Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 10 June 2007

Darfur and the Olympics: A call for international action


Testimony by Eric Reeves, Sudan Adviser to the “Olympic Dream for
Darfur Campaign” www.DreamforDarfur.org
Presented to the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign
Affairs, House of Representatives, Washington, DC

June 7, 2007

Chairman Tierney and other distinguished Members of this Subcommittee:

As human security in Darfur and eastern Chad continues to deteriorate;
as 4.5 million conflict-affected human beings face ongoing threats of
violence, malnutrition, and disease; and as the world’s largest and
most endangered humanitarian operation continues its critical work
amidst intolerable levels of insecurity, we need to be asking with all
possible urgency why there is no meaningful protection on the ground for
these acutely vulnerable populations. Why is it that in the face of
obdurate defiance by the National Islamic Front (National Congress
Party) regime in Khartoum, the international community continues to
accept a weak, demoralized, and crumbling African Union observer mission
as the only source of civilian and humanitarian protection for Darfur?
How can it be that as this brutalized region enters a fifth year of
genocidal counter-insurgency warfare, the UN Security Council has failed
so badly in its “responsibility to protect” civilians in Darfur and
eastern Chad?

The past four years offer all too many answers, all too many instances
of moral and political failure by a wide range of international actors.
But no country has done more to support Khartoum than China; no country
has offered more unstinting diplomatic support; no country has done more
to provide the weaponry that fuels the engine of genocidal destruction;
no country has done more to insulate Khartoum from economic pressure or
human rights accountability.

That China is also poised to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games gives
to this hearing an extraordinary timeliness, and I hope in this extended
testimony to suggest both a sense of the recent history of China’s
role in Sudan as well as an outline of the opportunities presented for
compelling China to accept the responsibilities that are incumbent upon
any appropriate host of the Olympic Games.


On August 31, 2006, the UN Security Council belatedly passed Resolution
1706, authorizing a peace support operation for Darfur consisting of
22,500 UN troops, civilian police, and Formed Police Units. The force
was to deploy “rapidly” under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (which
confers enforcement authority), with an explicit mandate to protect
civilians as well as humanitarians and humanitarian operations. The
force was also to establish a “multidimensional presence” to
“improve the security situation in the neighboring regions along
the borders between the Sudan and Chad and between the Sudan and the
Central African Republic.” Urgently and robustly deployed, such a
force could have done much to avert massive human displacement and

On the occasion of this resolution, one vote was of particular note:
the abstention by the Permanent Representative of the People’s
Republic of China. To be sure, there were abstentions by Qatar,
representing the Arab League’s indifference to Darfur’s agony, and
Russia, which has a highly lucrative arms trade with the Khartoum
regime. But it was China’s vote that signaled to Khartoum that it
would face no prospect of urgent or forceful implementation of
Resolution 1706, that diplomatic protection would be afforded to the
most destructive intransigence.

If we wish to understand why more than nine months after passage of
Resolution 1706 fewer than 200 UN personnel have been deployed to
Darfur, even as security continues to deteriorate and the African Union
performs less and less effectively, then we must confront squarely the
complicity of China in sustaining genocide by attrition in Darfur. For
while China has learned the trick of mouthing meaningless words of
concern, it presently holds fast to a course of rapacious indifference
in Sudan. As host of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, China must confront
a clear and decisive choice: for it cannot legitimately host the
premiere event in international sports while at the same time remaining
complicit in the ultimate international crime.


