Written by Tang Buxi, May 2nd, 2008
The argument, as many have undoubtedly heard, is that China is essentially bank-rolling “genocide in Darfur” (see: American Jewish Groups Call For Olympics Boycott) . The term “genocide” itself is probably misused in this context, and it minimizes the true scale of the Nazi Germany Holocaust. There is undoubtedly a devastating civil war in Darfur, embroiling hundreds of thousands of civilians in tremendous misery. But it remains a very complicated issue, with numerous rebel movements (and not only the government) trying to disrupt the peace process by attacking peacekeepers.
I believe as Chinese, we understand how dangerous self-righteous foreign armies can be. We’ve been at the pointy-end time and time again of various campaigns that resonated in foreign capitals, but translated to immense suffering for us “natives”. It’s simply not easy for analysts sitting in foreign cities to properly understand the full complexity of any conflict, and if they’re wrong, they can always return to their ivory tower. At the very least, we should leave it to the regional neighbors to figure out a solution. Fortunately, a negotiated approach with the African Union shows signs of breaking through.
So, what is it that Darfur activists are specifically demanding from China? As you dig deeper past the rhetoric, you will find that China’s primary crime lies in buying oil from the Sudanese government. They’re implicitly demanding that China stops purchasing Sudanese oil, in hopes of pushing Sudan into a political path it’s not ready to take. Let’s ignore the question of whether this sort of activism (in the face of actual negotiated progress) is morally right; let’s just talk about whether China is the appropriate target for this campaign.
China, just like any other nation, needs oil to survive; we need fuel for power generators and vehicles. If China were to go elsewhere to purchase oil, the Chinese would have to pay a greater premium. In essence, the Darfur campaign is demanding that all average Chinese pay a heavy tax out of their pockets, to support their questionable political goals. Keep in mind that China is a developing nation, where the average per capita GDP is $2000/year, and average per capita WEALTH is barely over $10,000.
Does forcing the cost of this campaign onto the impoverished Chinese make sense to anyone? How much has Mia Farrow, or the American Jewish community at large donated to the Darfur cause in actual cash money? I won’t demand too much… but are they willing to at least drop their net wealth down to the per capita Chinese level of $10,000? When will Mia Farrow, and the leaders of the American Jewish community, pull out their checkbooks and pledge to suffer as much as the average Chinese would from this campaign? Is doing anything less than this nothing but high hypocrisy?
Next time you see a Darfur activist calling these the “Genocide Olympics”, remember to ask them: what is your family’s accumulated net worth? Have you donated the amount above $10,000 towards helping refugees in Darfur?
I’d even propose another solution. Many of these Darfur activists also have tremendous political influence in Washington DC. I propose that they lobby the United States government for an exchange of oil interests. China will trade away all rights over Sudanese oil, for control of American-owned oil wells in Saudi Arabia (a country which apparently doesn’t offend the human rights activist community). It would be a double-win: the United States can exert direct political pressure on the Sudanese government, while China wouldn’t be forced to sacrifice the livelihood of average Chinese earning less than $200 per month.
Dream for Darfur has also called on China to play the role of international police alongside the United States, by actually deploying military forces (helicopters) in Darfur. China has previously deployed engineering brigades and UN peacekeepers in foreign countries (Haiti and Chad), but demanding specific hardware from a developing nation seems rather bizarre. I for one think one international policeman is *more* than what this world can handle… but if they really insist on more military hardware in Darfur, I suggest they campaign at the Pentagon. I hear the Pentagon has plenty of practice at this stuff.
Let’s all agree that the events in Darfur represent a humanitarian disaster that the world should be united in helping. But let’s leave the casting of stones to those better morally equipped.
US coiled the term “genocide” in order to legitimate a regime change in Sudan, a non-US-friendly government, so as to have full access to Sudan’s oil. Ironically, US are at least in part responsible for triggering the blood bath in Darfur in the first place, as well as fueling the subsequent on-going conflicts covertly by supplying and training the Darfur rebels through Chad. “Supplied with US military aid, training and weapons, in 2004, Deby (president of Chad) launched the initial strike that set off the conflict in Darfur. He used members of his elite Presidential Guard, who come from the province, providing them with all-terrain vehicles, arms and anti-aircraft guns to aid Darfur rebels fighting the Khartoum government in southwestern Sudan. The US military support to Deby in fact had been the trigger for the Darfur bloodbath. Khartoum reacted and the ensuing debacle was unleashed in full, tragic force.” \r\n”In April 2005, Sudan”s government announced that it had found oil in Southern Darfur, which is estimated to be able to pump 500,000 barrels per day when developed. The world press forgot to report that vital fact in discussing the Darfur conflict.”
“Genocide was the preferred theme, and Washington was the orchestra conductor. Curiously, while all observers acknowledge that Darfur has seen a large human displacement and human misery, with tens of thousands or even as many as 300,000 deaths in the last several years, only Washington and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) close to it use the charged term “genocide” to describe Darfur. If they are able to get popular acceptance of the charge of genocide, it opens the possibility of drastic “regime change” intervention by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – read Washington – in Sudan”s sovereign affairs.
