The escalation of oil dispute between Sudan and its newly independent neighbor South Sudan has showed no sign of easing this week, fueling deep concern among the international community.
Both sides should exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from making reckless moves. Khartoum and Juba should understand it serves neither side's interests if a full-scale war breaks out between them.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday strongly condemned the recent aerial bombardments in South Sudan by the Sudanese Armed Forces, calling on Khartoum to "cease hostilities immediately" and urging the two neighbors to return to dialogue at an early date.
The recent battle between the two neighbors was engaged in the oil-rich Heglig region before the South Sudanese forces withdrew on Sunday.
The Heglig oilfield has been at the center of decades of civil war in Sudan. After South Sudan won independence in July, how to split the oil wealth has remained one of the bitterly contested issues between the two sides.
Given that the oil is an economic lifeline for both countries, they should remain cool-headed and resolve the dispute through negotiation.
The fact that most of the oil infrastructure of the region is in Sudan while over 70 percent of its oil reserves are in South Sudan indicates any unilateral action will not help either side.
The two countries have common interests and growing interdependency. If the two neighbors properly handle their dispute, they can arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. War will only deal a heavy blow to the two economies and result in further suffering for the two peoples.
How to balance their interests and find a solution acceptable to both will test the political wisdom of leaders in both countries.
In the last decade, China has successfully built a vast commercial relationship with the two sides and many Chinese companies are operating in and near the volatile region.
As a friendly partner of both Sudan and South Sudan, China continually endeavors to ease disagreements between the two sides. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit is on a week-long visit to China, and no doubt Beijing will seize the opportunity to offer more mediation and work with the international community to push for reconciliation and talks.
Meanwhile, Khartoum and Juba should do everything possible to ensure the safety of Chinese workers and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies in the two countries.