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Cablegate: Chinese Views On Darfur

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SUBJECT: CHINESE VIEWS ON DARFUR

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1. (SBU) Summary: At a July 26-27 conference on the Darfur
hosted by the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs-affiliated
China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Chinese
Government officials and scholars attributed the conflict in
Darfur to poverty, resource scarcity, effects of global
warming and mistrust among the parties involved. Government
officials and scholars encouraged Western nations to exert
influence over rebel groups to restart the political process
and blamed Western media for "sensationalism and bias" in its
reporting on the Darfur. Chinese scholars dismissed
criticism of China's involvement in Sudan as "unfair and
nonsensical" and insisted that both the Chinese and Sudanese
Governments have taken positive steps to address the Darfur
conflict. Noting that "no quick fix" exists for Darfur,
scholars suggested parties in the conflict cooperate to
establish a minimal level of governance in areas where none
exists and that the international community bolster trust in
Darfur by assuring the Government of Sudan that regime change
or independence for Darfur are not goals of the international
community. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The China Institute of International Studies (CIIS),
a Ministry of Foreign Affairs-affiliated think tank, hosted
the "International Conference on Darfur: Peace and
Development" in Beijing June 26-27. Attendees included a
wide range of Chinese academics and government officials, as
well as Western and African government officials and civil
society leaders. The United States was represented by
Department of State Africa Bureau Sudan Programs Group Acting
Office Director Jason Small.

Darfur's Root Cause is Poverty
------------------------------

3. (SBU) Darfur is in essence a development problem, with the
root causes being poverty and a scarcity of natural
resources, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said in his
opening remarks. The idea of poverty and resource scarcity
was further explored by Zhejiang Normal University Professor
Jiang Hengkun, who said that since 2002, ethnic tensions have
been compounded by conflicts between settled agriculturalists
and ethnic nomads over arable land for use as either farmland
or pasture. The situation has worsened as arable land has
disappeared due to both natural and manmade factors,
including drought and over-farming. A subsequent boom in
population caused by higher birth rates and increased
immigration has also worsened the situation. Given these
factors, the conflict in Darfur is at its root an issue of
development and can be solved through aid and technology
transfers to the people of Darfur, Jiang said. AFM Zhai Jun
also stressed the importance of economic development to
finding a durable solution in Darfur, noting that development
is contingent upon the international community taking steps
to improve the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur.

Promotion of the Political Process
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) Western nations should concentrate on restoring the
political process and promoting dialogue on the basis of
mutual equality while respecting Sudanese territorial
integrity, Shanghai Institute for International Studies
(SIIS) West Asian and African Studies Professor Zhang
Zhongxiang said. If no additional pressure is brought to
bear on the rebels, the situation may drag on indefinitely,
as has happened between Palestine and Israel, he added. He
suggested that the international community "stop complaining
and blaming others and take responsibility for humanitarian
aid and development," noting the particular need for schools
and hospitals in Darfur. Ministry of State
Security-affiliated China Institutes for Contemporary
International Studies (CICIR) African Studies Department
Director Xu Weizhong said that the West has clear channels of
communication with the rebels and should be pressuring them
to join in political negotiations. A solution should also be
reached on power- and wealth-sharing rights among the various
regions of Sudan, he said. He noted that the people of
Darfur are not interested in the theories of international
relations that Western nations debate, but are waiting to be
told what to do to fix the problems in Darfur. In contrast,
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) Institute of West
Asian and African Studies Dr. Yang Baorong said that the
Western habit of telling other nations what to do "is
annoying," and, instead of issuing instructions, the West
should lead by example, providing help and fostering dialogue

BEIJING 00002794 002.2 OF 004


between the relevant parties.

Media Sensationalism
--------------------

5. (SBU) The Western media's reporting from Darfur has been
biased and sensationalized, often exaggerating the death toll
or claiming falsely that "ethnic cleansing" is underway, CIIS
Department for Developing Countries Studies Director Li Guofu
said. This sort of sensationalism, coupled with "an
incomprehensible attempt" to link Darfur to China because of
energy cooperation with Sudan has led the world to distrust
the Western media and has not been helpful to solving the
problem, he said. CIIS African Research Center Executive
Director Wang Hongyi added that the situation in Darfur is
"not as bad as you might believe," but the West maintains an
extremely hostile attitude toward the Sudanese Government
largely because of biased Western reporting. Western media
and society have emboldened and encouraged the rebels by
criticizing the Sudanese Government, he added. He noted that
the Western media has taken a hostile approach and actively
sought to sour international opinion of the Sudanese
Government, particularly since it began exporting oil in
1996. SIIS' Zhang noted that the problems in Darfur have
been ongoing for years, but a slew of publicity has turned
the region into an unwarranted "hot issue" in international
relations, despite the fact that the issues in Darfur are not
unique in Africa. Attempts to link China to the problems in
Darfur have also helped to keep the issue "hot" and are part
of the problem. What is needed to solve the Darfur issue is
a comprehensive solution, Zhang said.

