CHINA AND SUDAN
China has great influence in Sudan. China protects Sudan from unwanted United Nations attention with its Security Council veto and is Sudan’s largest trading partner. Chinese loans, oil purchases and trade bring in billions in foreign currency, vital to run Sudan’s economy and to buy weapons.
Before Sudan and South split China bought two third of Sudan’s oil. Still, it continues to sell Sudan weapons and military aircraft, A Chinese state-owned company owns 40 percent of oil concessions in southern of Sudan, the site of the long Sudanese civil war. There are reportedly 4,000 Chinese troops in southern Sudan protecting its oil interests there.
China gave President Oma al Bashir money to build a new palace. In February 2009, Hu reiterated Chinese support for Sudan. In February 2012, Sudan asked China for help solving the oil dispute between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan.
China, Sudan and Darfur
China has used its seat on the United Nations Security Council to dilute resolutions aimed at pressuring the Sudanese to stop the killing in Darfur. One human rights groups reported that China was the main supplier for small arms used in Darfur. In Darfur government-backed militias have battle rebels since 2003, leaving more than 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced. On Darfur, China insists it has been unfairly targeting on the Darfur issue. A government spokesman said, “China has been using its influenced the largest extent possible to persuade the relevant parties to resolve the situation.
United Nations leader Ban Ki Moon has suggested that China use it influence over Sudan to help solve the Dafur crisis. In 2007, the actress Mia Farrow and the French politician Francious Bayori called on sponsors and athletes to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics to pressure China to do more to stop the violence in Darfur. Fareed Zakaria wrote in Newsweek, that punishing China “because it buys oil from Sudan carries the notion of responsibility too far. After all the United States has much closer ties to Saudi Arabia, a medieval monarchy that has funded Islamic terror. Should the world boycott America for this relationship?”
In the late 2000s China tried to overcome its negative image over Sudan It has offered to mediate Darfur negotiations, supported a United Nations resolution calling for a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur and has sent a total of 315 Chinese peacekeepers, equipped with 145 heavy vehicles, to Dafur in late 2007. Most of the peacekeepers were engineers. At the same though t is believed that China still sends weapons to Sudan and provides money that helps prop up the government.
Darfur and the 2008 Olympics
In February 2008, filmmaker Steven Spielberg said he was withdrawing from his position as creative advisor for the opening and closing ceremonies because of China was not using its influence to help improve the situation Darfur. Spielberg said, “I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual...The situation has never been more precarious---and while China’s representatives have conveyed to me that they are working to end the terrible tragedy in Darfur, the grim realities of the suffering continue unabated.”
The Chinese government expressed “regret” over Spielberg’s decision and said that efforts to link China to Darfur are “irresponsible and unfair.” The Chinese media condemned him and Western celebrities for politicizing the Olympics. The Guangming Daily said Spielberg “broke his promise” and “betrayed the Olympic spirit." According tot the People’s Daily. “A certain Western director was very naive and made an unreasonable move toward the issue of the Beijing Olympics?
The actress Mia Farrow was at forefront of the effort to use the Olympics to bring attention to China’s role in Sudan and Darfur. Farrow used the term “Genocide Olympics” to describe China’s role in Darfur in an op-ed piece written in the Wall Street Journal with her son Rinan Farrow. She put a lot of pressure on Spielberg and led an alternative Genocide Olympics torch relay of sites associated with genocide in Chad and Darfur, Rwanda and Cambodia aimed at showing Beijing that it may have hosted the Olympics but its connections with atrocities committed outside of China had not gone unnoticed. From Farrow’s camp there was talk of a boycott
Around the same time that Spielberg made his announcement a letter signed by eight Nobel Prize winners, 119 U.S. lawmakers and several entertainers was presented to the Chinese that called on them to use their “significant influence” in Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur. Mia Farrow organized the letter and wanted to give it personally to a Chinese official but was rebuffed and forced to slip the letter under the door of the Chinese consulate in New York.
Farrow is very active in group called Dream of Darfur, headed by Jill Savitt, that has had a degree of success pressuring China on the Darfur issue and has developed tactics employed by a number of anti-Beijing groups. A large scale Beijing Olympics campaign on the Darfur issue was first proposed by Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, at a meeting of Save Darfur. Activists have also lobbied corporate sponsors of the Olympics and mutual funds that invest in Chinese stocks.
