Posted by: sean | April 21, 2008

Chinese arms to Zimbabwe

Here’s another example of how China is helping out Africa:

A Chinese ship loaded with armaments for Zimbabwe steamed into the port of Durban this week and set off a political firefight, putting newfound pressure on South Africa — and now China — to reduce support for Zimbabwe’s government as it cracks down on its rivals after a disputed election.

The arms shipment was ordered from China before the elections, but its arrival amid Zimbabwe’s political crisis illuminated deep fissures within South Africa over how to respond, and brought new scrutiny on China at a time when its human rights record is already under fire for suppressing protesters in Tibet and supplying arms to the government of Sudan.

Both China and South Africa have some accounting to do as far as Zimbabwe is concerned. Kudos, though, go to the South African dock workers who refused to unload the shipment. And despite her misuse of the term “genocide,” Helen Zille, leader of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, does well to remind us that, as the Guardian puts it, “a consignment of Chinese machetes had prefaced the genocide in Rwanda. After all, 77 tons of weapons can be used to kill a lot of people.

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