Distrust: Now We're Hitting the Nail on the Head
--------------------------------------------- ---

6. (SBU) Another major factor in the Darfur conflict is a
fundamental lack of trust from nearly all parties involved,
CIIS' Li said. The Sudanese Government fears that the U.S.
Government seeks regime change in Sudan and that the United
States is unfairly biased in favor of rebel groups, while the
United States and other members of the international
community feel that the Sudanese Government is insincere and
funds Arab militia groups. In order to overcome this
distrust, the international community must guarantee respect
for the concerns of the Sudanese Government, he said. The
West should take a fair and objective role, not politicize
technical delays, and should pressure rebel groups to stop
hostile activity, thus playing a positive role and building
trust. CICIR's Xu added that some Western NGOs operating in
Darfur are fueling mistrust, as they "are extremely
conservative," hate the Bashir Government and are agitating
for regime change. As such, it is important to ensure that
American NGOs are not making excessive demands, not
supporting regime change and are playing a positive role in
the region rather than acting as a destabilizing factor, he
said. Confidence-building measures will go a long way toward
solving the problems in Darfur, he suggested, noting that
Western nations are unlikely to gain the trust of the
Sudanese people without a guarantee that the West is not
seeking Darfur independence or regime change.

Sanctions Ineffective
---------------------

7. (SBU) Increased pressure on the Sudanese Government, such
as by the use or threat of sanctions, is not productive, will
further complicate the situation in Darfur and ultimately
will not lead to a solution, AFM Zhai Jun said. Shanghai
Normal University (SNU) Professor Shu Yunguo agreed, saying
that the complexity of religious and historical factors in
Darfur, combined with modern economic conditions and refugee
issues, means that sanctions are unlikely to solve any
problems in Sudan and will likely complicate the situation
and cause problems there to worsen. Peking University School
of International Studies Professor Li Anshan noted that the
Darfur conflict is a tragedy, but it is not genocide, adding
that the threat of sanctions on the basis of "genocide" only
helps to build mistrust. He noted that neither the UN nor
any nation except the United States refers to the Darfur
conflict as genocide, and that even former U.S. President
Jimmy Carter said explicitly that it fails to meet the legal
definition of genocide. Noting that a similar conflict in
Congo has received almost no attention and no such labels,
Professor Li reiterated that the threat of sanctions is not
useful and that the only way to restart the political process
is by building trust.

Respect Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity

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------------------------------------------

8. (SBU) The international community must continue to respect
Sudan's sovereignty and territorial integrity and seek to
solve the Darfur crisis through dialogue on an equal footing,
AFM Zhai Jun said. CIIS' Wang agreed, saying that the
problems in Darfur must be solved at the national, rather
than international level. In an effort to harm Sino-Sudanese
relations, Western nations have created conflicts and sought
to destabilize the region, such as when France increased its
military presence in Chad, he said. If the West continues to
interfere in Sudan in a negative way, it will lead to chaos
in Darfur that may affect the entire region and imperil
Sudan's oil production, which he claimed accounts for 16
percent of the world's supply and thus plays a major role in
global oil price stability. (Note: Sudan's annual oil
production ranks 32nd in the world, according to the CIA
World Fact Book, accounting for a much smaller fraction of
total global production.)

Darfur: Stumbling blocks remain
--------------------------------

9. (SBU) Despite China's best efforts, some stumbling blocks
still exist in Darfur, AFM Zhai Jun said. These include the
delayed deployment of UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping
force UNAMID due to logistics and equipment issues, the
breakdown of the political process due to the lack of
participation of some rebel groups, and the continued
deterioration of the security situation, including exchanges
of weapons fire between government troops and rebel forces,
he said. Expounding on UNAMID's deployment in a meeting on
the margins of the conference, Chinese Special Envoy for
Dafur Liu Guijin said that China, like the United States, is
not satisfied with the speed of UNAMID deployment. The
reasons for the delay are "quite complex" and include
logistics issues as well as stumbling blocks caused both by
the Government of Sudan and by the UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). For almost half a year China
has asked to deploy the remainder of its troops, but the UN
has not been ready for them. The UN and Western nations must
be practical and patient in waiting for these logistics
issues to be overcome, Liu said. He concluded that China
does not want a dispute with the United States over Darfur,
particularly given how much the two nations have in common in
their mutual quest for a permanent long-term solution to the
problems there. CICIR's Xu urged Western nations to support
the logistics of UNAMID deployment, particularly by providing
helicopters. He expressed skepticism that not enough
helicopters are available, saying "I just don't believe" that
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are utilizing all the
helicopters requested for Darfur.

