By Graeme Smith, Globe and Mail, Septemerb 2, 2011
China offered huge stockpiles of weapons to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi during the final months of his regime, according to papers that describe secret talks about shipments via Algeria and South Africa.
Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show that state-controlled Chinese arms manufacturers were prepared to sell weapons and ammunition worth at least $200-million to the embattled Col. Gadhafi in late July, a violation of United Nations sanctions.
The documents suggest 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.
Omar Hariri, chief of the transitional council’s military committee, reviewed the documents and concluded that they explain the presence of brand-new weapons his men encountered on the battlefield. He 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,” Mr. Hariri said.
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 Globe and Mail found identical letterhead in the Tripoli offices of that department. The memo was discovered in a pile of trash sitting at the curb in a neighbourhood known as Bab Akkarah, where several of Col. Gadhafi’s most loyal supporters had lavish homes....
Now that Col. Gadhafi has lost power, the Chinese appear to fear, with some justification, that they could lose their foothold in the Libyan oil fields.
“Oil is a basis for war, and oil was the fundamental interest behind the war,” wrote the Chinese media group Caixin in a recent commentary.
A senior official at the Arabian Gulf Oil Co., in Benghazi, told The Globe and Mail last month that he would be reluctant to do business with Chinese companies in future because of their government’s stand against the rebellion.
A reading of Kissinger's recent book, On China, reveals a historic tradition of playing off both the former Soviet Union and the U.S. in order to preserve China's security from a large military conflict. If they opened relations with the U.S., they believed, that would frighten the Russian bear, yet while they were in talks with the U.S., they were also shadow-boxing with the Russians on the borders. For a long time, prior to the opening of relations with the U.S. under Nixon, prepared by Kissinger, the Chinese rejected a build-up of their military arsenal, preferring to "seduce the barbarians" through several ploys all determined to break the patience of the 'barbarians' who might threaten China's independence and isolation, while the Chinese used their diplomatic skills to frustrate whatever claims the barbarians were making to, for example, establish diplomatic missions in China. After lengthy seductions from the Chinese, while merely resisting the overtures of the various western countries, the representatives from those countries would depart, empty-handed, to report 'no progress' on their respective missions to the Chinese Empire.
Kissinger uses the Chinese board game, wei qi (way chee), to depict the Chinese tradition. Over 19 rows of play, each player is allotted many tokens with which to "surround" the tokens of his competitor. There is never an outright "strike" and capture as in the western game of chess but rather when one players tokens have been more surrounded than his opponent, he is declared the winner, even if the degree of "being surrounded" is only slightly more than the reverse.
Playing a double game of supporting the UN resolution to protect the citizens of Libya against their long-term dictator, while at the same time selling arms through Algieria and/or South Africa to the dictator, if true, will serve as a red rocket to the rest of the world that China, who jus this week tested a new fighter jet, has abandoned its refusal to develop a military arsenal and has jumped headlong into the hard power game of advanced weaponry, to complement its long tradition of duplicity....making the world even more dangerous.