Sunday, 24 February 2008

China and Sudan: bedfellows in evil?

In another piece of bad news coming from the Sudan region...

The Sudanese military is said to have renewed its aerial bombing campaign in the west of the Darfur region.
The joint United Nations African Union mission in Sudan, Unamid, said it had received reports of aerial bombings in the Jebel Moun area of the region.

A Unamid spokesman said there was grave concern for the safety of thousands of civilians in the area.

The reports came as China's envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, began a five-day visit to the country to push for peace.

China has come under increasing pressure to use its influence with Sudan to end the fighting.

Mr Liu will travel to Darfur on Tuesday, the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict which has left 200,000 people dead and 2.5m homeless.

This visit comes after it was revealed that China sold more weapons — both light and heavy arms — to Sudan.

One can see China's influence within Sudan as the up-and-coming superpower tries its best to gain political support in the whole of Africa — in a way filling the void there — as well as taking advantage of the continent's energy resources. While China is helping development there, it is also overlooking major human rights abuses, and, in some cases, encouraging them.

Bejing's relationship with Khartoum, as well as its human rights abuses at home, has led such heavyweights as Stephen Spielberg to denounce China and call for a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Try as it may to play down human rights fears, but there are supporters of human rights just as stubborn as the abusers — i.e. the Chinese government — themselves.

It's time to get serous with China about its support of the genocidal Sudanese regime. However, powers such as the US should not isolate the emerging giant in its race for economic supremacy or they will find themselves in a tough spot once China has the upper hand.

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