Chinese Foreign Minister Visits Sudans

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is visiting both Sudan and the newly independent South Sudan, marking the first high-level visit from Beijing since the latter’s secession last month. From the BBC:

China has been a strong supporter of Sudan and its President Omar al-Bashir, despite allegations of Sudanese war crimes in Darfur.

The visit comes after Sudan released a cargo of South Sudanese oil it had blocked in a row over custom duties.

South Sudan has to export oil via the north because it has no port or refineries of its own. However, the two sides have so far failed to agree on transit fees, or how to share oil revenue.

Chinese companies are heavily involved in Sudanese oil extraction.

The BBC’s James Copnall in Khartoum says that since three-quarters of the reserves now lie in South Sudan, Mr Yang’s visit will be closely followed for any possible signs of a shift in China’s loyalties.

The Paris-based Sudan Tribune relays Yang’s comments on the situation:

The Chinese top diplomat was quoted as saying by the government sponsored Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website that North and South Sudan “will lose the peace equation” by not cooperating on the joint and controversial issues.

He also affirmed that Beijing’s policy towards Khartoum will not change regardless of the pressures, internal and external variables adding that China will continue its support for infrastructure projects in the fields of economy and development.

On Darfur, Jiechi’s stressed that the ultimate solution to the conflict in the restive region lies in development and eliminating the causes of the conflict. He said that the recent Doha accord signed between the Sudanese government and one rebel group is an important achievement for the continuation of the peace and political process in Darfur with everybody’s will.