Conflict & Justice

China offered $200 million in arms to Gaddafi

CHINA offered to sell at least $200 million worth of arms to Muammar al-Gaddafi's regime in its final weeks, against U.N. sanctions, according to a Canadian newspaper which has obtained secret documents.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Sunday that Beijing offered huge stockpiles of rocket launchers, anti-tank missiles and portable surface-to-air missiles, to Gaddafi during the final months of his regime and held secret talks on shipping them through Algeria and South Africa, AFP reports.

Graeme Smith, a reporter for The Globe and Mail, said that the documents his newspaper posted were found by him in the trash in the Bab Akkarah neighborhood, where many Gaddafi regime officials lived, the New York Times reports.

They were on the green letterhead of a government procurement department, it reports.

However, China has denied any such plan.

"Chinese companies have not provided military products to Libya in any direct or indirect form," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told journalists.

AFP reports:

The Canadian daily said state-controlled Chinese arms companies were ready to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200 million to Kadhafi in late July, despite UN sanctions, citing secret documents it had obtained.

The documents, published on the paper's website, do not confirm whether any military assistance was delivered.

They showed that Gaddafi's top security aides made a trip to Beijing in mid-July, where they met officials from China North Industries Corp. (Norinco); the China National Precision Machinery Import & Export Corp. (CPMIC); and China XinXing Import & Export Corp.

The Chinese companies offered the entire contents of their stockpiles for sale, and promised to manufacture more supplies if necessary, The Globe and Mail said.

Representatives of Gaddafi's regime visited China on July 16 and visited three state-owned weapons manufacturers, AFP reports.

China has opposed the NATO military intervention in Libya but had agreed to an earlier United Nations resolution of a weapons embargo.

Omar Hariri, head of the Transitional National Council's military committee, told the Canadian newspaper that the documents explained the presence of brand-new weapons his men had encountered on the battlefield, the Sun Herald reports.

The documents, which were in Arabic, include a memo from Libyan security officials about a shopping trip to Beijing on July 16, and appear to show that state-controlled Chinese arms companies offered to sell $200 million worth of weapons, the New York Times reports.

A rebel military spokesman, Abdulrahman Busin, said the transitional government would seek accountability through appropriate international channels.

Busin said that any country that had violated the sanctions would have poor prospects for business and other dealings with Libya, an oil-rich country, the New York Times reports.

“We have hard evidence of deals going on between China and Gaddafi, and we have all the documents to prove it,” he said, adding that the rebels have other evidence, including documents and weapons found on the battlefield, showing that arms were supplied illegally to Colonel Gaddafi’s forces by numerous other governments or companies.

“I can think of at least 10 off the top of my head,” he said.

A senior NATO diplomat in Brussels discounted the report as highly unlikely, but said he was not familiar with the documents cited in the article, the New York Times reports.