Beijing officials have said any attempt to pressure them or disrupt the Olympics on the Darfur issue would fail. An article in the People’s Daily read, “Western exploitation of the Olympics to pressure China immediately provoked much disgust among ordinary Chinese. The vast majority of Chinese people have expressed bafflement and outrage at the Western pressure. In their view its absolutely absurd to place the Darfur issue, so many thousands of miles away, on the head of China.”
Even so China has seemed a little rattled by the bad publicity surrounding its involvement in Sudan. It announced it would send a group of peacekeepers to the United Nations mission in Darfur and expressed “grave concerns” to the Sudanese government about the violence in Darfur. See Sudan, International, Government
Team Darfur and the 2008 Olympics
Joey Cheek, an Olympics gold medalist in speed skating in 2006, founded Team Darfur, an international coalition of athletes seeking to bringing attention to the crisis in Darfur, had his visa revoked. The Chinese government did not say why the visa was revoked but did say: “The visa issue is a country’s sovereign affair. The purpose is to provide a proper, secure, environment for watching and attending the Games.”
On the Olympics, Cheek told National Public Radio, “In the same breath that they’re said to be apolitical, they’re said to be a celebration of human rights and they’re said to be a sporting festival we hope that can transcend mere sporting festivals. And when you lay claim to such lofty ideals, at some point...if are actually prepared to live the ideals you’re speaking of, you’re going to run into friction...When we talk about the crisis in Darfur, we talk about the millions of innocent people that are suffering there, and we talk about the positive role that China could play, should they chose to.”
Farrow, who is also associated with Team Darfur, was denied a visa. Nine American athletes---including two women’s softball players and a woman’s soccer play---who were affiliated with Team Darfur were put a potential “troublemakers” list by the Chinese government but were allowed to compete. Save Darfur has had its website mucked with presumably, they say, by Chinese hackers.
China and Sudan Oil
Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: China imported more than half the oil it consumed last year, with Africa its biggest source after the Middle East. The country’s largest African supplier by far was Angola, but most of that oil was simply purchased, not produced, by Chinese companies. In the Sudan region, by contrast, CNPC---the dominant partner in foreign consortiums operating there---actually pumped the oil from the ground. [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, December 24, 2011]
China, which gets nearly a third of its imported crude oil from Africa, has invested billions of dollars in the past 15 years to pump crude from this war-scarred land. But the division of what until five months ago was a united country has pushed Beijing into a political minefield in defense of its assets, straining China’s “just business” insistence that it doesn’t get involved in the internal affairs of foreign lands.
Chinese customs figures show that China imported 92 million barrels of crude from Sudan in 2010, or 70 percent of Sudan’s total oil exports as reported by the then united country’s Central Bank. China is also Sudan’s main supplier of arms and has big interests in railways and other Sudanese ventures. China’s economic interests in Sudan are so substantial that, according to a 2008 State Department cable published by WikiLeaks, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the United States that they trump Beijing’s loyalty to Bashir. China “does not care what happens to Bashir, and would not oppose his arrest if its revenues were not interrupted,” Ocampo was cited as saying in a cable under the heading “China only wants oil, it doesn’t care about Bashir.” [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, June 22, 2011]
China, Oil and Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: When the International Criminal Court in The Hague indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on war-crimes charges in Darfur in 2009, Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee and a former CNPC boss who had led the company’s 1990s expansion into Sudan, visited Khartoum to attend the opening of a Chinese-built refinery. He declared himself an “old friend of the Sudanese president.” [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, June 22, 2011]
In June 2011, venturing outside Africa on his first official journey since the International Criminal Court the issued a warrant for his arrest on genocide charges, Bashir visited China confident of one thing: He won’t get arrested. Bashir sorted that out two months before when he sent a trusted aide to Beijing for a meeting with Zhou Yongkang, the Chinese Politburo member responsible for law and order---and the former head of the China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), an enormous state oil company with billions of dollars invested in Sudan.
Oil has for years been the bedrock of China’s warm relations with Bashir, who was first indicted by the ICC in 2008, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to murder, rape, torture, ethnic cleansing and other actions in Darfur.
