The Chinese government put out two statements on Sudan yesterday, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang calling China a “responsible country” that has “made great efforts for peace and stability in Darfur.” In the same statement, the Foreign Ministry argued:
China opposes any acts that might interfere with the peaceful overall situation of Darfur and Sudan…All parties should think carefully before taking actions.
Perhaps this is a poor translation, but it does seem over the top if Beijing is indeed claiming that the international community’s greatest worry is upsetting the “peaceful” situation in Darfur and Sudan as a whole. Indeed, the actions of President Bashir since the arrest warrant make clear that neither peace nor stability are a particularly high priority for Sudan’s government. Khartoum’s decision to expel humanitarian agencies from Darfur could lead to a humanitarian emergency and the further destabilization of Darfur — while necessitating the kind of international intervention that China has always feared.
Shortly following their statement on the ICC warrant, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, refuted accusations that China’s involvement in Africa is tantamount to “colonialism.” Wu insisted that Sino-African relations are based on “mutual benefits,” and pledged China’s intent to increase aid and grant debt relief to African nations in the coming year.
As Sudan’s largest trading partner, and with its tradition of offering support to the Sudanese military, it’s not surprising that China continues to call for an Article 16 deferral of the arrest warrant for President Bashir. Hopefully, the Chinese leadership will increasingly understand that Bashir’s ruinous approach to Darfur is bad for business, bad for China’s standing in the international community, and bad for Sudan’s prospects for long-term stability.