Burma buys bulk Chinese weaponry

Hundreds of military tanks equipped with rocket launching systems developed by China have been offloaded at a Rangoon port owned by a crony of the Burmese junta, eye-witnesses claim.

Several ships were seen delivering the cargo, which included 112 tanks, at the Ahlone port in Rangoon over five days between 4 and 8 December. The port is run by Asia World Company whose owner, Stephen Law, is close to the junta.

“The supplies were unloaded from the ship during the day but they did it by surrounding the area with stacks of containers, six or seven of them,” an eye-witnesses at the port told DVB. “At night, vehicles would arrive at the area to load the cargo and they left in a convoy with a police car leading.”

He said that armoured personnel carriers were also seen being offloaded “which were armed with machine guns or recoilless guns”. Both security guards from Asia World and Burmese army troops were manning the port.

China is Burma’s biggest weapons supplier, followed closely by India and Russia. Leaked US cables claim that Ukraine, also once a key source of weapons for the ruling junta, has ceased selling arms.

Burma has a standing army of close to 500,000, while some 40 percent of the government budget is channelled to the military. Despite widespread consensus that Burma is run by one of the world’s most repressive regimes, calls for the UN to implement an arms embargo on Burma have so far gone unheeded

According to Amnesty International, “China has not regularly reported its arms transfers [to Burma] to the United Nations”. It says these sales have included fighter jets.

As part of a mass transformation of Burmese industry earlier this year, six ports were sold to private businesses, adding to the two that Asia World already owned. The conutry’s only shipping line, the Myanma Five Star Line (MFSL), owns the 12,000-ton Magwe freighter that delivered the Chinese weaponry last week.

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