By Op Rana
The international community has made it a habit to associate
China with the Darfur crisis at every gathering, be it official or
unofficial. The onus, it says, is on China to bring peace to the
Darfur region of Sudan.
No country, and more so China, doubts the gravity of the
situation in Darfur.
It's true China enjoys a good relationship with Sudan. It's true
again that trade between the two countries has increased. But it's
also true that China has been doing everything in its power to
pressure the Sudan government to resolve the Darfur issue.
By all accounts, China played a key role in making Sudan accept
the Annan Plan. Now the Sudanese government has accepted the plan's
third phase to allow a "hybrid" peacekeeping force of the African
Union (AU) and the UN.
The long-sought joint peacekeeping force will combine the
existing 7,000 AU force with as many as 20,000 additional military
personnel and civilian policemen under UN command.
If there are hurdles in the path of this plan, they have
certainly not been created by China. UN analysts say most of the
additional troops will not be able to reach Darfur before early
next year. In the interim, the existing AU force can only be
provided with extra logistical support from non-African countries
such as, mark it, engineers from China.
The international community has been pressuring China mainly
because it did not agree with a UK-France sponsored resolution that
would have allowed the "hybrid" force "to use all necessary means"
to protect humanitarian workers and other civilians. But it was not
acceptable to Sudan in the first place. And two, China is not the
only UN Security Council member to oppose it. Russia is against it,
Then consider this: the draft British-French resolution had an
authorized ceiling of 19,555 military personnel and 6,400 policemen
that could cost up to US$2 billion in the first year of operation.
The US administration has been a leading advocate of deploying a
robust peacekeeping force in Darfur. That's fine, except that the
Bush administration is impeding this process by defaulting on its
obligatory payments to the UN peacekeeping budget.
Total US arrears are estimated to be more than US$500 million,
and they could exceed US$1 billion by the end of the year. The EU,
too, is facing difficulties in fulfilling its promised monetary
help to the AU force.
So if the Annan Plan does not work according to plan, can China
be blamed for it? Will the pressure on China mount further to
arm-twist Sudan into accepting every point that the international
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel is perhaps the only Western
leader to have actually spoken about the root of the problem. In a
signed article in The Guardian, he writes: "It is
important for international actors to assure Sudan's government
that the UN-AU mission will not strive for regime change."
Co-signed by Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, French
philosopher Andr Glucksmann, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mary Robinson, anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace laureate
Desmond Tutu and others, the article continues: "Moreover, because
Darfur is emblematic of wider difficulties, the international
community must look beyond the immediate circumstances and increase
efforts to deal with the threats that have played a role in the
disaster, such as climate change and environmental degradation.
Indeed, the accelerating expansion of deserts will likely lead to a
decrease of agricultural yields, less water, and possibly further
conflicts. Similar conditions exist in several locations worldwide.
So the global nature of this problem must be addressed in places
where environmental degradation is already bringing about a
dangerous deterioration in peoples' lives. Early prevention is
Why doesn't the international community realize the Sudan
government has to be convinced that the UN-AU mission will not
strive for regime change and that the lack of resources in the fast
expanding desert are the main causes of the conflict between
Sudanese Arabs and their Sudanese African victims?
Hasn't this lack of resources split the Darfur conflict along
racial lines? Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's
Earth Institute, explains that better: "When you are dealing with
very hungry people and desperately poor people, unless you also put
forward a realistic and viable development option, you can't make
China has been insisting for some time now that the root of the
problem is poverty and lack of resources. Immediate international
intervention to stop the killings and rapes in Darfur will not
yield the desired results if people are not ensured livelihood.
Sanctions and strong arm tactics against Sudan will only succeed in
Darfur is not the only crisis for which the international
community has blamed China. Not long ago, it used to be accused of
"sheltering" the North Korea. Beijing was blamed for every "slip"
that Pyongyang made - the result of realpolitik and Cold War
But look at where negotiations with the North Korea have reached
today. The US has "agreed to lift sanctions" against it and "remove
it from its list of states that sponsor terrorism". Before that,
the US had even offered direct help to North Korea's flood victims.
Unfortunately, the floods have forced North Korea to defer its
summit with South Korea from August 28-30 to October 2-4, which
will affect the progress of the six-party talks.
North Korea, however, has already shut down its Yongbyong
nuclear facility, and has promised to give up its entire nuclear
program. The ball to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue has
been set rolling. The US, Japan, the ROK and Russia have never been
more satisfied with the progress of the six-party talks. And the
world knows the role China has played in this.
China may have some weaknesses (and which country doesn't) but
not fulfilling its global responsibility is certainly not one of
them. All it wants is to proceed carefully, keeping everyone's
interest in mind and give peace a chance.
It's time world leaders stopped misleading the people with their
disinformation campaign against China for all the wrong
The author is a senior editor with China Daily.
(China Daily September 5, 2007)