9-15-2011By Crimes Against Humanity Program
Human Rights First
On September 14, General Carter Ham, commander of Africa Command, stated that he had no problem with Chinese weapons and aircraft sales to African nations because he “didn’t see that as a military competition between us and China.” Unfortunately, Gen. Ham also failed to see that Chinese weapons proliferation enable widespread atrocities across Africa and carry with them tremendous human costs.
The AFRICOM leader made his statements despite documentation that Chinese weapons enabled violence against civilians in Libya and Zimbabwe and help perpetuate atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and other parts of the continent. While weapons used against civilians are manufactured in a variety of places, lax export laws and enforcement thereof by the Chinese government, as well as Chinese companies’ (many state-owned) willingness to sell arms to just about anyone, mean that Chinese-made arms abound in many conflict-torn states.
General Ham should clarify his comments on Chinese weapons and clearly stress the importance of restricting the access that violent groups and vicious governments have to the Chinese military equipment. He and other military leaders must be careful about how they characterize arms sales to governments which brutally repress its citizens, and they should work with U.S. officials to do more to place pressure on the supply chains, such as arms sales, that enable atrocities.
Follow us on Twitter.