China says BBC’s Darfur report ’strongly biased’

July 15th, 2008 - 1:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 15 (DPA) A BBC television report alleging that China violated a UN embargo by selling arms used by the Sudanese government in its embattled Darfur region was “strongly biased,” China’s envoy to the region said in a report published Tuesday. “The programme is strongly biased,” the official China Daily quoted Liu Guijin, China’s special envoy for Darfur, as commenting on the BBC report broadcast Monday.

Liu denied that China had violated the UN arms embargo on Darfur, accusing the BBC of making the report out of “ulterior motives,” the newspaper said.

The BBC said earlier on its website that it “found the first evidence that China is currently helping Sudan’s government militarily in Darfur.”

It said it had “tracked down Chinese army lorries in the Sudanese province that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan in 2005.”

“The BBC was also told that China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur,” it said.

But Liu said China was “not a major arms’ supplier to Sudan,” citing a report in March by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which said China accounted for only 8 percent of Sudan’s arms imports from 2003 to 2007.

“China’s arms sales were very small in scale and never made to non-sovereign entities,” he was quoted as saying. “A few shots of Chinese trucks in Darfur cannot be used to accuse China of fuelling the conflict in Darfur.”

Liu said a minister from an unnamed African country had told him that the conflict in Darfur had dragged on mainly because Western nations supplied the rebels with arms that were “more advanced than the ones being used by government forces.”

In an unrelated statement issued Friday, the US-based Dream for Darfur urged China to use its “unrivalled influence” to bring security to Darfur.

“China can immediately demand that the Sudanese regime stop killing its own unarmed citizens and insist that Sudan stop obstructing the full UN force from deploying,” Jill Savitt, the executive director of Dream for Darfur, said in the statement.

Dream for Darfur has previously said it was likely to stage some form of protest in Beijing during next month’s Olympic Games.

Some analysts believe China has slightly softened its line on Sudan under international pressure.

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