CNPC, South Sudan and Sudan
Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: China’s involvement revolves largely around the interests of a single company, the China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, a state-owned giant that, in its quest to match the global reach of Western oil majors and to feed China’s appetite for fuel, has dragged usually risk-averse Chinese diplomats into one of Africa’s most poisonous feuds. [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, December 24, 2011]
In the vanguard of China’s pursuit of energy and profit overseas, CNPC began looking abroad nearly two decades ago, just as Chinese industry’s appetite for oil started to overtake domestic production. Since then the company has invested in ventures from Peru and Venezuela to Iraq and Kazakhstan. But nowhere has CNPC poured in so much money and caused itself---and the Chinese government---so many headaches as in Sudan.
CNPC first plunged into Sudan, taking over fields originally developed by the U.S. company Chevron, which, alarmed by mounting violence, had pulled out. Shortly after this, Washington in 1997 imposed economic sanctions on Sudan, which it declared as a “sponsor of terrorism and a relentless oppressor of its minority Christian population.”
As Western companies retreated from Sudan as the violence escalated there, CNPC advanced, boosting production and investing in a pipeline to the Red Sea that, in 1999, allowed the first oil exports from Sudan. Stories spread of atrocities linked to CNPC’s oil wells, including accounts of Chinese-supplied helicopters gunning down villagers as the Sudanese military moved in to clear and secure oil-producing areas. Not all of the accounts were true, but CNPC, steeped in the secretive ways of China’s ruling Communist Party, which appoints the company’s boss, mostly ignored pleas from outsiders for information and access.
By the time Sudan and southern rebels signed a peace accord in 2005 to end Africa’s longest civil war, “China was the devil in the minds of many people here,” said Alfred Sebit Lokuji, an expert in local development at Juba University.
China, Oil and South Sudan
Roughly 75 percent of the Sudan regions’s oil wealth lies in now South Sudan, which officially become a separate state in July 2011. Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: When CNPC first took a stake in oil fields here in 1996, China placed all its chips on a brutal regime in Khartoum, selling arms and providing diplomatic cover as al-Bashir battled to crush southern rebels in what is now South Sudan . “During the struggle of the people of South Sudan, China took the side of the government in Khartoum,” said Pagan Amum, the secretary-general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, or SPLM, a rebel outfit during the civil war that is now South Sudan’s ruling party. “But that is history, a troubled history, and we will not allow ourselves to be hostages of the past.”
With same rebels who battled Khartoum now running ministries in Juba in the new country of South Sudan, China is rushing to hedge its bets, offering Khartoum’s foes in the south a package of development aid and low-interest credit that hasn’t been announced but that officials here say could be worth as much as $10 billion. China has tried to stay neutral but gets sniped at by both sides. “It’s a dilemma for China,” said Cui Shoujun, director of the International Energy Research Center at Renmin University in Beijing. China “tries to balance the south and the north but hasn’t come up with an effective way to do this.”
When it became clear independence for South Sudan was likely, China shifted gears, opening a diplomatic mission in Juba and reaching out to the SPLM. CNPC also set about mending fences, funding a computer center at Juba University. When Sudan split in July, the oil company began moving staff members from Khartoum to Juba, setting up offices, a dormitory and a canteen in a cluster of prefabricated huts at a Chinese-run hotel. China’s embassy is in the same compound. [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, December 24, 2011]
Newly relocated CNPC staff members are shocked by Juba’s primitive conditions. A poster on their office wall warns of “Five Major Hazards”---a list of diseases endemic in South Sudan. But, one staffer noted, at “least they sell beer,” unlike in Khartoum, where alcohol is banned.
South Sudan, which gets 98 percent of its revenue from oil pumped by CNPC-led foreign operators, has tried to woo Chevron, Halliburton and other U.S. oil companies but found no takers, leaving China as its only real economic partner. “Reality makes us work with people who are not our friends,” said Lual Deng, a southerner who served in Khartoum as petroleum minister before the country split. “We would prefer Western companies, but they are not coming.” South Sudan wants to rework deals that date to when CNPC first plunged into Sudan
China’s money hasn’t opened all doors. Nihal Bor, the chief editor of the Citizen, a local newspaper, recalled how a Chinese diplomat stopped by ahead of an August visit to Juba by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and offered to pay for the publication of “an interview “ with Yang trumpeting Beijing’s friendship. But there was a snag: The paper would not get to see the minister, only to publish an embassy-scripted “interview” in return for cash. “We are not that desperate,” said the editor, who declined the offer.
