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China rejects BBC Darfur claims

Chinese-built Dong Feng truck filmed by BBC Panorama inside Darfur in April 2008
The BBC says it found Chinese-made trucks in Darfur

China says a BBC documentary accusing Beijing of fuelling the war in Darfur by supplying military equipment and training to Sudan is "strongly biased".

On Monday, the BBC's Panorama programme revealed evidence that China had sent military trucks to Sudan, which were used in attacks on civilians in Darfur.

It also said China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 jets there.

But China's special envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, says his country has never violated a UN ban on arms to Darfur.

The UN embargo requires foreign nations to take measures to ensure they do not militarily assist anyone in the conflict in Darfur, in which the UN estimates about 300,000 people have died.

More than two million people are also believed to have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

'West to blame'

The Panorama report came on the same day that Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir was accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

A few shots of Chinese trucks in Darfur cannot be used to accuse China of fuelling the conflict in Darfur
Liu Guijin
China's special envoy for Darfur

On Tuesday, Beijing hit back at the allegations in the BBC's Panorama programme in a front page article in the state-run China Daily.

"The programme is strongly biased," Mr Liu was quoted as saying.

"A few shots of Chinese trucks in Darfur cannot be used to accuse China of fuelling the conflict in Darfur," he said.

Mr Liu blamed the ongoing violence in Darfur on Western countries, saying that a minister from one African country had told him arms supplied by the West to the rebels in Darfur were dragging out the conflict.

"China's arm sales were very small in scale and never made to non-sovereign entities. We have strict end-user certificates," he added.

The envoy's comments were later reiterated by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao at a regular press briefing.

Liu Jianchao said that the BBC allegations were incorrect and unfair.

He also expressed "grave concern" about the international courts decision to seek the arrest of President Bashir.

'Empty measure'

The BBC's Panorama programme tracked down Chinese Dong Feng army lorries in Darfur that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan.

Markings on the vehicles suggested that they were from a batch of 212 Dong Feng army lorries that the UN had traced as having arrived in Sudan in 2005, after the UN arms embargo was put in place.

The lorries came straight from the factory in China to Sudan and were consigned to Sudan's defence ministry, the programme makers said.

China has said in the past that it told Sudan's government not to use Chinese military equipment in Darfur.

But Sudan's government has told the UN that it will send military equipment where it likes within its sovereign territory.

An international lawyer, Clare da Silva, said that China's point that it had taken measures in line with the arms embargo's requirements was meaningless and that the BBC's evidence put China in violation of it.

"It is an empty measure to take the assurances from a partner who clearly has no intention of abiding by the resolution," she told Panorama.




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