The genocide theme is being used, with full-scale Hollywood backing from the likes of stars like George Clooney, to orchestrate the case for de facto NATO occupation of the region. So far the Sudan government has vehemently refused, not surprisingly.
The US government repeatedly uses “genocide” to refer to Darfur. It is the only government to do so. US Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, said during a USINFO online interview last November 17, “The ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan – a gross violation of human rights – is among the top international issues of concern to the United States.” The Bush administration keeps insisting that genocide has been going on in Darfur since 2003, despite the fact that a five-person UN mission led by Italian Judge Antonio Cassese reported in 2004 that genocide had not been committed in Darfur but grave human rights abuses were committed. They called for war crime trials.”\r\n \r\n”The United States, acting through surrogate allies in Chad and neighboring states has trained and armed the Sudan Peoples” Liberation Army, headed until his death in July 2005 by John Garang, trained at the US Special Forces school at Fort Benning, Georgia.
By pouring arms into first southeastern Sudan and since discovery of oil in Darfur into that region as well, Washington fueled the conflict that led to tens of thousands dying and several million driven to flee their homes. Eritrea hosts and supports the Sudan People”s Liberation Army (SPLA), the umbrella NDA opposition group, and the Eastern Front and Darfur rebels.”
Condoleezza Rice”s Chevron is in neighboring Chad, together with the other US oil giant, ExxonMobil. They”ve just built a $3.7 billion oil pipeline carrying 160,000 barrels per day from Doba in central Chad, near Darfur, via Cameroon to Kribi on the Atlantic Ocean, destined for US refineries.
To do it, they worked with Chad “President for life” Idriss Deby, a corrupt despot who has been accused of feeding US-supplied arms to the Darfur rebels. Deby joined Washington”s Pan Sahel Initiative run by the Pentagon”s US-European Command, to train his troops to fight “Islamic terrorism”.
Supplied with US military aid, training and weapons, in 2004, Deby launched the initial strike that set off the conflict in Darfur. He used members of his elite Presidential Guard, who come from the province, providing them with all-terrain vehicles, arms and anti-aircraft guns to aid Darfur rebels fighting the Khartoum government in southwestern Sudan. The US military support to Deby in fact had been the trigger for the Darfur bloodbath. Khartoum reacted and the ensuing debacle was unleashed in full, tragic force.
Washington-backed NGOs and the US government claim unproven genocide as a pretext to ultimately bring UN/NATO troops into the oil fields of Darfur and southern Sudan. Oil, not human misery, is behind Washington”s new interest in Darfur.
The “Darfur genocide” campaign began in 2003, the same time the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline began to flow. The US now had a base in Chad to go after Darfur oil and, potentially, co-opt China”s new oil sources.
US military objectives in Darfur – and the Horn of Africa more widely – are being served at present by US and NATO backing for African Union (AU) troops in Darfur. There NATO provides ground and air support for AU troops who are categorized as “neutral” and “peacekeepers”. Sudan is at war on three fronts, against Uganda, Chad, and Ethiopia, each with a significant US military presence and ongoing US military programs. The war in Sudan involves both US covert operations and US trained “rebel” factions coming in from south Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia and Uganda.”
For full details of the article, please read:http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/IE25Cb04.html
Courtesy of ‘voicer’ at the Economist, here are a few more arguments against the arbitrary nature of this entire campaign:
1. In 2003-2007, Sudan received 87% of its major conventional weapons from Russia, and only 8% from China.
2. In 2006, 48% of Sudan exports went to Japan, 31% of Sudan export went to China.
3. United Nations sent investigation to Darfur in 2005, and concluded that the Government of the Sudan has NOT pursued a policy of genocide.
4. US is the only country in the world that labels the war in Darfur genocide.
 “Mr. Bush: …You know, I read – did call it (SOUND GLITCH) genocide,
and I think we’re the only nation that has done so… ”
If I could add to the arguments I made above about Sudan…
… I fundamentally don’t believe economic sanctions are the solution here, by anyone. Perhaps I’ll write a blog post in the near future about the rather questionable results of “intervention”… simply, some people like to see a failed state and paint a villain. When I see a failed state, I see failure, period. Removing “villains” from Haiti, East Timor, and Afghanistan have not made those three countries better places for the people who live there.
But if the cost of economic sanctions must be borne by someone, then let it be a developed country more ready to bear the load.
It’s a very sharp point that you’ve made there, Buxi, about oil being fungible. The world will need the same amount of oil it needs, and Sudan will sell the same amount of oil it sells, so whether China buys from Sudan or not, the only difference is who gets the right to pay the Sudan price-tag, China or somebody else. China could gladly switch suppliers if the activists would promise to pony up the price difference. They could do that any time and from the comfort of their homes.