China offered huge stockpiles of weapons to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi during the final months of his regime, according to papers that describe secret talks about shipments via Algeria and South Africa.
The Globe and Mail quoted the documents as saying that state-controlled Chinese arms manufacturers were prepared to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least 200-million dollars to the embattled Gadhafi regime in late July, a violation of United Nations sanctions.
The documents also suggested that Beijing and other governments may have played a double game in the Libyan war, claiming neutrality but covertly helping the dictator.
The papers do not confirm whether any military assistance was delivered, but senior leaders of the new transitional government in Tripoli say the documents reinforce their suspicions about the recent actions of China, Algeria and South Africa. Those countries may now suffer a disadvantage as Libya's new rulers divide the spoils from their vast energy resources, and select foreign firms for the country's reconstruction, the paper said.
After reviewing the documents, Transitional Council's Military Committee chief Omar Hariri 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," Hariri added.
Senior rebel officials confirmed the authenticity of the four-page memo, written in formal style on the green eagle letterhead used by a government department known as the Supply Authority, which deals with procurement.
The document reports in detail about a trip by Gadhafi's security officials from Tripoli to Beijing. They arrived on July 16, and in the following days they met with officials from three state-controlled weapons manufacturers: China North Industries Corp. (Norinco); the China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp. (CPMIC); and China XinXing Import and Export Corp. The Chinese companies offered the entire contents of their stockpiles for sale, and promised to manufacture more supplies if necessary, the paper said.
The hosts thanked the Libyans for their discretion, emphasized the need for confidentiality, and recommended delivery via third parties, it added.