updated 6/11/2006 8:19:16 PM ET 2006-06-12T00:19:16

China’s sales of military vehicles and weapons to Sudan, Nepal and Myanmar have aggravated conflicts and abetted violence and repressive rule in those countries, Amnesty International said in a report released Sunday.

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

In particular, the report said China had shipped hundreds of military trucks to Sudan and the Myanmar 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 prepared statement.

A duty officer in the spokesman’s office of China’s Foreign Ministry who refused to give his name said Sunday they would look into the assertion but had no immediate comment.

Beijing secrecy deepens U.S. concerns
China rarely confirms sales of weapons and military equipment abroad, a secrecy that is compounding U.S. concerns about how Beijing is using its rapidly rising economic and diplomatic power abroad.

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 U.N. investigation in August 2005 showed China shipped more than 200 military trucks to Sudan, where large-scale violence in the Darfur region has claimed nearly 200,000 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., a company based in the central Chinese province of Hubei, Amnesty said.

American manufacturer involved?
Amnesty also expressed concern that an American 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 were likely fitted with engines manufactured by Cummins Inc., a Columbus, Indiana-based 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.

While the Amnesty statement did not say exactly how that batch of trucks was being used in Sudan, the rights group said that in 2004 when massacres were widespread in Darfur, the Sudanese military and Arab militias known as Janjaweed traveled in military trucks. In some cases, the trucks also transported people for executions, the report said.

Report: China aided Myanmar junta
China was also regularly supplying Myanmar’s military junta with equipment despite the military’s involvement in the “torture, killing and forced eviction of hundreds of thousands of civilians,” Amnesty said. That includes an August 2005 shipment of 400 army trucks.

The military in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma, has been in power since 1962. The current junta came to power in 1988 after brutally crushing a pro-democracy movement. In April, Myanmar troops uprooted more than 11,000 ethnic minority civilians, often employing torture, killings and the burning of villages, according to reports from inside Burma.

China also exported nearly 25,000 Chinese-made rifles and 18,000 grenades to Nepal’s security forces early this year, who were at the time fighting thousands of anti-monarchy demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition, the statement said.

Amnesty also said illicit trade in Chinese-made pistols in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and particularly, South Africa, was growing. The pistols are commonly used for robbery, rape and other crimes in South Africa, the statement said.

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