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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 06:23 GMT
China defends arms sales to Sudan
Sudanese Janjaweed in western Darfur region (April 2004)
At least 200,000 people have died in five years of conflict in Darfur
China has defended its sale of weapons to Sudan, amid growing criticism of its alleged failure to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

China's special envoy on Darfur told the BBC that Beijing accounted for just 8% of Sudan's total arms imports.

Liu Guijin said the US, Russia and UK were the biggest arms exporters to developing countries including Sudan.

About 200,000 have died in the five years of conflict between rebels, the army and pro-Khartoum militias.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC's China analyst Shirong Chen, Mr Liu said Chinese weapons were not fuelling the conflict.

"Sudan is the third largest conventional arms producer in Africa next only to South Africa and Egypt.

"And there are seven countries selling arms to Sudan. So even if China stopped its sale, it still won't solve the problem of arms in Sudan," he said.

Territorial integrity

Mr Liu, who is currently in the UK, is expected to travel to Sudan as part of an apparent diplomatic push to counter international criticism over Darfur.

He told the BBC that he would advise Sudan to co-operate on the deployment of a UN-African Union force.

The UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur, Unamid, began deploying in January but the force still lacks most of the 26,000 personnel planned for the mission.

China has strong trade and military links with Sudan, which is accused of backing militias that have raped and murdered in Darfur.

Critics say Beijing should use these links to pressure Khartoum on this issue. China says it is already doing all it can.

Mr Liu said that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China had been asked to help find a long-term solution to the Darfur issue, but that it had done so with respect for Sudan's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

It was during China's tenure of presidency at the council that a controversial precondition was passed that Sudan must give its approval to the deployment of the Unamid force.

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