China Protects Sudan from Sanctions

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 5/31/2007 03:19:00 AM
To America’s chagrin, China has taken a realpolitik stance towards the task of securing resources needed by its fast-growing economy by cultivating ties with states that America has iffy relations with. In line with its professed policy of non-intervention in other states’ domestic affairs, China makes for a desirable partner for these African, Asian, and Latin American states by making no demands for political transparency, economic reform, or human rights; providing markets for their raw materials; and supplying investment, trade, training, and weapons. Last but not least, China is also there to water down UN sanctions on these countries.

Today's case in point is Sudan. After we last saw this topic, China became more willing to work on the matter of prodding Sudan after Mia Farrow tagged the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing the "Genocide Olympics." Apparently, the largely world opinion-insensitive China has a weak spot in the Games being sullied by such accusations:

For the past two years, China has protected the Sudanese government as the United States and Britain have pushed for United Nations Security Council sanctions against Sudan for the violence in Darfur.

But in the past week, strange things have happened. A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai even went all the way to Darfur and toured three refugee camps, a rare event for a high-ranking official from China, which has extensive business and oil ties to Sudan and generally avoids telling other countries how to conduct their internal affairs.

So what gives? Credit goes to Hollywood -- Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg in particular. Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur, which, until recently, Beijing had not seemed too concerned about.

Ms. Farrow, a good-will ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund, has played a crucial role, starting a campaign last month to label the Games in Beijing the ''Genocide Olympics'' and calling on corporate sponsors and even Mr. Spielberg, who is an artistic adviser to China for the Games, to publicly exhort China to do something about Darfur. In a March 28 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, she warned Mr. Spielberg that he could ''go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games,'' a reference to a German filmmaker who made Nazi propaganda films.

Four days later, Mr. Spielberg sent a letter to President Hu Jintao of China, condemning the killings in Darfur and asking the Chinese government to use its influence in the region ''to bring an end to the human suffering there,'' according to Mr. Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy.

China soon dispatched Mr. Zhai to Darfur, a turnaround that served as a classic study of how a pressure campaign, aimed to strike Beijing in a vulnerable spot at a vulnerable time, could accomplish what years of diplomacy could not.

However, China is now signaling that further sanctions on Darfur like those recently applied by the United States may be rather unwelcome. If these measures don't work, then the UN can always call on its ultimate resource for prodding China on the Darfur issue--UNICEF rep Mia Farrow. But first, here is the People's Daily:

China said yesterday that it opposed expanded sanctions against Sudan as the United States unveiled tough new restrictions against the African country and pushed for another UN resolution on Darfur.

"Imposing new sanctions only makes the problem more difficult to resolve," China's recently-appointed special envoy to Africa Liu Guijin told a news conference after a fact-finding trip to Sudan.

Expanding sanctions is the last thing that should be done, especially at a time when signs of progress can be seen in Darfur, including talks between Khartoum, the African Union (AU) and the UN, Liu said.

"In these circumstances, why can't the international community give more time for a peaceful settlement of the problem?" he asked.

China is encouraging Sudan to be "more flexible" about implementing a peace plan, and also wants fragmented opposition forces in Darfur to join talks and reach a unified negotiating position, he added...

Political negotiations should go hand in hand with the implementation of former UN chief Kofi Annan's three-phase peace plan, Liu said.

Liu also urged some countries not to politicize Sino-Sudanese energy collaboration, saying it was normal business activity and has, indeed, helped social and economic development in the poverty-stricken country.

Liu said poverty is the real cause of the problems in Darfur; and development is the solution.

Over the past years, China has donated more than $10 million to the region, some in the form of humanitarian aid such as rice, and the rest in development aid such as building schools, water projects and power generators.

In brief remarks at the White House yesterday, US President George W. Bush followed through on a threat made six weeks ago to pursue tougher action against Sudan.

Bush directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to consult with Britain and other allies on pursuing new UN Security Council sanctions against Sudan.

The aim of a new resolution, he said, would be to impose new sanctions against the Sudanese government and officials found to be violating human rights or obstructing the peace process, and to enforce an expanded embargo on arm sales to the government of Sudan.

"It will prohibit the Sudanese government from conducting any offensive military flights over Darfur. It will strengthen our ability to monitor and report any violations," he added.

As part of the tightening of US sanctions, Bush said the US Treasury Department will bar 31 companies owned or controlled by Sudan from doing business in the US financial system, including a company he said that has been transporting weapons to the Sudanese government and militia forces in Darfur.