BBC’s Panorama TV crew claims to have uncovered the first evidence that China is providing military aid to Sudan’s Darfur counter-insurgency operations, in violation of an international embargo. The crew, traveling deep in Darfur’s desert with a rebel faction, reportedly found a Chinese Dong Feng army trucks the insurgents had captured from government forces. Plates on one truck show it was imported after the embargo. Rebels also told the crew that China was training Sudanese fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur. (BBC, July 13)
China’s response was harsh, but actually fell short of an outright denial. “The program is strongly biased,” Liu Guijin, China’s special envoy for Darfur, said. China has never violated the UN embargo, he said. “China’s arms sales were very small in scale and never made to non-sovereign entities. We have strict end-user certificates.” (China Daily, July 15)
The revelation comes as the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has filed charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and formally requested a warrant for his arrest. Bashir faces ten charges related to the campaign of murder, rape and forced deportation against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa peoples in Darfur. (VOA, National Post, July 14)
At a defiant pro-Bashir rally in Khartoum, the ruling National Congress Party warned of “more violence and blood” in Darfur if an arrest warrant is issued. (AP, July 15) Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, speaking on behalf of the African Union chair President Jakaya Kikwete, told AFP: “If Beshir is indicted and taken, there will be a power vacuum in the Sudan and that risks military coups and widespread anarchy reminiscent of what is happening in Iraq.” (AFP, July 15) The joint AU-UN mission in Sudan (UNAMID) has announced the “indefinite suspension” of its activities in the wake of the arrest order. (AGI, July 14)
See our last posts on Darfur, the Sahel, China and China in Africa.