Amum, the ruling party’s head, though, thinks China’s deep pockets offer the best hope for development in a country bigger than France but with only a few dozen miles of paved roads. China, he says, can help not just the oil industry, but also mining, agriculture and infrastructure. “There are no hard feelings,” Amum said. He has learned how to use chopsticks.
Chinese Workers Kidnapped in Sudan
In late January 2012, rebels in Sudan kidnapped 29 Chinese workers from a camp run by China's Power Construction Corp. in volatile South Kordofan. Eighteen other workers in the camp escaped the raid, which the Sudanese military blamed on the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North -- a rebel force in the border region with neighboring South Sudan. One worker died in the raid, according to Xinhua. [Source: Peter Shadbolt, CNN, February 7, 2012 ]
About a week later the workers were released after what Xinhua described as "a stream of intensive rescue efforts carried out by the Chinese government in collaboration with the Sudanese government and other parties." The Al-Adhdath daily newspaper in Khartoum earlier said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had mediated for the release. The 29 workers were flew out of Sudan aboard a Red Cross plane bound for Nairobi, Kenya, a statement from the ICRC said.
South Sudan became the world's newest nation last year after decades of conflict with the north. Nevertheless, violence in South Kordofan and the nearby Blue Nile states has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. While the region is in Sudanese territory, it straddles Sudan and South Sudan's ethnic and political lines.
China is Sudan's largest trading partner, while Sudan is China's third-largest trading partner in Africa. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, trade between the two countries reached $8.63 billion in 2010, an increase of 35.1 percent compared with the previous year. The close bilateral cooperation is mainly driven by oil exports from Sudan, which is among the top oil suppliers for China.
Chinese authorities come under criticism in the country’s social media for the government’s inability to protect workers abroad. An additional 25 Chinese workers were abducted by restive Bedouin tribesmen in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. The critics charged that as a superpower, China needed to project its economic, as well as its military, muscle to stand up for those who put their lives at risk for the national good -- much like the U.S. sent Navy Seals to rescue two hostages in Somalia.
In October 2008, nine oil workers in Sudan were kidnapped. Five of them were killed execution style, two escaped and two were still held in late October.
China and the Struggle Between Sudan and South Sudan
Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: “On the day South Sudan became independent in 2011, year, China opened an embassy here, eager to protect its oil interests. It quickly dispatched its foreign minister and began discussing a huge aid package for this destitute land. Just a few months later, Beijing found itself trapped in a bitter wrangle between South Sudan and its former rulers in Sudan, with both countries pressing Beijing to take their side. [Source: Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins, Washington Post , March 23 2012]
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March 2012 after a trip to South Sudan, Hollywood star George Clooney, a longtime critic of Bashir’s regime, noted that China’s massive investment in Sudan makes Beijing crucial to settling continuing violence in the region. China, he said, has invested about $20 billion, but “right now they are getting nothing from this” because of feuding between Khartoum and Juba. Clooney and several members of Congress were later arrested during a protest at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington. [Ibid]
The dispute has cut off a significant source of oil to fuel China’s booming economy and imperiled billions of dollars in Chinese investments. It has also threatened Beijing’s diplomatic and economic relations with both the countries and strained the boundaries of a long-standing Chinese policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations. “This new reality has left China uncomfortably stuck in the middle of a tug of war,” said Zach Vertin, a Sudan analyst with the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit think tank. “Both sides have attempted to leverage the Chinese oil interest and draw them in line with their own interests.”