China has over the past decade and more between the chief supplier of
weapons, military supplies, and weapons technology to the Khartoum
regime. The latter has enabled Khartoum to develop production capacity
on a scale such that it is now largely self-sufficient in small and
medium-sized weapons, of the sort produced at facilities like the vast
GIAD industrial complex outside of Khartoum. But Chinese transfers of
helicopter gunships, MiG fighter aircraft, tanks, armored personnel
carriers, heavy military trucks and artillery systems were all critical
in Khartoum’s savage military conduct during the north/south civil
war, particularly in the oil regions where Chinese companies dominate
the two producing oil consortia (in Eastern and Western Upper Nile

Khartoum’s profligate weapons purchases have continued, even as the
regime-dominated economy labors under extraordinary external debt, now
exceeding $25 billion. Three years ago the purchase of a dozen highly
advanced MiG-29’s from Russia cost almost $1 billion, and yet
Khartoum’s defense minister was recently in Moscow seeking yet more
credit for purchase of helicopter gunships and other advanced aerial
weapons systems.

Both China and Russia were recently cited in an Amnesty International
report on Darfur that highlighted the irresponsible weapons transfers
from these two countries, despite a UN weapons embargo:

“The bulk [of the military and related equipment] was transferred
from China and Russia, two Permanent Members of the Security Council.
The governments of these supplier countries have been, or should have
been, aware through the published and unpublished reports of the UN
Panel of Experts to the UN Sanctions Committee on Sudan as well as the
detailed report by Amnesty International published in November 2004 that
several types of military equipment including aircraft have been
deployed by the Sudanese armed forces and militia for direct attacks on
civilians and indiscriminate attacks in Darfur, as well as for
logistical support for these attacks.”

These aerial attacks on civilian targets are chronicled in immense and
compelling detail in Amnesty’s report, “Sudan: Arms continuing to
fuel serious human rights violations in Darfur,” May 8, 2007, Amnesty
International Index: AFR 54/019/2007). Of particular concern are A-5
“Fantan” jets:

“Amnesty International is concerned that the Sudan Air Force has
transferred these [A-5 “Fantan”] jet bombers to Darfur without
authority from the UN Sanctions Committee and is highly likely to use
these newly acquired jets, as it has other aircraft, and the acquisition
of expertise to fly the jets supplied from China, for indiscriminate
attacks in Darfur in violation of the UN arms embargo and international
humanitarian law….”

Amnesty further reports that despite the February 2007 appeal from UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (“I particularly deplore the aerial
bombings by Sudanese government forces, which have expanded to new areas
since 16 January [2007], resulting in more civilians casualties and

“Between January 2007 and March 2007, Chinese A-5 ‘Fantan’ jet
fighters were seen parked at Nyala airport. These aircraft are
specifically designed to be used for ground attack operations. In early
March a large bomb and some green ammunition boxes were seen next to the
jets. In March 2007, a third A-5 ‘Fantan’ jet (reg. number 410) was
seen at Nyala airport.”

Another Amnesty report on China’s international arms transfers,
drawing on the work of a UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, highlights the
shipment to Khartoum of Dong Feng military trucks:

“In Sudan in August 2005 a UN panel, which was investigating
violations of the international arms embargo on Sudan, saw a shipment of
green Dong Feng military trucks in the Port of Sudan. ‘New green
trucks of a similar type were also seen on the Sudanese air force
premises in Darfur in October.’ The investigations found that:

‘The Panel had begun a process trace in order to verify the end-user
and final destination of the vehicles that were seen at Port Sudan. The
investigation showed that a total of 222 vehicles (212 military trucks
of model EQ2100E6D and 10 chassis workshop of model EQ1093F6D) were
procured from Dongfeng Automobile Import and Export Limited in China,
makers of military equipment and vehicles. The consignee was the
Ministry of Finance and National Economy of the Sudan. Further reports
received indicated that the vehicles were consigned on behalf of the
Ministry of Defence.’” (“People’s Republic of China: Sustaining
conflict and human rights abuses: The flow of arms accelerates,” June
11, 2006, Amnesty International Index: ASA 17/030/2006)

The end use of such vehicles, duplicitously imported from China?

