has no seaport.  The United States and Zambia have asked other countries not to allow the ship to make land.  Beijing has responded that this is "normal military commerce" and that "China does not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries".

What makes the supplying of weapons more preoccupying is the situation in Zimbabwe, where, according to independent observers, in the elections of March 29 the opposition defeated the dictatorial president Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for 28 years.  But there are still no official data, and in recent days the local Churches have claimed that organised violence is taking place in the country against representatives of the opposition, and that there is the risk of "a genocide".

China has strong trade relations with oppressive governments, like Myanmar and North Korea, which often nullifies the embargos imposed by other countries or by the United Nations.  Yesterday, Strasbourg criticised, among other things, the relations that Beijing has with the government of Sudan, in spite of the genocide taking place in Darfur, and parliamentarian Ana Maria Gomes said that European governments "are often too timid, silent, and fearful over China".

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