After years of providing diplomatic cover and weapons to a regime in Khartoum ostracized by the West, China must face up to a simple fact, said Pagan Amum, the secretary general of South Sudan’s ruling party: “The master has changed. It was Khartoum. Now it is Juba.” China’s efforts to shift gears in Sudan began in 2005, with the signing of a peace deal between Khartoum and southern rebels. The agreement ended what was Africa’s longest civil war and paved the way for South Sudan’s independence in July. But officials today say that the Chinese have not done enough to erase suspicions rooted in Beijing’s long support for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, an indicted war-crimes suspect who used Chinese-supplied arms in trying to prevent the south from seceding. [Ibid]
China, Oil and the Struggle Between the Two Sudans
AFP reported: “Energy-hungry China is the largest purchaser of oil from South Sudan. South Sudan broke away from Sudan after a peace deal ended one of Africa's longest civil wars, which killed about two million people. But tensions soon flared up again over a series of unresolved issues, including the border, the future of disputed territories and oil. As a result of independence, the landlocked South Sudan took with it about 75 percent of the formerly united Sudan's oil production, worth billions of dollars. In a key dispute, the two sides were unable to agree on how much the South should pay to export its crude through a northern pipeline and port, leading the Juba government in January to shut its production after Khartoum began seizing the oil in lieu of payment in a row with Khartoum over pipelines fees. The poverty-stricken South said 98 percent of its pre-shutdown revenue came from oil. China used to be the biggest buyer of South Sudanese oil until the shutdown, [Source: AFP, April 28, 2012]
Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: “At the center of the struggle between the two Sudans is oil, which until last summer was controlled by Khartoum but which now lies mostly within the borders of the world’s newest state, the Republic of South Sudan. China is the biggest player in the oil industry on both sides of the frontier: It holds big stakes in the main oil fields in the south and in pipelines and other infrastructure in the north. [Ibid]
South Sudan, which depends on oil for 98 percent of its revenue, insists that it wants to remain partners with China. But South Sudanese officials warn that if Beijing does not align its interests with their country, they will seek out U.S. and Western oil companies. [Source: Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins, Washington Post , March 23 2012]
Khartoum, which depends heavily on Chinese investment, trade and aid, is determined to keep Beijing on its side. The government has exerted influence over Chinese-led oil consortiums, which pump most of their oil in the south but still need the north to get it to China. [Ibid] The south has refused to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties for using Sudan’s pipelines, saying that the fees were exorbitant. Sudan responded by seizing oil tankers carrying South Sudanese crude and imposed a blockade on the export of the oil. In March 2012 month, South Sudan shut down its oil production, roughly 350,000 barrels a day, after accusing Sudan of stealing $815 million worth of its oil. [Ibid]
South Sudan says it will pay less than $1 a barrel in fees to transport oil through the north’s pipelines. Khartoum says it wants $36 a barrel and $1 billion in back payments. The two sides are even fighting in a London court, as South Sudan seeks to recover money from the sale of the seized crude. South Sudan said recently that it intends to build a pipeline that would head south to Kenya. It is not clear who would fund such a massive project, but, if built, the pipeline would sharply reduce Juba’s dependence on the north---and the value of China’s huge investment in existing pipelines to Sudan’s Chinese-built oil export terminal on the Red Sea. [Ibid]
It was inevitable that China would get tangled in the dispute. The state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, has a big stake in most of the biggest oil concessions. The oil from both Sudans represents at least 5 percent of China’s global crude imports. This is much less than what China imports from Angola but is still important, especially as it is produced mainly by Chinese companies that are controlled by the state and, thus, in Beijing’s view, are more reliable. Angola’s oil, by contrast, is largely pumped by Western companies. [Ibid]
China Leaning Toward South Sudan?
Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post, “In Juba, officials stressed that China should make greater efforts to persuade Khartoum to accept South Sudan’s position. “We are not asking China to help us. We are asking China to help itself with its friend,” Amum said. He made clear that Juba would no longer tolerate China’s alliance with Khartoum. “They are used to looking north,” he said. “They are now being told to turn around, southward.” [Source: Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins, Washington Post , March 23 2012]
There are signs that China’s previously rock-solid support for Khartoum might be softening. In a recent interview with Qatar’s al-Raya newspaper, Bashir complained that Beijing had cancelled a loan to his government for a big agricultural development project. China pulled out, the Sudanese president said, because Khartoum was due to repay the money with oil shipments, which had been disrupted by the south’s independence. [Ibid]
Even so, it is unlikely, analysts said, that China would jilt Khartoum for Juba---that would probably alarm other repressive and corrupt regimes, such as those in Angola and Equatorial Guinea, where China has forged highly profitable oil relationships. “The Chinese are not going to throw away old friends,” Vertin said. “They won’t abandon Sudan. That would be a bad precedent for them.” Sudan also has some powerful and so far loyal friends in Beijing, though how long this lasts may depend as much on the labyrinthine internal politics of the Communist Party as events in Africa. One of Khartoum’s biggest backers in Beijing for years has been Zhou Yongkang, a member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee responsible for security. In recent days, however, rumors---all unconfirmed---have swirled in Beijing that Zhou is in deep political trouble after the purge of Bo Xilai with whom he is thought to have been allied. Zhou used to be the head of CNPC, the state oil company, and led its push into Sudan’s oil sector in the 1990s after American and other Western companies pulled out. He has visited Khartoum repeatedly. [Ibid]
Tension Over China and South China Grow
Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post, Amid mounting anger in Juba over China’s continuing coziness with Khartoum, South Sudan in February 2012 expelled Liu Yingcai, the head of Petrodar, a consortium that is majority owned by CNPC. In a letter, the Juba government accused Liu of colluding with Khartoum to steal South Sudan’s oil and of not fully cooperating with orders to shut down oil production. Petrodar, in a statement, denied the allegations. The consortium said it had ordered staff members “not to comply with the forced lifting” of oil, which it said was done by members of Sudan’s national security forces. [Ibid]
Now, South Sudan has launched an investigation of Petrodar to determine the extent of its role in the oil theft. Juba is also probing the actions of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co., an oil consortium that is 40 percent owned by China and that also may have helped Khartoum steal oil. If the consortiums are found sufficiently guilty, Amum said, their contracts could be terminated. “It will be an opportunity for others, with possibly even better technology, to come in,” Amum said. “If the Chinese are not with us, we will have another very good story, too. With the Chinese or with others, we will prosper.”