“Throughout the massacres in Darfur in 2004, Amnesty International
and other human rights monitors noted that military trucks were being
used to transport both Sudanese military and Janjawid militia personnel,
and in some cases to deliver people for extrajudicial execution. In
April 2004, Amnesty International reported the extrajudicial execution
of 168 people from Wadi Saleh, in the west of Darfur, near the Chad
border. The men were seized from 10 villages by a large force of
soldiers, military intelligence officers and Janjawid militiamen,
blindfolded and taken in groups of about 40 in army trucks to an area
behind a hill near Deleij village. They were ordered to lie on the
ground and were shot dead."

We have, in short, a vast amount of evidence that Chinese weaponry is
directly involved in the Darfur genocide, and that the uses of this
weaponry is certainly known by the government in Beijing. China has
long provided weapons to Khartoum, even when the human costs have been
clearly evident (for an overview of Chinese weapons transfers to
Khartoum from 1995 to 1998, see “Arms Transfers to the Government of
Sudan,” Human Rights Watch [1998],

To all of this China’s Foreign Ministry replies blandly, “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” (Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman Jiang Yu, reported by Associated Press [dateline: Beijing],
May 8, 2007). Such transparent mendacity is certainly revealing of
Chinese credibility in speaking about the Darfur crisis.


Two weeks ago Bloomberg news-wire reported that China’s monthly crude
oil imports from Sudan had increased by 600% over the previous year,
jumping to 222,000 barrels a day: “Sudan is China’s sixth- largest
supplier of oil this year, shipments rising more than fivefold to 25.8
million barrels” (May 25, 2007). Given the rapidly growing petroleum
needs of the Chinese economy, and the enormous Chinese stake in Sudanese
oil production, the geostrategic significance of Sudan could hardly be
clearer. Sudan is the premier site for China’s off-shore oil
production, without a close rival. Off-shore oil production helps to
insulate the Chinese economy from the consequences of rising, and
sometimes spiking crude oil prices. Nothing does more to account for
Chinese complicity in the massive scorched-earth clearances in southern
Sudan during the latter stages of the north/south civil war (see

China imports approximately two-thirds of Sudan’s oil exports
(precise figures for production, revenues, and export are deliberately
obscured by the Khartoum regime in an effort to deny Southern Sudan its
rightful portion of oil revenues under the wealth-sharing protocol of
the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [Nairobi, January 9, 2005]). These
revenues in turn have sustained the weapons purchases that have fueled
genocidal destruction in the marginalized areas of Sudan for years---in
the oil regions of Southern Sudan and southern Kordofan Province, in
Southern Blue Nile, in the eastern provinces, and most conspicuously and
massively in Darfur.


Despite its considerable oil wealth (crude petroleum exports began in
August 1999), the Khartoum-dominated economy, as noted above, is deeply
indebted. Oil revenues alone are not sufficient to sustain the economy,
certainly not given profligate weapons purchases and extraordinary
devotion of national resources to genocidal counter-insurgency war in
Darfur and a continuing massive military presence in southern Sudan.
The economy requires substantial commercial and capital investments from
European and Asian multinational corporations. The American-led
divestment campaign has successfully forced several Europeans companies
to suspend all economic activity in Sudan pending the halting of
genocide in Darfur (most notably, Rolls-Royce Marine, Siemens [Germany],
ABB Ltd. [Switzerland]). But Asian companies, particularly those of
China, continue to do business as usual with Khartoum, even if the
consequences of their business practices are enormously destructive, and
further insulate the regime from international economic pressure.

China’s economic and trade relationship with the Khartoum-dominated
economy continues to grow substantially, even as China has for years
invested heavily in Sudan, particularly in the petroleum sector. China
was the primary partner in building the oil pipeline from southern Sudan
to Port Sudan (completed 1999) and dominates road construction in the
oil regions, primarily Eastern and Western Upper Nile. These roads have
been constructed without regard for environmental impact or the
indigenous economy, which depends upon cattle and cattle migration. The
roads are typically constructed without culverts, which ensures flooding
during the rainy season; the roads also block many traditional migratory
routes for cattle, with deeply disruptive effects.

