By Paul Danahar, BBC Asia bureau chief, Beijing, 3 September 2007-
Britain has privately complained to Beijing that Chinese-made weapons are being used by the Taleban to attack British troops in Afghanistan.
The BBC has been told that on several occasions Chinese arms have been recovered after attacks on British and American troops by Afghan insurgents.
The authorities in Beijing have promised to carry out an investigation.
This appears to be the first time Britain has asked China how its arms are ending up with the Taleban.
At a meeting held recently at the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, a British official expressed the UK’s growing concern about the incidents.
When asked about the latest British concerns, the Chinese foreign ministry referred back to a statement made by their spokesman Qin Gang in July who said China’s arms exports were carried out “in strict accordance with our law and our international obligations”.
For their part, the Taleban have recently begun boasting that they have now got hold of much more sophisticated weaponry although they refused to say from where.
Afghan officials have also privately confirmed to the BBC that sophisticated Chinese weapons are now in the hands of the Taleban.
They said these included Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, landmines, rocket-propelled grenades and components for roadside bombs.
A senior Afghan official told the BBC: “Chinese HN-5 anti-aircraft missiles are with the Taleban, we know this… and we are worried where do the Taleban get them, some of these weapons have been made recently in Chinese factories.”
Another Afghan official who deals with counter-terrorism said: “Serial numbers and other information from most of the Chinese weapons have been removed in most cases and it’s almost impossible for us to find out where they come from but we have shared our concerns with the Chinese and the Americans also.”
The Afghan government considers China to be a friend, and a much less meddlesome ally than the other big player in its neighbourhood, India.
But, the counter-terrorism official added, “China is worried about the presence of the US in the region”. ……
more details from BBC News: Taleban ‘getting Chinese weapons’