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China wields considerable clout in Khartoum and Juba, the South’s capital. Chinese companies, along with those from India and Malaysia, dominate the oil and petrochemicals sector in Sudan and South Sudan.

The Obama administration has been working closely with Beijing to try to prevent a full-fledged war between Sudan and South Sudan.

China has investments throughout the area and also benefits from stability,” Ms. Nuland said. “So we have been working to enlist Beijing and to work together on a common message.”