BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday described as “inappropriate” a United Nations report that says Chinese bullets were used in attacks on peacekeepers in Sudan’s conflict-torn Darfur region.
Diplomats said China had tried to suppress the report, which says a dozen brands of bullet casings found at sites of attacks on U.N./African Union peacekeepers in Darfur came from China. Other types were manufactured in Sudan or Israel.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the expert group that wrote the report had been “based on unconfirmed information and made irresponsible accusations”.
“This is inappropriate. We urge the specialist team to abide by the principles of being objective and responsible in carrying out its work,” Ma told a regular news briefing.
He did not give any specifics about what China objected to in the report, nor did he answer a question on whether China would delay the report as long as it continued to contain the claims about Chinese ammunition.
“China has always maintained a responsible attitude of fully, conscientiously and precisely enforcing the Security Council resolutions on Sudan,” Ma added.
China’s position as Khartoum’s top arms supplier is well known and has long been criticised by human rights activists and Western governments. Chinese companies are major investors in Sudan’s oil and China has also sent peacekeepers to Darfur.
It is not illegal to supply weapons to Sudan, but countries are required to have guarantees from the Sudanese government that the arms will not end up in Darfur.
Russia is another supplier of military hardware to Sudan.
The conflict in Darfur flared in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglecting the region. A series of cease-fires, negotiations and international campaigns has failed to end the fighting and law and order has collapsed in most of the region.
The United Nations estimates up to 300,000 people died in the humanitarian crisis after Khartoum mobilised militias to quell the revolt. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.
U.S. and other Western delegations have suggested that they would like to expand the arms embargo to cover all arms sales to Khartoum but diplomats say China would never allow that.