(KAMPALA, 3rd November 2006) African campaigners have today urged China to do more to help the people of Darfur in Sudan. The call comes as African leaders prepare to participate in the opening of the China Africa Forum in Beijing.
“China is now a crucial player in Africa and the opportunities for a productive partnership are huge. But we will only realise these opportunities if China also upholds its responsibilities,” said Dismas Nkunda, spokesperson for the group.
“Darfur needs China’s help now. In particular, China must fully support the African Union (AU)’s call for the deployment of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers to protect civilians in Darfur.”
So far China has remained muted on the issue, even abstaining from the United Nations (UN) vote that authorised the deployment. “China’s silence not only undermines the AU’s efforts in Darfur, it also means civilians are being killed who could otherwise have been protected.”
Nkunda said that the group had written to China urging that it:
* Support the African Union by actively encouraging the Sudanese government to allow the expansion of the UN mission in Sudan and the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Darfur;
* Assist the African Union and the United Nations to effect the deployment by providing political, financial and technical support;
* Discourage the Sudanese Government’s military scale up in Darfur; and
* Urge government and rebel groups to adhere to the ceasefire and commit to a finding a political solution to the conflict.
China invested over US$32 billion in Africa last year. It owns a 40% stake in Sudan’s oil industry. Estimates suggest that almost 10% of China’s oil comes from Sudan. China has also reportedly sold large quantities of arms and ammunition to the Government of Sudan.
“China cannot hide behind the idea of non-interference in other countries’ affairs when it props up their economies and supplies them with weaponry. We believe China has the potential to influence Sudan and help bring an end to this crisis. Unless China backs the African Union consensus on Darfur, it will look increasingly like its silence can be bought for a few drums of oil,” said Nkunda.