Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sudan: Murder made in China

The Boston Globe: There was a time when Americans worried about China because it was Communist. But times change, and today the reason to worry about China is that it is capitalist - in an especially unrestrained, unprincipled way.

Some baleful consequences of China's idolatry of pure market forces are illuminated in a new report from Amnesty International on Chinese arms exports. The report is particularly compelling because it is free of ideological or geopolitical polemics. Amnesty's purpose in disclosing Beijing's arms transfers to murderous regimes in Sudan, Myanmar, Nepal and Iran is simply to help protect the victims: to defend the universal principle of human rights.

Perhaps the worst instance of China's disregard for how buyers use its military equipment is in Darfur, Sudan. An Islamist regime in Khartoum and Arab proxies known as janjaweed have used Chinese equipment in the raiding and razing of villages in Darfur. China sold 212 military trucks last August to Sudan.

Amnesty's report contains a heart- rending account of how 168 men were seized from 10 villages in Darfur "by a large force of soldiers, military intelligence officers and janjaweed militiamen, blindfolded and taken in groups of about 40 in army trucks to an area behind a hill near Deleji village. They were ordered to lie on the ground and were shot dead."

Accounts of this kind had to be willfully ignored by Chinese officials who refuse to curtail arms sales to Sudan. Indeed, because China's state-run oil company has the largest foreign investment in Sudan's oil fields, China's willingness to help the Khartoum regime carry out a genocide in Darfur suggests more than a passive reluctance to mix commerce with morality. China seems to be acting on the premise that its drive to ensure access to oil dictates indifference to Sudan's annihilation of hundreds of thousands of human beings.

What should be especially disturbing to Americans in the Amnesty report is an allegation that the Chinese trucks were run by engines that were sold to Sudan by a U.S. company, Cummins Inc. If this is the case, there has been an egregious failure to enforce U.S. sanctions on Sudan.

With more than $1 billion in arms exports, China is the sole major arms exporter that has not entered into any multilateral agreements prohibiting arms transfers to regimes likely to use them in severe human rights abuse. As long as Beijing refuses to do so, the post-Tiananmen U.S. and European Union sanctions on arms sales to China should remain in place. And, as Amnesty recommends, all the nations of the world should join an arms trade treaty embodying the principles of international humanitarian law.

Say NO to the 2008 Olympics!

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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