Moreover, during their construction these roads were often the sites of
brutal scorched-earth clearances. Road construction displaced countless
tens of thousands of civilians, often violently, with tremendous human
destruction. During the north-south conflict, airstrips belonging to the
oil development consortia, and involving Chinese construction, were
frequently used by Khartoum’s military aircraft, including deadly
helicopter gunships. These fearsome weapons of human destruction have
been implicated in hundreds of deadly attacks on civilian, even
humanitarian targets. For example, in the village of Bieh (Western
Upper Nile) the UN reported on February 21, 2002 a savage attack by
helicopter gunships on women and children gathered to receive from the
UN’s World Food Program:

“A Sudanese army helicopter fired five rockets at thousands of
civilians at a UN food distribution point, leaving 17 people dead, World
Food Program officials and Sudanese rebels said Thursday. [ ] ‘Such
attacks, deliberately targeting civilians about to receive humanitarian
aid, are absolutely and utterly unacceptable,’ WFP chief Catherine
Bertini said in a statement. ‘This attack---the second of this kind in
less than two weeks---is an intolerable affront to human life and
humanitarian work.’” (Associated Press [dateline: Nairobi], February
21, 2002)

It is important to realize that although Sudan is the largest country
in Africa---the size of the United States east of the Mississippi
River---only a Delaware-sized sliver of land in the Nile River Valley
(essentially Khartoum, Omdurman, and their suburbs) sees the benefit of
these vast commercial and capital investments. Southern Sudan, Darfur,
the deeply impoverished eastern Provinces, and indeed all the severely
economically marginalized areas of Sudan see virtually no benefit from
foreign investment. The assertion by China that “growth through
investment” will lift all of Sudan out of poverty is profoundly belied
by the Khartoum regime’s ruthless arrogation of national wealth and
power, and its total control of political discourse by means of a
viciously efficient security apparatus.

For example, projects such as the Merowe Dam in far northern Sudan,
with China as the major contractor and financer, will benefit the
Khartoum region; but there is no national grid with which to share the
electricity that will be produced, even as the people of Merowe region
will see nothing but displacement, often into uninhabitable terrain.
Built on the fourth cataract of the Nile River, the Merowe Dam is
arguably the most environmentally irresponsible construction project in
all of Africa. A farming population of more than 50,000 people is being
moved forcibly, and without remotely adequate compensation, from the
fertile Nile River bank to some of the most arid regions of Bayouda and
Nubia. Those resisting the project have been dealt with brutally, with
complicity on the part of China’s work force and security personnel.

China’s commercial and capital investments in Sudan reflect no benign
“alternative model” of engagement, no enlightened economic
partnership, but a callous willingness to do business with the most
corrupt and repressive regimes if the perceived benefits are great

China has recently attempted to suggest that it is throttling back
subsidized investment in Sudan, but cosmetic announcements of this sort
are belied by Chinese leadership in huge capital projects. In February
2007 China Railway Engineering Group and China Railway Erju Company Ltd
were awarded a $1.15 billion contract to construct a railway link
between Khartoum and Port Sudan on the Red Sea. This will facilitate
yet larger investment in the Khartoum and the surrounding region, but
does nothing to address the desperate need for transportation
infrastructure in the rest of Africa’s largest country.


Despite Khartoum’s resolute defiance of the international community,
despite its clear violation of various agreements and commitments made
over the past four years, China refuses to countenance any UN sanctions
measure. It hardly helps here that the European Union, and the
individual countries of Europe, have been so consistently unhelpful in
pressuring Khartoum. But there are at least signs that Europe will move
in the near term.

