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Sino-Africa cooperation to strengthen action on illicit weapons: scholars


09:06, July 03, 2013

NAIROBI, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The blossoming Sino-Africa cooperation should be harnessed to boost implementation of long- term programs on eliminating illegal flow of small and light weapons in Africa, Chinese scholars said on Tuesday.

Speaking to Xinhua on the sidelines of a regional conference on tackling illicit small arms in Nairobi, the scholars emphasized that China has a major role to play in promoting security, peace and stability in Africa.

"China's involvement is critical to the success of interventions to control unregulated flow of small and light weapons that pose new security challenges in Africa," said Zhang Chun, an expert on China-Africa relations at Shanghai Institute for International Studies (ISIS).

Chun told Xinhua in Nairobi that China's foreign policy underscores the need to strengthen peace, security and stability in Africa to achieve mutual benefits.

Proliferation of small arms has not only worsened conflicts and underdevelopment in Africa but also harms Chinese interests in the continent.

Chun said that Beijing is part of international efforts to revitalize action on illegal trafficking of small arms in Africa.

"China has supported multilateral efforts to develop peace and security architecture for Africa and elimination of small and light weapons is at the center stage. Security underpins economic growth in Africa," said Chun.

He added that China has supported conflict prevention and post conflict reconstruction in Africa's trouble stops.

The challenge of small and light weapons has worsened in post conflict nations including Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chun stressed the need to involve African governments, regional blocs and civil society groups to implement disarmament programs in these countries.

The diplomacy scholar noted that China's involvement in efforts to eliminate small arms in Africa will extend the Asian giants' soft power in the continent.

Illegal trafficking of small arms is to blame for resurgent conflicts, terrorism and transnational crimes in many parts of Africa.

Chun observed that abductions targeting Chinese nationals have spiked in mining zones due to availability of small arms by fringe elements.

A scholar at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), Ouyang Liping, emphasized that Sino-Africa cooperation should prioritize action on illicit weapons.

"China has realized the importance of a stable, secure and prosperous Africa. We can offer technical assistance to help African countries regulate the flow of arms to deter them from reaching the hands of illegal groups," Liping told Xinhua.

China's participation in strategic areas such as strengthening law enforcement, training and education to promote sound weapons management will boost the war against illegal trafficking of arms in Africa.

Liping added that regular exchanges between African and Chinese military and establishment of demonstration centers will strengthen the fight against illegal arms.

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