It's like sitting around a dinner table: Westerners use forks
and knives, Chinese prefer chopsticks, and Arabs and Indians their
hands. The mediums may be different, the purpose is the same.
Why should all of us have to use forks and knives? You should
not force others to use the medium you like. The same applies to
the negotiation table. The solution to a problem is more important
than the means employed.
Coercion and confrontation "will lead us nowhere".
This is how China's special envoy to Darfur Liu Guijin describes
the Darfur issue.
"China insists on using influence without interference, and we
know respect for all the parties is vital to finding a solution,"
Liu said in an interview with China Daily.
"If the situation in Darfur gets out of control or if it gets
too late before a solution is found, it will hurt the interest of
not only the people in Darfur, but also the international
But to find a fair solution, "you have to learn how to deal with
the Sudanese government" because no peacekeeping operation can be
smooth without its support, Liu said. The international community
should not forget that it is a "legitimate government that deserves
"We sit together to solve the problem and restore peace in
Darfur, not to punish one side in favor of another."
China has been trying to find a solution agreeable to all the
parties. It has been trying to alleviate the suffering of the
It sent a team of agriculture experts to Sudan last month to
study the possibility of setting up an agriculture technology
"Such help targets the right cause of the conflict -
China has already given US$10 million in humanitarian aid and
promised to offer more.
China has used its ties with Sudan to build infrastructure such
as schools, hospitals and water projects. But their relations have
been politicized by a section of the media and some NGOs and
politicians, Liu said.
Only 8.7 percent of the oil exports from Africa came to China
last year, compared to 36 percent that went to Europe and 33
percent to the US. "If 8.7 percent is exploitation, how about 33
and 36 percent?" Liu said.
The Darfur issue has been unfairly played up partly because of
the presidential election campaign in the US, he said. "Certain US
politicians like to play up Darfur to show that they are standing
on a higher moral ground."
And the people trying to connect Darfur with the 2008 Beijing
Olympic Games, Liu said, are either ignorant of reality or steeped
in obsolete Cold War ideology. "They tend to distort China's stance
and refuse to recognize the constructive role China has
"It is not China's Darfur, it is first Sudan's Darfur and then
Africa's Darfur. We have cooperated, and will continue to cooperate
on the Darfur issue, instead of confronting with other countries
The Sudanese government has always been ready to talk with the
political groups. It has accepted the "hybrid peacekeeping force"
in Darfur unconditionally. Now, the UN is deliberating a resolution
that will officially endorse the deployment of the "hybrid
There are differences, too, among Darfur's political groups,
especially because they have now been divided into smaller factions
with new demands, Liu said. So "more negotiations and compromises
are needed to find a common ground".
The Second International Conference on Darfur, held in Tripoli
from July 15 to 16, was a turning point for the political process,
said Liu, who was among the participants.
All the parties agreed that the political process had fallen
behind the peacekeeping efforts, and needed to be expedited because
peacekeeping alone cannot restore real and long-time peace, he
The Tripoli meeting sent a strong message to the political
groups in Darfur, too, that negotiations were the right way to
resolve disputes, Liu said.
It was decided at the meeting that the parties would not join
any initiative that didn't have the backing of the UN and the
African Union (AU). "That's very important because all the parties
play out their acts on a common stage," he said.
The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) reached in Abuja, capital of
Nigeria, in 2006 should serve as a foundation for negotiations with
political groups that didn't sign the peace deal.
"The DPA is the result of years' negotiation. There is no need
to discard it and start from scratch."
It is still hard to say how much the Sudanese government will
compromise and how much the political groups will ask for, he
The UN and AU special envoys for Darfur, Jan Eliasson and Salim
Ahmed Salim, have invited leaders of Darfur's political groups that
have not signed a peace agreement with the government to a meeting
in Arusha, Tanzania, next week.
"That is a positive sign," Liu said.
China insists on a simple and practical resolution. "We should
not put more differences in the UN resolution, or else the
bargaining will continue forever and become more complicated," Liu
(China Daily July 27, 2007)