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New memos found in Libya show that Chinese arms manufacturers may have been selling weapons to Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. That's in violation of U.N. sanctions. But now China's Foreign Ministry is denying that Chinese authorities knew about the weapons sales, even though the arms manufacturers are run by the state.
According to documents obtained by the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail Chinese weapons manufacturers were ready to sell stockpiles of weapons worth at least $200-million to Gaddafi in late July. That was at the time the Chinese regime had promised to obey U.N. sanctions against Gaddafi’s forces.
Whether the weapons were delivered remains unclear, but senior leaders of Tripoli’s new transitional government say the documents go a long way in explaining the presence of brand-new weapons their forces encountered on the battlefield.
The documents detail a July 16 trip by Gaddafi’s security officials to Beijing. They met with three state-run weapons manufacturers: China North Industries (Norinco), China National Precision Machinery Import & Export (CPMIC), and China XinXing Import & Export Corporations. Each offered their entire stockpiles for sale and promised more supplies if needed.
The weapons for sale included truck-mounted rocket launchers, fuel-air explosive missiles, anti-tank missiles, and the QW-18—a surface-to-air missile small enough for a single soldier to carry, similar to the U.S. Stinger missile.
While punishing U.N. embargo breaches is difficult, the Chinese regime may face other repercussions for supporting Gaddafi. Libya is a major oil producer. The Chinese regime had oil interests with Gaddafi and may now find itself in strained relations with Tripoli’s new government.