A member of the Royal Thai Marines, demonstrating usage of the Chinese-made Qianwei-18 portable anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile.
Using one of the first info-gathering strategies taught in journalism schools, Graeme Smith of The Globe and Mail discovered documents hiding in a pile of street trash in the Bab Akkarah neighborhood of Tripoli, which allegedly detail China’s recent offer to sell arms to Col. Gaddhafi, in violation of UN sanctions.
One memo in question reportedly reveals that Gaddhafi’s security officials were in Beijing on July 16th, and that Chinese state-owned arms companies offered to sell $200 million USD worth of antitank missiles, QW-18 anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles and rocket launchers, among other weapons.
The companies mentioned include Beijing’s China North Industries Corp. (Norinco), the China National Precision Machinery Import & Export Corp. (CPMIEC), and China XinXing Import & Export Corp. The Globe and Mail reports that the companies offered the entire catalogue of their stockpiles for sale, and also promised to manufacture new stock if necessary.
The accusations are reportedly corroborated by the appearance of new weapons that were previously unseen on the battlefield in Libya:
Omar Hariri, chief of the transitional council’s military committee, reviewed the documents and concluded that they explain the presence of brand-new weapons his men encountered on the battlefield. He expressed outrage that the Chinese were negotiating an arms deal even while his forces suffered heavy casualties in the slow grind toward Tripoli.
“I’m almost certain that these guns arrived and were used against our people,” Mr. Hariri said.
The weapons were to have been delivered with the help of third-party countries such as Algeria and South Africa, who, along with China, opposed the UN authorization on the usage of NATO forces in Libya. A spokesman for the Libyan rebels has claimed that any government who worked with the Gaddhafi government would likely have ruined their future business (and oil) guanxi with the new government.
So it looks like the Chinese government might’ve been actively trying to keep its business interests intact. Sure there’s the whole China-supports-whoever-the-West-gangs-up-on theory, since NATO-backed Regime Change totally gives Chinese leaders the creeps. But to us, it’s conceivable that the government was simply interested in keeping a Pahlavi-like dictator in power who could guarantee regular oil shipments.
Backing your regular supplier/dealer against an unpredictable rabble who might not want to play ball? Guaranteeing access to an entire weapons catalogue and promising more shipments, and delivery through a go-between if necessary? Sounds like Chinese business ethics at its best.
We’re betting that there’ll soon be talk of the accusatory document being a forgery, and that ‘Don’t be too Globe and Mail’ becomes the hot new meme.