Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 20 December 2007

A comprehensive guide to China’s role in Darfur


By Eric Reeves, The New Republic on-line

December 19, 2007 — Two weeks ago, Britain introduced a toughly worded Presidential
Statement at the U.N. Security Council, demanding that Khartoum’s
National Islamic Front regime turn over two génocidaires to the
International Criminal Court. The first, Ahmed Haroun, who, in a
grotesque bit of irony, now serves as Sudan’s minister of humanitarian
affairs, is accused of having directly orchestrated many of the vicious
crimes documented by the U.N. and independent human rights organizations
in Darfur. Similarly, Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader, is deeply
implicated in the most egregious violations of international
law—targeted ethnic slaughter and the use of rape as a weapon of war
among them.

The Presidential Statement should’ve easily passed: The evidence against
both men is strong, and because of U.N. Security Council Resolution
1593, the ICC has jurisdiction over the matter. What ended up happening,
though, was hardly a surprise to anyone who has watched Darfur closely
over the last five years. China threatened to veto the non-binding
declaration unless its language was essentially gutted, and rather than
force the issue, Britain, France, and the U.S.—as well as the other
Security Council members—quietly decided to drop the matter. As a
result, not only will Haroun and Kushayb remain free, but the government
in Khartoum will feel as if it can block the extradition of those
subsequently accused by the Court. The ICC just lost its teeth.

This under-reported development provides yet another example of China’s
enabling role in the Darfur genocide. The crimes that China has abetted
in Sudan are almost certainly too numerous to detail in any one place,
but, here, for easy documentation, is a précis of how the country has
come to have the blood of more than 400,000 Darfuris on its hands.

- INVESTING IN OIL. First things first: We have to settle the question of
why China has made itself such a willing accomplice. One needn’t go much
further than the oil fields in the southern part of Sudan to find the
answer. Over the last decade, with its economy booming and its need for
cheap fossil fuels climbing at a fantastic clip, China has been
Khartoum’s primary partner in oil development projects. Of the
500,000 barrels of oil Sudan produces every day, China imports roughly
two thirds. That would translate into more than $7 billion a year in
costs, if the oil were purchased on the open market. But because China
dominates the two major oil production consortia in southern Sudan,
Beijing’s petroleum bill was only slightly more than half that. It’s no
wonder the Chinese have been so keen on funneling money—some $10
billion—into Sudanese oil infrastructure projects like pipeline
construction, all-weather road building, and exploration rigs. Don’t
expect the relationship to change any time soon either: China’s
petroleum import bill has risen by more than 10% per year for more than
a decade and shows no signs of slowing.

- LUBRICATING A GENOCIDAL ECONOMY. In addition to its massive
investment in oil development, Beijing has provided more than $6 billion
dollars in other commercial and capital investments. Much of the money
has been poured into huge dam projects, including the environmentally
irresponsible Merowe and Kajbar dams in the northern reaches of the
country. Civilian displacement and violent repression of protests in the
Nubia region—a direct result of these dam projects—have done nothing
to dissuade further investment.

China has also put significant money into Khartoum’s rail line, port
capacity, and the civilian road system that surrounds Khartoum. These
investments, some apparently positive, have provided a critical
financial bridge for an economy that is plagued by massive external
debt—currently more thcapitworld. In fact, it is misleading to speak of a “Sudanese economy”:
foreign investment benefits almost exclusively Khartoum and its
immediate environs. (The electricity generated by the dams mentioned
above, for example, will benefit only the areas in and around Khartoum.)
The rest of Sudan, Africa’s largest country, sees almost nothing of this
investment or the economic development that is so conspicuous in
Khartoum itself. What’s more, the Sudanese companies that benefit most
from Chinese investments are controlled, either directly or indirectly,
by members of the National Islamic Front, further strengthening the
regime’s stranglehold on Sudanese national wealth and power.

- SUPPLYING WEAPONS. Since 1996, Beijing has been Khartoum’s primary
supplier of weapons, military supplies, and weapons technology. Using
Chinese-generated oil revenues (and anticipated oil revenues), Khartoum
has purchased large quantities of military aircraft, heavy artillery,
tanks, armored personnel carriers, and much else that fills the deadly
arsenal destined for Darfur. China also helped to improve the regime’s
production capacity, with the effect that Khartoum is now largely
self-sufficient in building small- and medium-sized weapons.

Both China and Russia were cited in a May 2007 Amnesty International
report on Darfur that highlighted irresponsible weapons transfers. The
group discovered that both countries had shipped air-to-ground fighter
aircraft and helicopter gunships to Sudan, despite a U.N. weapons
embargo. And a June 2007 Amnesty report on China’s international arms
transfers, drawing on the work of the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur,
highlighted the shipment to Khartoum of Dong Feng military trucks, the
very sort implicated in some of the worst mass executions of ethnic
African tribal groups in Darfur.

