Rebel fighter holds an SA7 missile captured from Pro-Gaddafi arsenals in Benghazi. (Photo: Reuters)
China's Foreign Ministry denied on Friday that hand-held anti-aircraft weapons made in China had fallen into the hands of militants in Iraq and Syria, saying the country had strict export controls.
The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey group said that lightweight man-portable air defence systems, or MANPADS, had been looted from Libya or otherwise acquired by the militants, posing a significant threat to commercial flights.
"Since 2011, armed groups in Iraq and Syria have acquired dozens of recent generation Chinese and Russian MANPADS, including systems not previously seen outside of government control," the group said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the report was untrue.
"China doesn't export weapons to non-state entities or countries that come under the arms embargo sanctions of the U.N. Security Council," Hong said at a regular briefing. "China will continue to exercise effective and strict controls over the military trade."
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Chinese exports of major arms increased by 143 per cent between from the 2005-2009 period to the 2010-14 period, making it the third largest supplier in the world after the United States and Russia.
China has repeatedly said it is a responsible exporter of arms and follows all international conventions and rules.
This week the Foreign Ministry said it was astonished by a U.S. State Department report which raised worries about the Chinese commitment to nonproliferation.