Chinese call back arms ship from Zimbabwe after African ports deny docking

April 23rd, 2008 - 1:59 pm ICT by amritpal  

An Yue JiangA Chinese arms ship ‘An Yue Jiang’ on its way to Zimbabwe has been called back by the Chinese shipping agency after the ship was denied docking on the African ports. On Monday, The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) had said that it will be protesting and mobilising support against a ship that was carrying Chinese arms for Zimbabwe and would not allow offloading in any of the African harbors.

While on the other hand, the Chinese officials have reacted saying that the return of the ship is a mere product trade transaction and that as a policy they do not intend to interfere in any of the importing countries’ domestic issues. This may be a potshot at the countries supporting or allowing Tibetan protests against the Beijing Olympics during the torch relay.

As per the published reports by South African newpapers, the ship is loaded with 3million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and over 3,000 mortar rounds and mortar tubes. This huge inventory was stopped from unloading at the South African ports and is now on its way to an unknown destination.

Earlier, Zambia, which chairs the Southern African Development Community group, had appealed to the regional states to stopĀ  from unloading the arms cargo as it would further the Zimbabwe’s election crisis and increase violence. Mozambique and Angola also supported and did not allow docking of the ship at any of their harbors.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said to a German radio that he had nothing against the Chinese, but he is unhappy with the way Chinese is arming up the regime with war weapons which are then being used to repress the people of Zimbabwe.

The shipping agency has said that since the container was not discharged in Durban, the next port - Luanda - is not certain. As of now, the ship is moving towards an “unknown destination”.

In Washington, the US State department has said that they had discouraged China from arming the Zimbabwe regime and had urged the regional African states not to dock the ship on any of their harbors.

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