Hu Jintao says one thing and does the other

Sudan is the best-known and least-addressed problem in global affairs: an estimated 200,000 civilians killed in its Darfur region since 2003, with another 2 million displaced. Thanks largely to oil sales to China, Sudan is also an economic success story, with growth for 2006 estimated at over 10 percent. Chinese President Hu Jintao is thus ...

604259_bashir_hu2_05.jpg
604259_bashir_hu2_05.jpg

Sudan is the best-known and least-addressed problem in global affairs: an estimated 200,000 civilians killed in its Darfur region since 2003, with another 2 million displaced. Thanks largely to oil sales to China, Sudan is also an economic success story, with growth for 2006 estimated at over 10 percent. Chinese President Hu Jintao is thus ideally placed to pressure Sudan's government to clean up its act. On his recent visit to Khartoum, Hu duly played the statesman, pointedly telling Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that the Darfur problem had to be solved.

The Chinese checkbook, however, tells a different story. First, Hu signed off an interest-free loan of $12.9 million for Bashir to build himself a new palace. Item number two is the $70 million of debt written off by the Chinese.

And so Hu delivered Bashir, the man most responsible for four years of carnage in Darfur, a gentle slap on the wrist accompanied by a financial bear hug. The underlying message was clear: Keep the oil flowing, and we'll watch your back. If the Sudan visit is anything to judge by, the day of China as a responsible world power is a long way off.

Sudan is the best-known and least-addressed problem in global affairs: an estimated 200,000 civilians killed in its Darfur region since 2003, with another 2 million displaced. Thanks largely to oil sales to China, Sudan is also an economic success story, with growth for 2006 estimated at over 10 percent. Chinese President Hu Jintao is thus ideally placed to pressure Sudan’s government to clean up its act. On his recent visit to Khartoum, Hu duly played the statesman, pointedly telling Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir that the Darfur problem had to be solved.

The Chinese checkbook, however, tells a different story. First, Hu signed off an interest-free loan of $12.9 million for Bashir to build himself a new palace. Item number two is the $70 million of debt written off by the Chinese.

And so Hu delivered Bashir, the man most responsible for four years of carnage in Darfur, a gentle slap on the wrist accompanied by a financial bear hug. The underlying message was clear: Keep the oil flowing, and we’ll watch your back. If the Sudan visit is anything to judge by, the day of China as a responsible world power is a long way off.

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