When asked about these vast weapons shipments, China’s Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Jiang Yu replied, “In conducting arms sales to African, we
carefully consider the local area’s situation and development model and
stick to the spirit of protecting local peace and stability.” By
“protecting local peace and stability,” she he no doubt was referring
to Darfur’s millions of displaced persons and hundreds of thousands of
war dead.

- FLEXING ITS DIPLOMATIC MUSCLE AT THE UN. For the past five years, China
has played lead blocker for the National Islamic Front regime at the
U.N. This semi-official blessing from a permanent member of the Security
Council has allowed Khartoum to defy a host of U.N. demands and continue
with its genocide. Take a look at this rundown of failed U.N. attempts
at peace:

- Resolution 1556 (July 2004) “demanded” that Khartoum disarm the deadly
Janjaweed militia and bring its leaders to justice. China abstained on
the resolution, and Khartoum subsequently ignored it, surmising
correctly that the international community would have no stomach to back
up this “demand” with threats or action.

- Resolution 1591 (March 2005) imposed an arms embargo on Darfur. China
abstained in the vote and Khartoum continues to bring huge quantities of
weapons and military supplies into Darfur. China has also opposed any
effort to sanction Khartoum for violating the U.N. resolution.

- Resolution 1593 (March 2005) referred “crimes against humanity”
reported by a U.N. panel to the International Criminal Court. China
abstained, and Khartoum has subsequently shown nothing but contempt for
the ICC.

•Resolution 1706 (August 2006) authorized more than 20,000 U.N.
peacekeepers and civilian police to protect civilians and humanitarian
workers in Darfur. China abstained, and would have vetoed the measure
had language not been inserted that “invited” the consent of the
Khartoum regime. The National Islamic Front declined the “invitation”
and refused to accept the U.N. peacekeeping force. China supported
Khartoum’s defiance by declaring its belief in “non-interference” in the
domestic matters of sovereign natio•Resolution 1769 (July 2007) was a weakened substitute for 1706. The
idea was to authorize a “hybrid” U.N./African Union force of some 26,000
troops and civilian police to protect civilians and humanitarians. China
eventually voted for the resolution, but only after stripping it of a
mandate to disarm combatants. China also refused to approve any
sanctions measure in the inevitable event of Khartoum’s non-compliance
with the terms of 1769.

U.N. sources tell me that since the passage of Resolution 1769, China
has become more, not less, supportive of Khartoum’s broad defiance of
the international community. This stance has brought deployment of
U.N.-authorized forces to a standstill, and continues to impede
humanitarian aid delivery. Indeed, there is a real danger that the
entire U.N./African Union mission will be aborted, precipitating a
collapse in security throughout Darfur. As Jean-Marie Guéhenno, head of
U.N. peacekeeping, recently asked, "Do we move ahead with the deployment
of a force that will not make a difference, that will not have the
capability to defend itself, and that carries the risk of humiliation of
the Security Council and the United Nations, and tragic failure for the
people of Darfur?"

Once again, it appears as if China will have quietly strong-armed the
U.N. into getting exactly what it wants.

IT TAKES GREAT confidence to engage in long-term genocide before the
world’s eyes. China—diplomatically, economically, militarily—has done
much to provide Khartoum with that confidence. If the world community
wants the genocide to end, the Chinese government must be made to
understand that it will lose more by helping to perpetuate the horror in
Darfur than it will gain by supporting Khartoum.

Eric Reeves is author of “A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the
Darfur Genocide”

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  • 22 December 2007 04:41, by jeff warren

    Thank Mr. reeves for having the guts to
    tell it like it is . Darfur needs the world on their side , instead they have a only a few friends in the scheme of things. Unfortunately time is not favoring the darfurians. China has to step forward or we need to treat them as a something other than " partner"
    as you hear in the economic world.
    Where I’m from we say " If you sleep with dogs , you’ll get fleas".
    I hope this message reaches you.
    Thank you for your incredible efforts.
    Jeff warren
    Dallas, TX

    repondre message

  • 22 December 2007 15:15, by sudan4ever

    There is some inexact information.

    Firsty,Merowe dam will not benefit Khartoum, but it will benefit whole Northern Sudan and even Ethiopia

    How ?
    Simply because the national grid which Chinese are building will now extend from Wadi-Halfa to El Obeyd to port Sudan to Gedaref.
    It will add 1200 MW of electricity in the NATIONAL grid and not in the Khartoum grid.

    You can see this on this web page, where you have details on Merowe dam and the national electricty grid:


    View online : Merowe dam and the national electricity grid

    repondre message

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