As tensions between the two Sudans grow, China’s predicament becomes more precarious. In January 2012, Sudan allegedly bombed an oil field at El Nar in South Sudan, nine miles from the jagged, contested border between the two countries, sending Chinese and other foreign workers maintaining the oil wells scrambling for their lives “They bombed this place because of the oil,” said Miakol Lual, a local tribal chief. The attack destroyed portions of the oil infrastructure. “It’s a message to all foreigners: “You deal with us, not the other side,” said a foreign supervisor who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to the media. Khartoum has denied attacking the field. [Ibid]
In Juba, Chinese expatriates are growing anxious. In January, rebels linked to South Sudan kidnapped 29 Chinese workers in Sudan, releasing them last month. The Chinese Embassy has ordered all its nationals to stay in at night and not discuss anything sensitive with locals. “Everyone is worried about the situation,” said a Chinese telecommunications worker who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared he would get fired. “If things get worse, we have made preparations to move out of here.”
AFP reported: “Fighting broke out in March, with warplanes from the north hitting oil-producing regions in the southern state of Unity. The South seized Sudan's Heglig oil field on April 10 from Khartoum's army after accusing Sudan of using it as a base to launch attacks on the South, pulling out 10 days later under international pressure. Sudan declared on April 20 that its army had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord. Juba argues that Heglig -- or part of the oil field -- lies south of the 1956 border and therefore belongs to them. [Source: AFP, April 28, 2012]
Each side blames the other for damaging the oil facility, which provided about half of Sudan's oil output and is now shut down pending repairs. Khartoum said that four foreigners investigating debris from recent fighting had been caught in the Heglig oilfield area, but the UN identified them as deminers. [Ibid]
China to Loan South Sudan $8 billion and Build a New Airport, Juba says
In April 2012, AFP reported: “China has agreed to loan oil-rich South Sudan $8 billion for infrastructure development, according to Juba government spokesman, Barnaba Mariel Benjamin. "It will fund roads, bridges, hydropower, agriculture and telecommunications projects... within the next two years," he said, giving details of a visit this week to China by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir. "Details (of the projects) will be defined by the ministers of the two countries and by the Chinese firms in charge of the work," said the spokesman for the world's youngest nation.[Source: AFP, April 28, 2012]
In August 2012, Reuters reported: “South Sudan said on Friday China would help build a new airport in the capital Juba, completing a project that has highlighted the government's struggle to execute infrastructure projects. South Sudan has been trying to build up efficient state institutions and start development despite netting in billions of dollars in oil revenues since a 2005 peace agreement with Sudan. The government had planned to have a new airport terminal ready for independence celebrations in July 2011 but works have been hampered for years by funding problems and poor planning. [Source: Mading Ngor, Reuters, August 17, 2012]
China will give a $158 million loan and help complete the airport project, Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters after a cabinet meeting. "It will include extensions, it will include the car parks, it will include the lighting system. It will include the ability for the airport to be functioning for 24 hours," he said. The current passenger terminal was built by Sudan to serve what was then thin traffic between Khartoum and the poor south. It consists of two small halls where airlines check in passengers without computers or proper baggage weight checks. [Ibid]
Security checks are minimal because of the frequent power outages. Luggage from arriving passengers is loaded on a long bench in the absence of a luggage carousel. Some 22 airlines serve Juba International Airport, mostly from African neighbors such as Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.Barnaba said South Sudan would pay an annual interest of 2 percent for the loan which would have to be paid back after 20 years. He also said the cabinet launched plans to set up a national carrier with the help of private investors. [Ibid]
