- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2008


On Sunday, China’s envoy to Darfur, Liu Guijin, urged greater cooperation on the part of Sudanese officials, who have refused to allow more than half of a 26,000-member, U.N.-sanctioned peacekeeping force into the region. China also said it has given five aid packages valued at $11 million to help with Darfur, and is including a humanitarian aid package of nearly $2.8 million in its new budget.

While this assistance, along with the estimated $50 million spent by Chinese businesses to help with pipelines, water wells and other development projects, is useful to abate humanitarian needs. Certainly, it is gratifying to hear that China has finally exerted pressure on the government of Sudan to end the Darfur conflict, but Beijing needs to move beyond rhetoric. Only substantive solutions will end the genocidal crisis and bring peace to Sudan.

“It is certainly admirable for the Chinese to provide more assistance for the situation in Darfur, but it pales in comparison with the financial deals they have struck within the last 12 months,” said Allyn Brooks-LaSure, spokesman for the Save Darfur Coalition, referring to China’s hefty investments in Sudan’s oil industry. In 2007, crude-oil exports from Sudan to China more than doubled to 200,000 barrels a day. It seems China is eager to fill the vacancy left by the United States and most Western nations who have backed away from Sudanese businesses. China is also Sudan’s largest weapons supplier, and these munitions deals have allowed Khartoum to continue its assault on Darfurians, including airstrikes earlier this month.

This latest outreach from China stemmed in part from the negative publicity generated by film director Steven Spielberg, who resigned from his position as artistic director of the 2008 Summer Olympic in Beijing, because of China’s inaction on the question of Darfur.

But China must do more than offer humanitarian assistance and make lofty speeches about “soft measures” for nudging Khartoum to stop the violence, which has led to the deaths of some 200,000 people and the displacement of 2.5 million more. As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China must pull its weight as a world leader within the international community and help provide the transport helicopters needed to support the U.N. peacekeepers. No amount of pomp and circumstance will divert the world’s eyes from their inaction in Sudan.

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