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China arms sales abet violence, group says

Amnesty cites Sudan, Nepal, and Burma

BEIJING -- China's sales of military vehicles and weapons to Sudan, Nepal, and Burma have aggravated conflicts and abetted violence and repressive rule in those countries, Amnesty International said in a report released yesterday.

The London-based rights group's report sheds light on an area of Chinese foreign policy its government doesn't disclose: assistance to regimes embroiled in internal conflicts and often shunned by the West.

In particular, the report said China shipped hundreds of military trucks to Sudan and the Burmese military, and rifles and grenades to Nepal's security forces.

``China has used the phrase `cautious and responsible' to describe its arms export licensing; however, its record of trading arms in conflict-ridden countries like Sudan and Myanmar show their actions are anything but," Colby Goodman of Amnesty International's arms control campaign said in a statement. Myanmar is the name given to Burma by the country's military rulers.

A duty officer in the spokesman's office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry who refused to give his name said yesterday that the ministry would look into the assertion but had no immediate comment.

China rarely confirms sales of weapons and military equipment abroad, a secrecy that is compounding US concerns about how Beijing is using its rapidly rising economic and diplomatic power. Senior Bush administration officials have publicly taken China to task for a robust military buildup at home and a lack of transparency in its defense policies.

The Amnesty report said a UN investigation in August showed China shipped more than 200 military trucks to Sudan, where large-scale violence in the Darfur region has claimed at least 180,000 lives and forced more than 2 million people from their homes since 2003.

The trucks were exported by Hubei Dong Feng Motor Industry Import and Export Co., based in the central Chinese province of Hubei, Amnesty said.

Amnesty also expressed concern that a US company may be involved. The report said the model of military trucks exported by Hubei Dong Feng Motor Industry Import and Export Co. to Sudan probably were fitted with engines manufactured by Cummins Inc., a maker of diesel engines with several ventures in China.

In a letter Amnesty provided to the Associated Press, Cummins said that particular truck model was powered by engines produced by a joint venture between Cummins and a Chinese company.

Cummins was unaware that its engines would be installed in vehicles to be sold to Sudan for military use, the company's president of engine business, Jim Kelly, said in the letter.

China also regularly supplied Burma's military junta with equipment, the report said .

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