Jonathan Clayton wrote in The Times, “In Zimbabwe, where President Mugabe supports close ties with Beijing, partly because it never criticizes his domestic policies, riot police had to be called in after workers too the Chinese boss of chrome mine hostage for poor working conditions and failure to meet promises to pay them wage arrears totaling $174,000 plus their most recent month’s salaries. Also in Zimbabwe, workers at a Chinese building project went on strike over low wages, the denial of protective clothing and being forced to work at night. [Source: Jonathan Clayton, The Times, July 14, 2012]
In 2007, Beijing also began turnings its back on Mugabe. Still, it and Russia vetoed United Nations sanctions against Zimbabwe after Mugabe stole the election there in 2008. In 2010, the 86-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1987, made yet another pilgrimage to Great Hall of the People, where he was greeted as an old friend by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Mugabe followed up his hobnobbing with Chinese leaders in Beijing and going on a shopping spree in Hong Kong. Meanwhile,his country is falling apart, and his callous indifference to the plight of his people stands as an affront to humanity. [Source: Asian Times]
Working with countries in southern Africa, the United States tried to block a ship filled with Chinese weapons bound for Zimbabwe to be used by security forces loyal to Mugabe. Countries such as Mozambique, Angola and South Africa were told that of they allowed the weapons to be unloaded at one of their ports their relationship with the United States would be harmed.
Zimbabwe-China Venture, Biggest Diamond Producer in the World After Only 1½ Years in Operation
In December 2011, the China Daily reported: “Anjin Investments is now the biggest diamond producer in the world after only one and a half years of mining in eastern Zimbabwe, an official said. The company's director Munyaradzi Machacha said the mine has a capacity of producing 12,000 tons of ore per day and had invested heavily in state-of-the-art machinery. Shorty before the announcement the company said it would buy two processing units at a total cost of $18 million to add to the current five that are operational. [Source: China Daily, December 15, 2011]
"We are now the largest diamond mining company in the world and the Kimberly Process has confirmed that and we are proud of that," Machacha said, adding the company was poised to play a significant role in the development of Zimbabwe. Machacha said the company was also big in terms of the share size, the amount of ore it is capable of producing, as well as the massive production and processing machinery it has on site. [Ibid]
Anjin is a 50/50 joint venture between the government-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company Limited of China. The company started mining operations in July 2010, and has a stockpile of 3 million carats of diamonds that it intends to sell after getting KP approval recently. Anjin conducted its first sale of diamonds in December 2011 week and Machacha said marketing of the gems was in progress. He said the mine was currently producing 6,000 tons of ore from its 4,846-hectare concession. [Ibid]
Mine manager Hu Shijie said the company had one of the most advanced diamond processing machinery among the four companies that are mining diamonds in Marange. And the two new units have a combined processing capacity of 4,000 per day. Meanwhile, Machacha said companies mining diamonds in Zimbabwe do not deserve to be slapped with Western sanctions as they are operating above board. His comments followed this week's move by the United States to slap Mbada and Marange Resources -- two of the four companies mining diamonds in Marange -- with sanctions. "Zimbabwe does not deserve sanctions nor any of the companies that have been placed on sanctions," he said. [Ibid]
China's Zimbabwe Diamonds Unpaid
In May 2012 SAPA, the South African news service, reported: “Chinese diamond firm Anjin failed to remit revenue from its operations in Zimbabwe's controversial Marange fields in the first quarter of this year, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said. "We have not received a single cent from Anjin, yet Anjin is seven times bigger than some of the other [diamond] companies," Biti told reporters giving his monthly fiscal statement. Anjin is in a joint venture with the Zimbabwe government, as are three other firms. [Source: SAPA, May 17, 2012]
Biti said there were suspicions the funds were funnelled elsewhere, outside the government central coffers. "Clearly, we fear as the ministry of finance that there might be a parallel government somewhere in respect of where these revenues are going, and are not coming to us. [Ibid] "There is opaqueness and unaccountability surrounding our diamonds."
