Attempt to spoil China’s good standing with Sudan underway in the West

A plan apparently aimed at discrediting Sino-Sudanese cooperation is being cooked up by a so-called United Nations committee which monitors sanctions against Sudan, including an arms embargo on Darfur.

A BBC report said Thursday that “China is trying to prevent a report which says Chinese bullets have been used against peacekeepers in Darfur from being published, diplomats say.”

Omar Al-Bashir and Hu Jintao

According to the BBC, the report which is being discussed by the UN committee against arms embargo says that a dozen different brands of Chinese bullet casings have been found in Darfur, some at sites where attacks on UN troops took place. The report, prepared by a panel of experts, was intended to be published after being formally presented to the UN Security Council.

The report however did not provide sources or provide any evidence related to the issue. Following a meeting of the UN committee on Wednesday, Chinese diplomat Zhao Baogang said his government strongly objected to the report.

“Where did they get the informed sources? No evidence is given,” he said, adding that the report “lacks confirmed facts”.

He added: “How can we agree on those recommendations? We ask them to improve the work of the methodology.”

The UN panel previously claimed that large amounts of foreign arms and ammunition are being trafficked into Darfur and fuelling the conflict between the government and rebel groups.

By implication, presenting a report that Chinese bullet casings have been found in Darfur and at some sites where attacks on UN troops took place, without evidence or sources in the report simply goes further to confirm the fact that China’s growing cooperation with Sudan does not put smiles on the faces of Western nations who some how may feel sidelined by Omar Al Bashir’s government in areas of construction, general business and exploitation of natural resources.

The Sudanese government’s preference for China over other countries has deepened bilateral relations between the two nations. China and a few other Arab nations were awarded the construction contract for the Merowe dam. The dam is the longest of its kind on the world’s famous Nile River in Sudan’s Northern Province, some 450 km north of the capital city Khartoum. With a length of 9.7 km and a maximum height of 67 meters, the Merowe Dam is a multipurpose project designed for power supply and agricultural irrigation. Its dimensions make it the largest contemporary hydropower project in Africa. The dam was built by a joint venture formed by China Water Resources and Hydropower and China International Water and Electric Corp. The project receives funding from China Import Export Bank to the tune of EURO 240 million.

China recently did not ally with other nations in welcoming the International Criminal Court’s warrant of arrest against Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir – warrant is the first to be issued to a sitting head of state – thus many leaders including those in Africa and other developing regions did not welcome the ICC’s decision.

In the meantime, some experts at the UN in New York see the UN Darfur allegations against China as controversial. Some say China has the right to sell munitions to Khartoum as long as they are not used in Darfur.

This however further strengthens the fact that the allegations against China aim at spoiling China’s good standing with Sudan by various circles in the west. If China sells munitions to Khartoum – that is if China ever did sold munitions to Khartoum – how on earth can China ensure that those weapons are not used in Darfur? Secondly, that Chinese bullet casings were found in Darfur and in areas where UN troops were attacked is interpreted to mean that China is selling munitions to rebels or warring parties could be a big joke.

Rushing to tell the media that “China is trying to prevent a report which says Chinese bullets have been used against peacekeepers in Darfur from being published” without providing evidence is a blunder from the diplomats I question. One may not be wrong to say that the real aim of the report by the UN committee against arms embargo in Darfur is to spoil Sino-Sudanese cooperation and portray China as an enemy to peace in Darfur.

The UN says that about 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and more than 2.6 million displaced since rebels took up arms there in 2003.

About the Author: Manzie Vincent Doh is Assistant Editor at M4 Media Group in Beijing.

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