Sunday, October 17, 2004

China Supporting Sudanese Genocide?

A tip of the cap to Glenn Reynolds, whose Instapundit blog is my favorite, for the heads up on this story from the Independent.

In short, the story claims that China is using diplomacy to water down and/or prevent the UN from taking action in Sudan. Why run cover for genocide? Oil. The Chinese use diplomacy to generate favor and to continue purchasing Sudanese oil for China's rapidly industrializing economy.

The key paragraphs:

China was identified by diplomats as the member responsible for watering down last month's Security Council resolution which threatened to halt Sudan's oil exports if it did not stop atrocities in the Darfur region, where Arab militias are terrorising African villagers.
Beijing oil imports jumped 35 per cent this year and its reliance on a growing number of rogue states to meet its needs is putting it on a collision course with the United States. Sudan and Iran together supply 20 per cent of China's oil imports, and if economic sanctions were applied to either, Beijing would be unable to sustain its high growth rates.
As China industrializes, cheap and plentiful oil are necessary to fuel economic growth. Given the recent instability of the global oil markets, this might seem hard to engineer for anyone. However, China has sunk a significant amount of capital, in the form of trade agreements, cash, loans, and diplomatic support, into Sudan. It seems that even wholesale slaughter is not enough to stop this.

The article then goes on to sum up China's not so nice foreign policy partners:

Beijing is already under fire for its support of Burma, North Korea and Iran, countries also accused of breaches of international law. China was also singled out in the recently released Charles Duelfer report on Iraq's WMD, along with Russia and France, for breaching the UN sanctions against Iraq and subverting the oil-for-food programme. But China is almost alone in supporting Sudan. After the US imposed sanctions in November 1997, the rest of the world - apart from companies from Pakistan, India and Malaysia - have kept their distance.
The future of China is an important one for the entire world. Glenn Reynolds is correct in showing that this demonstrates again the limits of multilateral diplomacy. Correctly, he points out that it can only work in a world and on specific issues where all the great powers have a common interest. Unfortunately, this is not often the case and does not appear likely to become a more frequent occurence in the future.

On a larger note, the US has invested significantly in China. We have delinked trade and human rights after the Chinese called Clinton's bluff on MFN. American companies have invested and will continue to invest as much as possible in China. We have worked, even under Bush, to keep China as a friend and done much to accomodate them. The US is heavily invested in the strategy of engagement paying off with China.

As someone who watches China from afar, I am not so certain this will work. The Chinese have shown themselves to excel at foreign policy. They consistently seem to take the long view, which we struggle with in an electoral based democracy. The Chinese have ties with some of the world's worst regimes. They have assisted in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, much of the time, work at cross purposes with the US. Engagement might come back to haunt us in the future.

More on this later.