U.S. military equipment banned from being exported to China are easily available for Chinese shoppers over the Internet, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported, adding that a leading e-commerce platform is listing the embargoed merchandize.
Military items such as infrared identification chips used by U.S. special operations forces, sniper scopes, infantry accessories and internal training materials are currently available for sale on Taobao, China's largest online shopping site, owned by Alibaba Group, with some shop owners using the items’ sensitivity as a selling point, SCMP reported.
Some items on Taobao carried the phrase: “US government property. Commercial release is unlawful,” while a shop named “Enemies’ Equipment Club” reportedly said on the page dedicated to U.S. military training materials that all items listed under the section were “brand new.”
“The US restricts the export of these items. Obtaining them was difficult,” the seller reportedly said. “If you can understand it, the benefit is unlimited.”
At least eight customers had purchased from the seller a package containing five books -- including the “Special Forces Hand Book,” published by U.S. Army Headquarters, and the “Ranger Hand Book” from the U.S. Army Infantry School -- for a price of 170 yuan ($27.4), SCMP reported.
The same shop also sold a Northrop Grumman M24 Binocular for 1,750 yuan ($282) and an Aqua-Lung survival egress air device, used by U.S. Navy SEALs, for 1,860 yuan ($300), SCMP reported, adding that none of the shops revealed how they had acquired the items, adding that the authenticity of these items could not be verified.
International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) controls the export and import of defense-related articles and services mentioned on the United States Munitions List (USML). Under ITAR, China, along with 25 other countries including North Korea, Syria and Iran, is not authorized to have access to USML items. Although Chinese nationals can buy non-offensive items, such as binoculars and training materials, from shops in the U.S., the export of such items to China is restricted, SCMP reported.