Anjin along with Diamond Mining Corporation, Mbada and Marange Resources are mining the gemstones in Zimbabwe's eastern Marange area, where activists have reported gross rights abuses. Zimbabwe government owns a 50 percent stake in all the four companies. [Ibid]
Biti said Anjin's failure to pay in proceeds from its diamond sales could impact negatively on Zimbabwe's $4bn budget for 2012 where at least $600m was projected to come from diamond sales. Total revenue collections for the first quarter of 2012 stood at $287.9m against a target of $320.2m, with the shortfall blamed on "under performance of diamond revenue". "Diamond revenues have been under perfoming since January to 2012, with only $30.4m remittances received for the period January to 21 March 2012," he said. The target was $122.5m. [Ibid]
Biti said he has complained to leaders in the power-sharing government over the diamond revenue shortfall. He said Zimbabwe's economy, which went into a tailspin amid a political crisis before the creation of unity government three years ago, continued to recover with gains in the mining, manufacturing and energy sectors. [Ibid]
Mysterious Chinese Tycoon, Diamonds, and “$100 Million for Mugabe”
According to article in the Times of London, a mysterious former arms dealer based in Hong Kong named Sam Pa is covertly funding Zimbabwe’s feared security service, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and its efforts to subvert the political opponents of the country dictator, Robert Mugabe, In return, Mr. Pa has been granted exclusive access to the country’s diamond mines and first pick of prime real estate opportunities in Zimbabwe. [Source: Jon Swain, The Times (London), June 23, 2012 ]
Mr. Pa is widely believed to be front man for Chinese intelligence. The Times of London cites a 2009 investigation by a U.S. congressional commission, which found that one of Mr. Pa’s companies, China International Fund, “could be falsely representing itself as a private business when it was actually an arm of the [Chinese] intelligence and public security services eager to increase China’s influence and guarantee the supply of oil and raw materials from Africa.”
Jon Swain wrote in The Times: “Sam Pa has allegedly provided private donations to Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation to fund covert activities against the Opposition. The CIO is said to have allocated $100 million from Mr Pa in a secret operation codenamed Spiderweb to discredit President Mugabe’s political opponents, including the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangarai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). A new report from the international campaign group Global Witness documents Mr Pa’s activities in Zimbabwe and argues that Mr Mugabe’s security forces are using his money to finance operations to retain power for the President and his Zanu (PF) party in elections due by 2013. Its report reveals that Mr Pa has ploughed money into buying vehicles for the CIO, providing the intelligence service with 200 Nissan pickup trucks to boost its operational capability against the regime’s opponents. In return, Global Witness says, he received diamonds and business opportunities in cotton and property. [Ibid]
Mr Pa, a former arms dealer who uses many aliases, runs an opaque network of more than 60 companies known as the Queensway syndicate. He has been dealing in sub-Saharan Africa for a number of years. Companies he represents are alleged to have used closed-door negotiations to secure a large stake in strategic mineral resources, most notably in oil-rich Angola, a major source of China’s oil. In 2009, a US congressional commission published a scathing report about Queensway. It said that its lack of transparency was a “major concern” as it acquired assets globally by stealth. It said that one of its companies, China International Fund, could be falsely representing itself as a private business when it was actually an arm of the intelligence and public security services eager to increase China’s influence and guarantee the supply of oil and raw materials from Africa. The researchers said they found no paper trail for Mr Pa. [Ibid]
Zimbabwe is home to one of the world’s richest diamond deposits at Marange, but millions of dollars worth of diamonds remain unaccounted for. Anjin Investments, a Chinese-Zimbabwean venture, is one of the world’s biggest producers. Global Witness has concluded that it is part-owned by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Defence, the military and police. The Global Witness investigation cites sources and CIO documents to reveal Mr Pa’s involvement in buying high-quality diamonds. “He would arrive at monthly intervals at Harare airport in a white Airbus A319CJ private jet and depart with diamonds,” it said. It said that the $100 million Mr Pa gave to the CIO compares with the budget of the spy agency’s parent department, the Office of the President and Cabinet, that is scarcely higher at $121 million in 2011. “Such a sum would give the CIO considerable freedom to set its own agenda”.” [Ibid]
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated December 2012