As far as China is concerned, however, senior diplomat Li Junjua made
clear last week that Beijing has no intention of allowing for diplomatic
progress on any sanctions measures at the UN: “‘We never, ever
believe that sanctions would contribute a lot to move the situation, no
matter in Sudan or in other cases,’ [Li] said” (Associated Press
[dateline: United Nations], May 29, 2007). These comments echoed those
of Liu Guijin, China’s new special envoy on Africa: “‘Willful
sanctions and simply applying pressure are not conducive to the solution
of the problem,’ Liu [said on] Tuesday [May 29, 2007]” (AHN
[dateline: Beijing], May 30). In only slightly more diplomatic fashion,
China’s UN ambassador echoed these sentiments yet again, declaring
that possible UN sanctions would be “quite unfortunate,” this at the
same time that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu declared in
Beijing that “new sanctions against Sudan would only complicate the
issue” (Reuters [dateline: Beijing], May 31, 2007). This line of
argument has been consistently articulated by Beijing for months: in
January the New York Times reported from Shanghai on the comments of
Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun: “‘Using pressure and imposing
sanctions is not practical and will not help settle the issue’”
(January 25, 2007).

The upshot of these various, consistent, and highly authoritative
remarks is clear: sanctions of any sort, indeed even an expanded arms
embargo, will not survive a Chinese veto at the Security Council in the
present diplomatic climate. To be sure, Lord David Triesman, British
minister for African affairs, this week claimed to have seen evidence to
the contrary; but unsurprisingly Lord Triesman was unable to offer any
details of the discussions that led him to his conclusion that “China
would not block new UN sanctions” against Khartoum (Bloomberg, June 4,
2007). Certainly Lord Triesman’s record, and that of the British
Foreign Office in general, in predicting either developments in Darfur
or UN responses to the catastrophe has been appallingly bad.

Moreover, if unwilling to impose expanded sanctions, even highly
targeted sanctions, China will most certainly be unwilling to move
beyond counseling “restraint and patience” in responding to the
urgent security crisis on the ground in Darfur and eastern Chad. No
matter that China voted for UN Security Council Resolution 1674 (April
2006), which explicitly endorsed an international “responsibility to
protect” civilians endangered in precisely the fashion we see
presently in Darfur and eastern Chad. The “responsibility to
protect” was articulated formally at the UN World Summit (September
2005), and was supported by all UN member nations, who declared

"prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner,
through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter,
including Chapter VII, on a case by case basis and in cooperation with
relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be
inadequate and national authorities manifestly failing to protect their
populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes
against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind the principles of
the Charter and international law." (UN World Summit Outcome Document,
paragraph 139)

For China, agreeing to this language was pure expediency, a grimly apt
precedent for its present unctuous words of concern about Darfur.

For its part, assured that China will not allow UN sanctions to be
imposed, and conscious of China’s tacit support for Khartoum’s own
efforts in forestalling indefinitely the deployment of the so-called
“African Union/UN hybrid operation,” the National Islamic Front
regime remains confident that a grim genocide by attrition will yield an
ultimate, if ghastly victory in Darfur.

Rebel groups remain badly divided, even as Khartoum relentlessly bombs
the sites where rebel leaders convene in an effort to hammer out a
common negotiating position. A key rebel leader and humanitarian
coordinator, Suleiman Jamous, languishes in a hospital prison in Kadugli
(Kordofan) at the insistence of the Khartoum’s most intransigent
génocidaires---this precisely because Jamous might be an effective
and conciliatory elderly statesman during rebel talks. There is much to
fault the rebels for, primarily the forces of Minni Minawi---the only
signatory to the ill-conceived and ill-fated Darfur Peace Agreement
(Abuja, Nigeria; May 2006). But in the absence of pressure on Khartoum,
we will see no meaningful negotiations emerge, nor an end to efforts to
disrupt the rebel efforts to coalesce. To all this China remains


Jan Egeland, the heroic former UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian
Affairs, recently declared forcefully that China must do more to halt
the human destruction and suffering in Darfur, lamenting that he had not
spent more time pressuring Beijing. Egeland may be right, but this
honest self-assessment comes only in hindsight. Few believed during
Egeland’s tenure that China could be made to play a responsible role
in responding to Darfur’s agony.

