06/14/2006, 00.00
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King Gyanendra's government as well as Maoist rebels bought weapons from China

by Prakash Dubey
Maoist rebels have the latest in military hardware which they paid for by trafficking in marijuana and exotic animals as well as extortions.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – In a report released last Sunday, Amnesty International reveals that between last year and the first few months of this year, the People's Republic of China sold some 25,000 Chinese-made rifles and 18,000 grenades to King Gyanendra's autocratic government.

The study explicitly says that "China is fast emerging as one of the world's biggest, most secretive and irresponsible arms exporters," with arms sales worth about one billion dollars US per year to countries like Sudan, Nepal and Myanmar.

Sushil Sashank, a social-political analyst, told AsiaNews that he was certain that China sold weapons to Maoist rebels as well as the Nepali government.

"The Maoist insurgency began in 1996 and in the past decade the Maoist 'People's Army' was equipped with highly sophisticated weapons including anti-aircraft guns. These weapons are not made in Nepal," he said. "It is obvious that they could come from India, but in reality they are imported from China. The Chinese and their government have always been the best of traders, in all fields, and their main goal is making money".

For Sashank the Maoists are involved in a lucrative albeit illegal trade that runs from extortion to trafficking in marijuana and animals. "They have lots of money to buy weapons," he noted.

"Officially China considers these Maoists terrorists who besmirch the name of Mao," Pramod Bihari Singh, chairman of the Indo-Nepal Friendship Association, told AsiaNews.

"But the truth is that China has always supported the Maoists knowing that they are force that can be influenced. For instance, looking at the Maoists' statements, we see they are full of accusations against India for its 'expansionism' and the United States for its 'imperialism' in spite of the fundamental role the two countries played for the return of democracy in Nepal," he explained. "By contrast, they have never condemned China even though it openly backed King Gyanendra's regime."

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