5/3/92 at 8:00 PM
In what appears to be a slap at George Bush's go-easy policy toward Beijing, China has evaded the U.N. embargo against Libya with a huge shipment of small arms to Tripoli, NEWSWEEK has learned. U.S. satellites spotted a Chinese cargo ship, the San Jiang Kou, off-loading "tens of thousands" of rifles, machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons at a Libyan port on April 17, intelligence sources say. On March 31 the U.N. ordered a ban, effective April 15, on travel and arms sales to Libya after it refused to turn over agents charged in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
When confronted by State Department officials, U.S. sources say, Beijing claimed the ship was in Libyan waters-and technically under Libyan control-before April 15. "At best, they sneaked in at the deadline," says a U.S. official. "At worst it's an egregious violation of the embargo." The White House has resisted calls to tighten sanctions against China since the Tiananmen Square massacre.