China has been exporting conventional weapons properly in accordance with international rules, which is reasonable, legal and unimpeachable, a Chinese expert said on Monday.
Teng Jianqun, a researcher with the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told Xinhua that China has always put its limited arms export under strict control and surveillance, denouncing Amnesty International's slams on China's arms trade as irresponsible and groundless.
The human rights group released a report on Sunday, accusing China of involvement in regional conflicts and human rights violations through the export of large quantities of weaponry to Sudan, Nepal, Myanmar and the Great Lakes countries of Africa.
"The charge comes out of nowhere, as China always abides by international conventions and imposes rigid self-control in terms of arms export and transfer of military technologies," Teng said.
He noted that China adheres to three principles in arms trade: it should help enhance the self-defense capability of import countries; should not impair regional and global peace; security and stability; and should not be used to interfere with other countries' internal affairs.
"China's attitude has been widely applauded in the world, and its weaponry sales haven't jeopardized regional peace or caused any human rights disasters," he said.
As one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, arms trade plays an important role in ensuring economic profits and sustaining the military industry in many countries.
Therefore, many countries capable of producing and exporting weapons will scramble for bigger market shares in one way or another. "But China exports the least weaponry among the major countries," Teng said.
Statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute show that from 2000 to 2004, arms export by the United States was estimated at US$25.9 billion. Weaponry exported by China during the same period was valued at US$1.4 billion, only five percent that of the US.
Teng said that China wasn't engaged in arms trade until the 1980s, but has kept its sales under control.
"According to the United Nations Conventional Arms Register, China sells much less conventional weaponry to other countries than the US, Russia, Britain, France and Germany," he said.
Illegal trafficking and excessive stores of small weapons threaten peace and stability in many countries and regions. These weapons were used in 47 out of 49 major atrocious conflicts worldwide in the 1990s, claiming up to 500,000 lives every year, 80 percent of whom were women and children.
This is why China is particularly careful with its arms export business and has issued a series of laws and regulations to supervise the production, storage, transport, trade, use and takeover of small weapons, Teng said.
China promulgated the Law on Control of Guns in July 1996, issued regulations on Administration of Arms Export in October 1997, and started amending relevant regulations from October 2002.
According to the regulations, only licensed enterprises can trade arms. Further, their export items and contracts must be checked by the relevant official departments. Weaponry producers should offer valid certificates from import countries, including those from end users.
Those who violate the regulations face possible criminal punishment, Teng said.
"The report rebuked irresponsibly China's arms suppliers for their defiance of related laws and regulations," Teng said.
Small weaponry companies in China have detailed records of every facet of their business, from production to sales.
Arms made in China are clearly marked with type, batch, production date and manufacturer to ensure that the government is able to identify and trace each small weapon. There is also a system that identifies end users of exported arms, so as to prevent weaponry from entering politically unstable areas.
"I cannot say there are no loopholes at all, but certainly far fewer compared with some western countries like the US," Teng said, adding that the number of loopholes here are actually negligible.
"The principles and actions China adopts in arms trade not only facilitate global peace and regional stability, but also promote the healthy development of arms control and disarmament in the world," Teng said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 13, 2006)