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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Darfur exposes Chinese hypocrisy

Editorial, The Washington Post

September 6, 2006 — Last week Wang Guangya, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, made a
formal statement on Darfur that calls into question China’s claim to be
treated as a responsible international player. Mr. Wang began by saying
that China wants U.N. peacekeepers to be deployed in Darfur, calling
this a “good idea and realistic option,” one that should be done “as
soon as feasible.” But then he went on to explain that China was
refusing to support the U.N. resolution calling for such a deployment.
Unless China changes its position, the result may well be tens of
thousands of civilian deaths.

Mr. Wang argued that China could not support the resolution because
Sudan’s government was not yet ready to accept U.N. peacekeepers on its
soil. But the reason that Sudan is refusing to allow in peacekeepers is
that it has faced little international pressure to do so. The United
States and its European partners have called upon Sudan to let the U.N.
force in. But China, which has enormous leverage over Sudan because of
its investment in Sudanese oil fields, has failed to push the Sudanese
into accepting the “realistic option” of a U.N. deployment. Indeed,
China lobbied hard and successfully to prevent Russia from supporting
the peacekeeping resolution, further undermining pressure on Sudan’s
government to allow in peacekeepers.

Mr. Wang also asserted that, although China supported the peacekeeping resolution in principle, Beijing deemed it “unnecessary for the Security
Council to put the draft to the vote in a hurry.” How that squares with
the call for a deployment “as soon as feasible” is a mystery. Moreover,
reports from Darfur suggest that, contrary to the position of the
Chinese government, there’s every reason to hurry. Sudan’s government
has declared its intention to launch a new offensive against rebels in
northern Darfur, which promises an upsurge of violence in an area that
is home to about 250,000 people. The violence is making it impossible
for aid workers to help hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
Meanwhile the existing African Union peacekeeping force has run out of
credibility and money. The stage is set for the worst bout of killing
since 2004.

At the end of last week’s statement, Mr. Wang lamented that the United
States and Britain, the two sponsors of the peacekeeping resolution,
“have failed to earnestly heed China’s sincere efforts.” What efforts,
precisely? If China really is sincere about its desire to see
peacekeepers in Darfur, it should tell its allies in Sudan’s government
to call off their military offensive and accept U.N. peacekeepers