But as the Summer 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing loom ever closer, the
vulnerability of China to international pressure has become
commensurately clearer. For despite its gross misrepresentation of the
security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, Beijing is well aware of
the terrible realities that define the region, including eastern Chad.
And as much as China values its economic relationship with Khartoum,
including its lucrative arms trade and the extraordinary value it places
on Sudanese oil production and exploration, it values its hosting of the
Olympic Games more.

This is one reason we are seeing small, but so far only symbolic
gestures on the part of China. Publicly China has urged Khartoum to be
more “flexible” in accepting UN peace support personnel under the
“AU/UN hybrid” scheme, which has so far proved to a tale of
confusion, backtracking, disarray, and highly dilatory negotiations.
China has expended a great deal more effort in explaining publicly the
“history” of the Darfur genocide, but this explanation could in
the main easily have been borrowed from Khartoum’s own Darfur
propaganda guide-book. A special envoy for Africa has been appointed,
Liu Guijin, and he has been given Darfur as his primary brief. But his
recent visit to Darfur was merely a second Chinese airbrushing of
genocidal realities:

“Liu Guijin, China’s new troubleshooter on Africa, defended Chinese
investment in Sudan on Tuesday as a better way to stop the bloodshed in
Darfur. He said he saw no desperation in refugee camps in Darfur during
a visit last week and found that international and Sudanese groups were
working together to solve humanitarian problems there. ‘I didn’t see a
desperate scenario of people dying of hunger, Liu said at a media
briefing. Rather, he said, people in Darfur thanked him for the Chinese
government’s help in building dams and providing water supply equipment.
‘The Darfur issue and issues in eastern Sudan and southern Sudan are
caused by poverty and underdevelopment.” (Associated Press, May 29,

No mention is made of China’s critical role in consolidating the
Khartoum’s tyrannical stranglehold upon national wealth and power. No
mention is made of the desperate insecurity prevalent in so many of the
camps, or the growing epidemic of rape, or increasing rates of
malnutrition highlighted recently by UNICEF, or the continuing decline
of the African Union as a protection force.

Earlier, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun had reported on the
results of his own sanitized visit to three particularly well-controlled
camps in Darfur (here from a transcript of the Chinese Foreign Ministry,
Beijing, April 12, 2007):

“My general impression is that the current situation in Darfur is
basically stable, the local government runs normally, the refugees camps
are well managed with sound health conditions and the basic living of
refugees is guaranteed. [ ] According to the local people, the security
situation in Darfur is generally improved, especially after the signing
of the Darfur Peace Agreement and crimes decreased considerably.”

This gross misrepresentation of current realities is purely
propagandistic in nature. It sends a clear signal to Khartoum that
whatever China is obliged to say under international pressure about the
Darfur crisis, there is as yet no willingness to respond consequentially
to the extraordinarily dire assessments offered by humanitarian and
human rights groups, as well as by the intrepid journalists who still
reveal new and shocking examples of insecurity, violence, and human
destruction in Darfur and eastern Chad. The camps themselves have
become increasingly violent and dangerous, ever more heavily armed, even
as they are seething cauldrons of rage and despair. China’s profound
misrepresentation of the security and humanitarian crisis is one of the
most consequential elements of Beijing’s complicity in the Darfur

Thus it is particularly dismaying to see the Beijing regime rewarded by
various senior officials from the US, the UK, and the UN. Andrew
Natsios, the incongruously part-time US special envoy for Sudan,
recently declared:

“‘There is a lot of China-bashing in the West,’ said US special
envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, who in January praised China’s
‘positive role.’ He told a US Senate panel that China’s
‘subtle diplomacy’ had supplemented, not undermined, the policy
of sanctions against Sudan.” (Deutsche Presse Agentur [dateline:
Beijing], May 21, 2007)

It seems not to trouble Natsios that there is no “sanctions policy”
toward Khartoum over Darfur. The US expended virtually all its leverage
in this arena with President Clinton’s imposition of comprehensive
trade and economic sanctions in November 1997. President Bush’s
recently announced “sanctions” (May 29, 2007) were little more than
symbolic, as Natsios himself was forced to admit to The Guardian (May
30, 2007). There are no UN sanctions, nor has the European Union yet
found the political will to impose sanctions (a number of European
multinational corporations still do business as usual with Khartoum).

