Debt Impound Uncovers Chinese Arms Shipment to Zimbabwe Tinderbox
After a German bank got an impound order for a Chinese ship's Zimbabwe-bound cargo in order to settle Zimbabwe's debt owed the bank, the ships contents are learned to be an arms shipment to the Mugabe government after the contentious election and ensuing violence.
A German bank obtained a court order to impound the cargo of a Chinese ship carrying weapons for Zimbabwe as it tries to recover unpaid debts from the southern African country, officials said Tuesday.
But KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH, a subsidiary of Germany's state-owned KfW development bank, was unaware that the An Yue Jiang was carrying arms when it obtained the order from a South African court last week, spokeswoman Dela Strumpf said.The Chinese ship has been turned away from South African and Mozambican ports in recent days as officials balked at its cargo of weapons and ammunition for Zimbabwe's government. It is now believed to be headed for Angola, possibly with a refueling stop in Namibia.
According to the BBC, China may now recall the Zimbabwe weapons, likely embarrassed yet again on the international stage ahead of hosting the Olympic games in Beijing.
Zambia's president has called on other African countries not to let the ship enter their waters, in case the arms escalate post-election tensions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the weapons were ordered last year and were "perfectly normal".But she said the ship's owners were considering bringing the ship back.
So, just what is the An Yue Jiang carrying to Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe?
The International Transport Workers Federation says it has asked its members across Africa not to help unload the An Yue Jiang, which is reportedly carrying three million rounds of ammunition, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and 2,500 mortar rounds.
The opposition says the weapons could be used to "wage war" on its supporters ahead of a possible run-off in the presidential vote.This is strongly denied by the government, which has accused the opposition of exaggerating claims of recent political violence.
With 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition, 1,500 RPG's, and 2,500 mortar rounds aboard, can there be any question about who effectively controls the ship? The Chinese spokeswoman suggested a private venture in saying "the ship's owners" were considering returning to China, but with a massive arms shipment, the Chinese central government and PLA are clearly the controlling interests here, regardless the chartered steerage.
China is clearly planning more international games than the coming Olympiad, and Mugabe's claims against the opposition which defeated him in the polls are as credible as Hamas peace overtures. Neither China nor Mugabe lack historical track records supporting such conclusions.