A burg of spiel

Darfur, according to China

This week’s issue of Beijing Review, China’s ‘national English weekly’, has an article on how China is playing a positive role in Sudan’s Darfur region. Headlined ‘Relief and recovery’, the article tells us that China is delivering “real economic and social benefits to the people of Darfur”. This, the article explains, is done through a Chinese-initiated dual-track approach that gives “equal importance to the peacekeeping operation and the political process in Darfur”. But here’s how it frames the issue:

Darfur is an arid, underdeveloped region in western Sudan. Fighting flared up there in February 2003 after rebels took up arms against the Sudanese Government, accusing it of marginalizing the region. A humanitarian crisis has since emerged. Western countries, particularly the Unites States, have ratcheted up pressure and imposed sanctions on Khartoum because of the Darfur issue. [Beijing Review]

The humanitarian crisis, it turns out, simply emerged when rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government. According to the Beijing Review neither the activities of the armed government-backed janjaweed militia nor those of the Sudanese armed forces have anything to do with the humanitarian crisis.

The article also quotes Wang Hongyi, an African affairs expert at the China Institute of International Studies, is quoted as saying “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.”

He’s right. The conflict is unlikely to be resolved quickly. But not because it’s become a “hot” political issue. Because even after so much heat, China doesn’t even acknowledge the real issue.