Thursday, July 24, 2008
Thu, 24 Jul 2008 04:02:00 +0000
CHINA has refuted claims by an Australian newspaper that Air Zimbabwe’s scheduled civilian flights to China engaged in illicit trade dealings and dismissed the report as ‘malicious’ and meant to discredit China's relationship with African countries.
Australia’s The Age newspaper reported on Tuesday that flights of an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 to Beijing and southern China, via Singapore, have been used to transport goods including ivory, gold and diamonds.
“Flights from Harare, also carrying tonnes of illicit goods including ivory, gold and diamonds, pass directly through Australian air space en route to Singapore before touching down in Beijing and southern China,” alleged The Age on its website.
The report was dismissed by China as non-existent news and said the reporters of the newspaper “lack … basic professional ethics” adding that this “would finally ruin their reputation and credibility.”
The newspaper reports was also refuted by Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Transport Minister Anthony who issued a joint statement saying: “Air Zimbabwe flights between Harare and China via Singapore do not fly through air space over Australian territory, but through international air space managed by Airservices Australia on behalf of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.”
A spokesman for the Zimbabwe embassy in Canberra, Felix Nyamupinga, was reported by the Associated Press saying he knew of only one instance a month ago, during his three years in Australia of a Zimbabwe-registered plane gaining clearance to enter Australian air space.
The Age newspaper has taken a negative stance on Zimbabwe recently. On Wednesday it called the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two main parties a ‘vague’ deal, notwithstanding the fact that it was not a ‘deal’, but an agreement to engage in talks.
In an article entitled, “Zimbabwe foes begin talks,” The Age’s Johannesburg correspondent Craig Timberg said the the ‘deal’ left aside “nearly every key question about Zimbabwe's future.”
In another article on E.U. sanctions against Zimbabwe, The Age newspaper claimed that Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe was on the sanctions list. The list availed to the Zimbabwe Guardian does not show her name on that new list.