Tony Leon protests to Chinese Ambassador

South Africa's Democratic Allaiance spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, Tony Leon, has written in protest to China's Ambassador to South Africa regarding China's sale of arms to Zimbabwe. He says:

“In light of reports that a second shipment of weapons from China is destined for delivery to Zimbabwe within the next week – this time being flown from the People’s Republic directly into Harare – I have written today to the Chinese ambassador to South Africa, Mr. Liu Guijin, to request that his government halt all weapons shipments to Zimbabwe, until the crisis in that country is resolved and a legitimate government is in place.

“In my letter I have emphasised how damaging Beijing’s support for the dictatorial rule of President Mugabe is to China’s international standing and reputation. To supply arms to a government that has demonstrated no respect for the democratic will of its people and is guilty of violently repressing its citizens only lends weight to the impression that China is not serious about protecting human rights either at home or abroad.

“This unfavourable impression is something that China can ill afford given the justifiable international outrage that has accompanied its recent brutal crackdown on dissent in Tibet. This has already resulted in the Olympic torch relay being undermined by protests throughout the world, and the threat remains of a boycott by some countries of the Olympic Games due to be held in Beijing held later this year. If China continues to send arms to Zimbabwe then there is every chance that the international criticism of its human rights record will reach a crescendo and that the Olympics will be further disrupted.

“There is no doubt that increased Chinese investment in Africa has bought with it enormous economic benefits for both the continent and South Africa, however with these opportunities comes a great deal of responsibility.

“If China does not act swiftly to stop these weapons shipments to Zimbabwe then we can only conclude that it does not take its responsibility as a major world power seriously”.

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