Posted by: sean | April 26, 2007

China arming Sudan

Lee Feinstein has a piece in TPM’s America Abroad outlining the relationship between China and Sudan. To answer a charge from comments that my evidence (also in comments) that China is still supplying Sudan with weapons was “google-y and anecdotal,” here is what Feinstein has to say about Chinese arms in Sudan. (Incidentally, I’m not sure I even understand how coming across an article in the Sudan Times and a report from Amnesty International by using google is supposed to make those sources any less valid. Furthermore, I’m not sure how a report by Amnesty International is “anecdotal.”)

China maintains a defense relationship with Sudan, despite the UN arms embargo that has been in place for Darfur since 2005. The Security Council imposed an embargo on all nongovernmental forces operating in Darfur in July 2004, and expanded it to include government forces as well in 2005. Sales to Khartoum are still permitted, although a UN panel, which visited Sudan in August 2005 to investigate violations of the embargo, recommended in April 2006 that the Security Council expand the embargo to the entire country.

Information about recent Chinese arms sales to Sudan is difficult to discern both because of China’s secrecy and because of the inherent difficulty of tracking the flow of small arms, which are below most international reporting thresholds. The UN Panel of Experts reported spotting Chinese-made military trucks in the Port of Sudan that appeared similar to those used on Sudanese Army bases in Darfur. Non-governmental organizations have reported that small arms used by rebels, janjaweed, and government forces in Darfur are of Chinese origin. There are also reports that Khartoum supplied Chinese-made automatic grenade launchers to the United Front for Democratic Change, a Chadian rebel group that also operates out of bases in Darfur. Russia and France are also suppliers of arms and military equipment to Sudan. In the last six years, Russia reported to the United Nations deliveries of 33 attack helicopters to Khartoum, eight combat aircraft, and 30 armored combat. (Between 2001 and 2004, France exported over $1 million of mostly small arms, spare parts, and ammunition.)

Beijing defends its sales to Khartoum as legal, and says that it requires all of its buyers not to transfer arms to other parties, including guerilla groups, a claim which is difficult to confirm independently. Zhai Jun, China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, said in March 2007, “With Sudan, we have cooperation in many aspects, including military cooperation. In this, we have nothing to hide.”

In early April, China received Sudan’s Joint Chief of Staff. The Chinese Minister of Defense told his Sudanese counterpart that China was “willing to further develop cooperation between the two militaries in every sphere.”

Feinstein isn’t offering up anything new or salacious in this short piece, but it’s a decent outline of the economic, political and military relationship between Sudan and China.

For more on China and Sudan, see the tireless and laudable Eric Reeves.



  1. As mentioned before, Russia and France (also see “Oil for Food”) are probably even *larger* culprits than China when it comes to military arms transfers to Khartoum. Russia’s position is just as implicated as China’s. Yet, unlike China, Russia has gone public about their willingness to transfer arms. France is France, the country known for “French exceptionalisms”, a kind of cultural-political practice that makes very little sense in the first place, perhaps a kind of tradition you’ve been too influenced by (oh, has it been mentioned that France initially supported voting AGAINST sanctions in Sudan? Too bad they’d go against anything that originates from the US.) Let them philosophize. As for China, they actually *agreed* that government to non-government transfers should be outlawed. Yes, it’s an accusation that’s hard to ascertain when it happens, but remember that the Janjaweed are largely the cause of the genocide-by-proxy. China’s position is wishy-washy, as mentioned before, and they are not clear “allies” of Khartoum as usually spelled out in the Western Media. China won’t budge in their economic relations with Sudan unless there are consequences. Human rights arguments don’t work with them, but economic sanctions certainly do. Also, like Russia and France during the Hussein Regime, I imagine China is banking in on discount oil, given the international sanctions in place. Your analysis between China and Sudan is overly simplistic and one-sided. Anyways, conversation is over.


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