China slams BBC, international court over Darfur (Lead)

July 15th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, July 15 (DPA) China Tuesday voiced “grave concerns” over the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s decision to charge the Sudanese president with genocide in the embattled Darfur region, and said a BBC report alleging that China had violated a UN arms embargo on Darfur was “strongly biased.” “China has grave concerns and misgivings about the ICC’s prosecution,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

“The ICC’s actions should be helpful to the stability of the Darfur region and to finding a solution to the issue, not the contrary,” Liu told reporters.

An ICC prosecutor Monday applied for an arrest warrant against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity over the past five years in Darfur.

Liu said the Darfur issue was in a “critical and sensitive period.”

“We hope all parties can cautiously solve the issue through negotiation, and avoid adding new complicating factors,” he said.

The BBC television report alleging that China violated a UN embargo by selling arms used by the Sudanese government in Darfur was motivated by “ulterior motives,” the official China Daily Tuesday quoted Liu Guijin, China’s special envoy for Darfur, as saying.

Liu Guijin denied that China had violated the UN arms embargo on Darfur and called the BBC programme “strongly biased.”

The BBC said 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 Guijin 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 Guijin 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 a 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 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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