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UPDATED: March 12, 2008 NO.11 MAR.13, 2008
Relief and Recovery
China delivers real economic and social benefits to the people of Darfur

At a ceremony where China gave the Sudanese Government an aid package worth about $2.8 million, Liu promised that China would provide more humanitarian assistance to the country.

China has contributed much to the global efforts to address the Darfur crisis, Wang said. China was the first country to advocate the three-party mechanism, featuring the leading role of the United Nations, the African Union (AU) and the Sudanese Government. It also put forward the dual-track strategy that is designed to pursue political negotiations and the peacekeeping mission in Darfur in a balanced manner. These initiatives have not only won support from African and Arab countries but also gained understanding from some Western countries, he said.

China has helped the Sudanese Govern-ment and the Western countries better understand each other, Wang said. Since taking the post of special representative of the Chinese Government for Darfur, Liu has not only paid four visits to Sudan but also visited the United States and some European countries. His diplomatic shuttles have promoted coordination among different stakeholders on the Darfur issue. China also has played a unique role in persuading the Sudanese Government to accept the final phase of the three-phased support plan, which concerns the deployment of a hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, he said. The plan, drawn up by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is known as the Annan Plan.

China has taken concrete steps to provide development assistance and send peacekeeping forces for Darfur, Wang said. According to the Foreign Ministry, China has provided $11 million in material assistance for Darfur and $1.8 million in aid for the AU. It also promised to send a 315-member multifunctional engineering unit to Darfur, with 140 of them already in Darfur and the rest to be phased in later. China will donate $500,000 to the UN trust fund to support the mediation efforts of the special envoys of the UN and AU on the Darfur issue.

Chinese companies in Darfur also have offered a helping hand by taking part in construction projects to improve local people's livelihoods. They have dug 46 wells and built 20 small-scale power plants, 18 of which have been completed. They have spent $50 million of China's governmental concessionary loans on building water supply projects in South Darfur State, including digging wells, purifying water and laying an 85-km-long water pipeline. Some companies are currently preparing to develop a water supply project from Sudan's Al-Qadarif State to Al-Fashir of North Darfur State with an investment of $10 million in concessionary loans. Chinese companies also have donated computers and other teaching equipment to schools in Darfur.

China, which plays a significant part in Sudan's oil industry, is the country's major economic partner, Wang said.

"Since my appointment as the special representative for Darfur, I've often been queried about oil cooperation between China and Sudan," Liu said when he visited Khartoum Oil Refining Company, Sudan's largest oil processing firm. "I pledge through what I have seen with my own eyes that the cooperation is transparent, mutually beneficial and non-exclusive."

Located 70 km from the capital, the company is a joint venture between Sudan's Ministry of Energy and Mining and China's largest oil producer China National Petroleum Corp.

Such cooperation has changed Sudan from an oil importer to an oil exporter and helped the country achieve the fastest economic growth among African countries-about 11 percent last year, Liu said.

Working for peace

The Chinese Government has always committed itself to the policy of resolving the Darfur issue through negotiation and the political process while at the same time promoting the region's development, He Wenping of the CASS said. Thanks to the efforts made by all parties concerned, the Darfur issue is moving in the right direction, as evidenced by the Sudanese Government's change from rejecting international intervention to accepting the deployment of an AU-UN joint peacekeeping force, she said.

During his visit to Sudan in February 2007, Chinese President Hu Jintao summarized China's position on the Darfur issue as follows:

- respecting Sudan's sovereignty and territorial integrity;

- upholding dialogue and equal negotiations and resolving the Darfur issue peacefully;

- letting the AU and the UN play a constructive role in the peacekeeping operation in Darfur; and

- promoting regional stability and improving the local people's living standards.

Because of the Western sanctions, Sudan is rather isolated in the international community. The Western countries, however, are not keen on the political process in Darfur. Peace in the Darfur region is one of their objectives. But more importantly, they seek to suppress or change the Sudanese Government, which they believe supports terrorism and does not follow their Africa policy, Wang said.

Small wonder then that the political process in Darfur has struggled to move forward, Wang said. A number of peace talks were held last year between the Sudanese Government and rebel groups, but they made no substantial progress. Although implementation of the second phase of the Annan Plan has started, the parties involved have not yet decided on when to move on to the expanded third phase, he said.

Over the past years, the Darfur issue has developed from conflicts between tribes to a hot-spot political issue. As a result, it is unlikely to be resolved in a few years' time, though armed conflicts have greatly diminished in the region, Wang said.

China's vision of promoting local economic development and reconstruction in the region and seeking peace talks with wide political participation is correct and offers the right approach to the final settlement of the Darfur issue, Wang said.

He Wenping agreed by saying the Darfur issue is one of development. Peace cannot be realized without development, she said.

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