Arms ship held in Colombia carried 'ordinary' supplies: China
BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
A Chinese freighter loaded with unregistered weapons which was heading for Cuba is seen anchored at the port of Cartagena, Colombia on March 3, 2015. AFP Photo.Beijing on March 4 defended a Chinese cargo ship detained by Colombia, arguing that the freighter was carrying "ordinary military supplies" to Cuba.
The comments by China's foreign ministry came one day after Colombian authorities announced that they had detained the captain of the Hong Kong-registered Da Dan Xia and would charge him with weapons trafficking.
The general cargo ship, which has been held since Saturday, was loaded with undeclared military equipment including about 100 tonnes of gunpowder, 99 projectile bases and 3,000 artillery cartridge cases, a prosecutor's office spokesman told reporters in Bogota.
The ship's documentation "conflicted with what was actually found" aboard the vessel, a prosecutor said.
But Beijing's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying maintained that the ship was operating within Chinese and international law.
"The vessel is carrying ordinary military supplies and utilities to Cuba; there is no sensitive substance on board," she told a regular briefing.
"The cooperation does not violate China's laws and regulations nor the international obligations that China undertakes," she said, dismissing the incident as "completely normal military trade cooperation".
China is the world's fourth biggest arms supplier, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Colombian prosecutor Luis Gonzalez Leon said Tuesday that the Chinese captain, Wu Hong, will be charged with weapons trafficking.
The freighter was due to stop in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla before ending its journey in Havana.
Hua said that China "always asks companies operating overseas to abide by local laws and regulations".