China Has Taken Positive Steps . . .
------------------------------------

10. (SBU) Positive steps China has taken to support the
people of Darfur include actively enhancing communication
between all parties involved, working toward a political
solution to the crisis, supporting UNAMID by contributing
troops and engineers, supporting a dual-track approach to the
Darfur issue and promoting a resumption of dialogue, and
taking steps to improve the on-the-ground humanitarian
situation in Darfur through infrastructure development and
the provision of educational and material aid, AFM Zhai Jun
said. In the future, China plans to help reach the goal of
peace and stability in Darfur by continuing to give full play
to the trilateral mechanism, firmly promoting peacekeeping in
a balanced way, and promoting the political process by urging
rebel groups to align their positions to provide a unified
front for interaction with the Sudanese Government, he said.
China will also continue to strive toward an improved
humanitarian and security situation in Darfur so as to allow
the people of Darfur to rebuild their homeland.

. . . So Stop Blaming China for Darfur
--------------------------------------

11. (SBU) The West should better understand the positive role
that China has played in Sudan and stop blaming it for
problems there, CIIS' Wang said. Blaming China for problems
in Sudan is as nonsensical as blaming China for rising global
food prices, he added. SNU's Shu agreed, saying that in a
globalizing world, it is unfair to blame one nation for
political problems in another nation just because of trade
relations. He noted that other nations with strong economic
ties to Sudan are not blamed for the problems in Darfur.
Darfur is not in China, and the situation there is ultimately

BEIJING 00002794 004.2 OF 004


part of the internal affairs of Sudan. SIIS' Zhang suggested
that rather than pointing fingers at China, the international
community should set a timetable for progress in the
political process to help drive things forward. CIIS' Li
said that attempts to link Darfur to China because of energy
cooperation with Sudan are "incomprehensible" and unhelpful
in solving the problems there. Peking University's Li
acknowledged that much suspicion seems to surround China's
oil trade with Sudan, but noted that China engages in energy
cooperation with other nations, such as Australia and
Kazakhstan, without drawing any criticism and trade with
Sudan should be no different. Responding to charges that
China neglects the human rights situation in Darfur, Li noted
that "different people have different concepts of human
rights." He said some nations criticize the human rights
record in China, but still promote trade with China. China
has no reason to stop trading with Sudan just because other
nations accuse the Sudanese Government of human rights
violations.

Sudanese Government Has Been Helpful
------------------------------------

12. (SBU) The international community should not overlook the
efforts of the Sudanese Government, CICIR Institute of Asian
and African Studies Director Li Rong said, noting that the
Sudanese Government sent a high-level delegation to the Libya
conference, while the majority of rebel groups boycotted.
The Sudanese Government has been positive and made great
strides to solve many domestic problems, she said, and the
West should respond with full faith and confidence in the
Sudanese Government and avoid interfering in Darfur. SIIS'
Zhang agreed, noting that the sincerity of the Sudanese
Government is reflected in its acceptance of UNSC Resolution
1769, as well as its continued efforts to hold dialogue with
rebel forces. CASS' Yang urged the international community
to trust the Sudanese Government to solve the problems in
Darfur, both because the Government has made great strides
and because the problem falls within the bounds of Sudanese
sovereignty and territorial integrity. He added that the
international community should "be more tolerant and complain
less" about Darfur.

The Way Forward: Create Minimal Governance
-------------------------------------------

13. (SBU) The security situation must be improved so that
some semblance of governance can be established on the
ground, as currently not even a minimal level of governance
exists in Darfur, CICIR's Xu said. There is disagreement
between the rebels and the Sudanese Government as to who
should govern, and neither the UN nor the AU have the ability
or mandate to govern in Darfur, he said. All parties
involved in the conflict should "join forces" in the name of
creating minimal governance as a first step toward solving
the problem. He noted that the involvement of the Sudanese
Government in Darfur is inevitable, as Darfur is part of
Sudanese territory. Xu suggested that the international
community and the Sudanese Government should work together to
stop "spoilers" from sabotaging the peace process in Darfur.
He noted that a quick fix or "shock therapy" solution to the
problems in Darfur will not help solve the problem, while a
gradual approach that encourages progress is better than
threats and ultimatums. Regarding negotiations and the
resumption of the political process, Xu said that many of the
demands of the international community are unreasonable and
often the scope of the negotiations is too large. The
international community should pick only the most important
issues in Darfur and bring them to the negotiating table, and
it should recognize that there is no perfect solution, but
rather only relatively good solutions to the complex problems
in Darfur.
RANDT

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