Lampooning PRC 'Non-Interference' in South Sudan

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 1/21/2014 08:54:00 AM
Does China side with President Salva Kiir or Rick Machar? Both? Neither?
 Us folks working in development studies are simply fascinated by the mysterious foreign aid activities of China. Unlike rich countries which are members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and disclose who receives their aid, for which projects and in what amount, China does not feel an obligation to do so. A few years ago now, China released a white paper on foreign aid that gave a fleeting glimpse of its aid practices, albeit without disclosing how much it has actually provided over the years and much more.

China's practices do not really qualify as "official development aid" in the Western OECD sense. As AidData noted:
Chinese foreign aid has long been a subject of scrutiny and controversy. It doesn’t easily fit into the OECD’s definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA). Much is financed through the China Eximbank in the form of concessional loans that directly support Chinese economic interests, and carried out by embassies and consulates rather than development agencies. Most importantly, project-level data on Chinese aid is essentially non-existent
Such lack of transparency and emphasis on extractive industries in places alike the African continent occasions much hand-wringing. The cartoon above lampoons China on two of its main selling points to the rest of the world: (1) its non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and (2) its status as a developing country alike them. South Sudan's early post-independence years are turning out to be tumultuous indeed, with political factions fighting in what remains an exceedingly poor country despite its vast energy reserves.

As is often the case, the countries that can least afford such unproductive conflicts often engage in them. The cartoon asks us, is China making the situation in South Sudan worse because of its indifference to politics for as long as it gets its cut of energy supplies? You can argue that China is caught in the midst of someone else's conflict it has played little part in fostering. OTOH, its indifference combined with a generous dole out to those willing to support its energy extraction needs may literally be fueling the conflict. At any rate, the current conflict crimping its supply is urging it to mediate to some extent between the two sides--both of which whose favor it has courted before.

There are no easy answers. All the same, China should be increasingly mindful about how Africans are portraying its activities as in the cartoon above.