By Liu Guijin
China and the Arab nations have a long tradition of interaction. Even before Zheng He's voyages over 600 years ago, China had both direct and indirect contacts with Arabic nations through economic and cultural links. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China-Arab relations have continued to advance. The China-Arab Cooperation Forum provides a favorable platform for wide-ranging links between China and the Arab nations.
As we are aware, there are people in the world, especially in Western countries, determined to associate events in Darfur with China, and even with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. This perplexes many Chinese, not least my own colleagues, with the result that I am often asked what exactly the issues in Darfur are. Where is Darfur? Why do events in Darfur have anything to do with the Olympics?
I always try to provide a coherent response to these queries.
Some Western non-governmental organizations and the Western media are uncomfortable with the level of cooperation between China and Sudan, particularly in such fields as the oil business. According to them, the objective of China's assistance to Sudan in oil exploration and extraction, along with two other Asian partners, is to provide the government of Sudan with petrodollars which can in turn be used for the purchase of armaments from China. These will then be used to carry out the so-called massacres allegedly taking place in Darfur. Thus, the responsibility for these alleged massacres is China's.
My view is that there is no substance to these accusations. Companies have been exploring oil in developing countries for many years, far longer than China has. However, no Western media or non-governmental organizations hold that their own governments should therefore take responsibility for internal issues in those countries where they exploit oil. This is a clear case of double standards.
We consider that cooperation in the oil business between China and Sudan is normal, beneficial, transparent, open and non-exclusive. Sudan is also open to working with Western companies. For their own reasons they are reluctant to work with Sudan in this field. China, India and Malaysia have formed a partnership in this area, which in my opinion is of benefit to Sudan and to all the people of Sudan, including those from southern Sudan.
China's weapons export policy is conservative and limited. Our country adheres strictly to international regulations, and respects the United Nations' requirements with regard to transparency in the matter of small arms exports.
Statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute show that in 2006 the United States topped the world's weapons exports market, with nearly 30 percent of the total. Following them were Russia, Germany, France and Britain. With only slightly more than 2 percent of world conventional arms exports, China ranked just sixth.