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Sudan biggest target for Chinese investment in Africa

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March 27, 2007 (GENEVA) — The biggest target for Chinese investment in Africa is Sudan, the oil-producing country facing mounting international pressure over rights abuses in Darfur, according to figures released by a U.N. agency on Tuesday.

The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said Sudan received $351.5 million in Chinese direct investment in 2005, the latest period for which data was available, making it Beijing’s ninth-largest target for such flows worldwide.

Sino-African trade nearly quadrupled between 2000 and 2005 to $40 billion, and Beijing’s direct investment rose to $1.6 billion as China sought access to African oil and other raw materials to feed its rapidly-expanding economy.

UNCTAD gave no breakdown of Chinese investment in Sudan. But according to other published reports, Beijing has helped build oil refineries, dams and roads in the northern African country.

Sudan, which sells much of its crude oil to China, is under Western pressure to stop the atrocities in Darfur that have driven 2.5 million people from their homes and killed 200,000 people since 2003.

A United Nations human rights mission this month accused Khartoum of planning and taking part in attacks on civilians in DArfur, though the Sudanese government blames the abuses on rebel factions there.

Rights groups say China’s economic ties with Sudan complicate efforts to get the U.N. Security Council, of which Beijing is a permanent member with veto powers, to take effective action to get Sudan to curb the Darfur violence.

Many African governments benefit from China’s no-strings-attached approach to economic ties, which exclude the demands for good governance, transparency or improvements in human rights that Western countries and multilateral lenders often make.

Most of China’s investments in Africa have been funneled into manufacturing, natural resource extraction and construction services, including railways and roads that can help speed up raw materials shipments, according to the UNCTAD report.

It found that Chinese companies are present in 48 countries across Africa, but the continent still receives only 3 percent of China’s overall foreign direct investments.

After Sudan, the biggest African recipients of Chinese direct investment in 2005 were Algeria with $171.2 million, Zambia with $160.3 million and South Africa with $112.3 million.

(Reuters)

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