The first load of Chinese-made armoured personnel carriers have arrived in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, with riot gear, mobile water cannons and other equipment soon to follow. China recently concluded a US$240 million arms deal with Zimbabwe in defiance of international sanctions against the troubled southern African nation. According to local media reports, trains ferrying armoured troop carriers have been seen leaving the port of Beira, in neighbouring Mozambique, and heading west to Zimbabwe. South Africa's Afrikaans-language Die Burger, a newspaper with close ties to the region's security establishment, says a senior delegation of Chinese officials visited Harare several weeks ago to sign a deal that would send additional military hardware and crowd-control equipment to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has also ordered 12 fighter planes from China and thousands of AK-47 assault rifles. The arms package was acquired in spite of stiff international sanctions and over the protests of Zimbabwe's neighbour, South Africa. Zimbabwean human rights activists have also condemned the sale as most of the hardware will be used to prop up President Robert Mugabe's autocratic regime. The riot gear, in particular, is causing concern. Zimbabwe has already used Israeli-made crowd-control equipment to break up rallies, demonstrations and political meetings of supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Zimbabwe has also had to dig deep into its dwindling resources to pay for the deal. Local reports have suggested that Mr Mugabe has promised China land and access to its mineral wealth as payment. Zimbabwe has often resorted to novel forms of payment. In 2000, it paid the Chinese authorities for a US$1 million shipment of AK-47's using ivory from stockpiles gathered from its national parks.