Of course Natsios can’t provide any of the details of China’s
putatively “positive role” or its “subtle diplomacy”---for the
very good reason that they do not exist. Natsios has found it expedient
to suggest that China is helpful because US foreign policy within the
Bush administration has no desire to elevate the significance of the
Darfur crisis within the bilateral relationship between China and the
US. Natsios’ part-time status and lack of diplomatic experience is a
perverse symbol of the real tenor of Bush administration commitment on
Darfur, Sudan, and in confronting Beijing on “non-strategic” issues
such as genocide in Africa.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has recently been quoted
offering similarly fatuous words of “encouragement” about China’s
role in Darfur:

“‘On Sudan, I know there has been some criticism of China, but
actually China has played really quite a positive role, particularly in
the negotiation of the Darfur peace agreement,’ the foreign secretary
said. ‘China, along with all the rest of the international community,
very much regrets that that peace agreement has not been honoured by the
government of Sudan, or indeed necessarily by the rebels.’”
(Financial Times [dateline: Beijing], May 18, 2007)

As the Financial Times tartly noted, “Mrs Beckett’s comments will be
particularly welcome in Beijing, which has reacted sharply to criticism
over its record on Sudan and is highly sensitive to anything that could
undermine its Olympic preparations.”

This polite but preposterous rendering of China’s role in Sudan, and
Beckett’s failure to acknowledge the abject failure of the Darfur
Peace Agreement, in which China played no significant diplomatic role,
may play well in Beijing---and serve to advance UK/China relations in
other quarters. But it is a distortion that only hurts the people of
Darfur by further emboldening both Beijing and thus Khartoum. Crediting
China for a role it simply has not played ensures that it will be all
the more difficult to move China to a constructive posture in securing
access for peace support personnel, and in pressuring Khartoum to engage
in good faith peace talks with the non-signatory rebel groups.

Jan Eliasson, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Darfur,
has also bewilderingly praised China’s “positive role” (remarks to
the Atlantic Council’s Globe Leadership Series, Washington, DC; May
16, 2007). Eliasson declared that “the Chinese pushed the Sudanese
government to accept the UN so-called heavy support package, another
3,000 peacekeepers to come to Darfur. And they were definitely active
on that one.”

But of course Khartoum has so far given only ambiguous lip-service to
accepting the “heavy support package,” which is most certainly not
“another 3,000 peacekeepers”: it is a package of logistics,
communications, and other technical personnel that makes sense only in
the context of a very large follow-on military force of a sort that
Khartoum has not yet begun to discuss, indeed has so far rejected out of
hand if it includes UN (as opposed to exclusively AU) troops. The
“heavy support package” provides for no infantry units and can do
nothing on its own to increase in significant ways the security so
desperately needed on the ground in Darfur and eastern Chad. The UN’s
Eliasson seems intent on contriving reasons for praising China rather
than confronting the uncomfortable facts of Beijing’s continued
diplomatic protectionism and complicity in arming Khartoum and its
military proxies in Darfur.


The Games are Beijing’s “post-Tiananmen Square coming out party,”
the occasion for the regime to take what it believes is its rightful
place of preeminence on the world stage. And though certainly
anticipating protests over its cultural and physical destruction of
Tibet, its own appalling human rights abuses, and its scandalous
environmental record, the Chinese government clearly did not see Darfur
as a major source of international embarrassment. And yet as the
narrative of the 2008 Games begins to unfold, the central role of Darfur
could not be clearer, nor the choice before China more decisive: either
China uses its unrivaled leverage with the Khartoum regime to secure
access for an international force capable of taking on a mandate to
protect civilians and humanitarians, or a shaming campaign will grow
relentlessly in scope, power, and visibility. There is no “third
way,” no alternative means for Beijing to secure legitimacy for its
hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Even so, there are various incremental steps China can take to show its
determination to make good on its declared commitment to an
international “responsibility to protect” endangered civilians:

