Last Updated: Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:18 pm (KSA) 09:18 am (GMT)

Chinese arms firms offered weapons to Qaddafi, reports reveal

According to reports, state-controlled Chinese arms companies were ready to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200 million to Qaddafi in late July. (Photo by Reuters)
According to reports, state-controlled Chinese arms companies were ready to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200 million to Qaddafi in late July. (Photo by Reuters)

China offered huge stockpiles of weapons to Muammar Qaddafi during the final months of his regime and held secret talks on shipping them through Algeria and South Africa, The Globe and Mail reported.

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

The documents do not confirm whether any military assistance was delivered, but senior members of Tripoli’s new ruling council say they reinforce their suspicions about the recent actions of China, Algeria and South Africa, the report said on Sunday.

Algeria, China and South Africa have been reluctant to endorse NATO’s actions in Libya, the Toronto newspaper recalled.

Omar Hariri, the head of Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council’s (NTC) military committee, reviewed the documents and concluded they explained the presence of new weapons on the battlefield, The Globe and Mail said.

“I’m almost certain that these guns arrived and were used against our people,” Hariri said.

The documents were discovered in a pile of trash sitting at the curb in a neighborhood known as Bab Akkarah, where several of Colonel Qaddafi’s most loyal supporters had homes.

They showed that Qaddafi’s top security aides made a trip to Beijing in mid-July, where they met with officials from China North Industries Corp.; the China National Precision Machinery Import & Export Corp.; 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 hosts thanked the Libyans for their discretion, emphasized the need for confidentiality, and recommended delivery via third parties, it added.

The Chinese companies also noted that many of the items the Libyan team requested were already held in the arsenals of the Algerian military and could be transported immediately across the border, The Globe and Mail said.

Appendices stapled to the main memo show that the parties discussed truck-mounted rocket launchers, fuel-air explosive missiles and anti-tank missiles, among others items, the report said.

The Chinese apparently also offered Qaddafi’s men the QW-18, a surface-to-air missile, which is roughly similar to a US Stinger and is capable of bringing down military aircraft, the paper said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not publicly commented on the reports. China has often said that it scrupulously abides by UN sanctions.

Even if the arms were not delivered, or the cited documents turn out to have no foundation, the controversy could intensify mistrust between Beijing and the rebels seeking to defeat Qaddafi's shrinking forces and claim control of all Libya.

On the weekend, the head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said China had obstructed the release of more of Libya's frozen assets.

Although China agreed with other powers last week the unfreeze of $15 billion of Libyan assets abroad, it opposed handing control of more to the interim ruling council, according to rebel spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah.

Libya's interim council has promised rewards for those who took a leading role in backing the revolt against Qaddafi, and that has raised concerns that China could be disadvantaged.

China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer, and last year it obtained 3 percent of its imported crude from Libya.

China did not use its UN Security Council veto power in March to block a resolution that authorized the NATO bombing campaign against Qaddafi's forces, but it condemned the expanding strikes and repeatedly urged compromise between his government and rebels.

Beijing had since courted Libyan rebel leaders, and has urged a “stable transition of power”.

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