- Press publicly for Khartoum to keep its multiple commitments to
disarm the brutal Janjaweed militias that are responsible for so much
civilian destruction; such disarmament was also the key “demand” of
UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (July 2004), on which China abstained;

- Press publicly for Khartoum to adhere to ceasefire commitments
previously made;

- Suspend all weapons transfers to Sudan;

- Suspend debt forgiveness to the Khartoum-dominated economy;

- Join with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in publicly demanding a
cessation of aerial bombardment of civilians targets, and the
indiscriminate use of aerial military assets;

- Join with UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and
numerous aid organizations in publicly demanding unfettered humanitarian
access to all regions of Darfur;

- Publicly announce punitive actions that China is prepared to take in
the event that Khartoum refuses to accept an international peace support
operation, refuses to disarm the Janjaweed, impedes or harasses
humanitarian efforts, or refuses to halt indiscriminate aerial attacks.

But public declarations and demands are not sufficient: China will only
begin the process of expending the necessary diplomatic, political, and
economic capital in making such declarations and demands.
China---having so long served to insulate Khartoum from international
pressure---must accelerate the process by which an adequate UN peace
support operation, of the sort contemplated in UN Security Council
Resolution 1706, is actually deployed. Only with the deployment of such
a force should the campaign to target China be suspended.

In pushing for these goals, advocacy efforts have in the main rightly
steered away from a counter-productive boycott campaign, and instead
articulated clear goals that will be relentlessly pursued by a wide
range of international civil society groups and constituencies. A
boycott would be immensely divisive of these international efforts, and
would punish Olympic athletes as well as those who rightly celebrate the
Games as a symbol of international cooperation and good will. In the
end, a boycott is little more than a crude “referendum,” with a vote
that will surely be in China’s favor. A boycott works to end
discourse, and instead becomes a political end in itself.

Much better, much more effective is the campaign to create an ongoing
international platform for sustained and critical discussion of
China’s role in Sudan---a platform of precisely the sort China so
rigorously denies domestically. The task then is to continue to
highlight the terrible contradiction between Beijing’s hosting the
premier international sports event and Chinese complicity in the
ultimate international crime, genocide. There must be an unrelenting
and omni-present message to Beijing: “Bring the Olympic Dream to
Darfur.” At present, China’s Olympic slogan---“One world, one
dream”---excludes with painful irony Darfur’s ongoing nightmare.
There can be no legitimacy for these Olympic Games with this ghastly
contradiction at their core; if genocide in Darfur continues into August
of 2008, history will rightly record these as the “Genocide

* Eric Reeves is a professor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and has published extensively on Sudan. He can be reached at ereeves@smith.edu; website : www.sudanreeves.org

The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

South Sudan Football Association’s rising Sun 2021-06-20 08:04:22 By Mareng Chuor Deng “It is my strong conviction that organizing our sports sector effectively, and anchoring it on a strong base of visionary management, sound fiscal discipline, transparency (...)

Remembering Par Chongriah Nong of Greater Fangak 2021-06-12 06:22:51 By Bol Khan On 9th June 2020 South Sudan's Jonglei State lost a great; fair Father, a true legend and traditional leader. A leader with an enthralled and untold legacy worth shared, globally. (...)

South Sudan should reduce checkpoints, regulate taxes 2021-06-06 05:04:03 by Bol Khan The number of checkpoints across South Sudan has had inestimably increased during the recent past—deferred civil war. This includes a number of both legal and illegal checkpoints (...)


Latest Press Releases

S. Korea supports UN communities building resilience project in Sudan’s Blue Nile 2019-09-09 09:26:41 UNDP Sudan September 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An agreement was signed on 5th of September between the Korean Ambassador, His Excellency. Lee Ki-Seong and Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident (...)

Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


Copyright © 2003-2021 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.