On Monday, President Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao during the Nuclear Summit in Seoul, South Korea. During the President’s remarks before the meeting, Sudan was the only country mentioned outside of the context of nuclear proliferation. Earlier this month, George Clooney asked the President to prioritize Sudan with China and last week Congressman Jim McGovern sent the President a letter to the President urging him to work with China to end violence in Sudan.
China has been a key ally of Sudanese government due to its economic interest and is heavily invested in Sudan’s oil sector. The Chinese government not only has the unique ability to influence the Sudanese government, but as a permanent member of the UN Security Council also has the ability of limiting punitive action against Sudan through its veto power. Since the split between Sudan and South Sudan, China has attempted to bolster relations with the South as its economic interests were divided between the two countries.
During the meeting, President Hu stated that both countries have the common interest of peace and stability in Sudan and that “China and the United States should continue to exert their own influence encourage Sudan and South Sudan to resolve their outstanding issues through negotiation.”
Below is the letter from Congressman Jim McGovern to President Obama on the need to raise the ongoing atrocities in Sudan during his meeting with President Hu:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Your upcoming meeting with President Hu during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul offers a unique opportunity to work with China to address the ongoing atrocities being committed against civilians in Sudan. As a humanitarian disaster in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile unfolds due to the government of Sudan’s denial of international humanitarian access and indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilians, there is an urgent need to work in a concerted way with those like China who have influence with the government of Sudan. In particular, I urge you to encourage President Hu and his government to engage consistently, at the highest levels, and in close coordination with the United States, on issues related to the humanitarian crisis and ongoing violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, as well as on all outstanding issues currently under negotiation between Khartoum and Juba.
As you are aware, the situation in Sudan has escalated significantly, resulting in devastating consequences for an increasing number of civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are at risk of starvation because the Sudanese government is blocking food and humanitarian aid. While China has been increasingly involved in oil negotiations, they must also utilize their influence with the Sudanese government to end attacks against civilians and support humanitarian access for aid organizations and United Nations agencies.
I hope that during and following your meeting with President Hu, the United States and China will work together and lead the U.N. Security Council to maintain that spotlight towards ensuring an end to atrocities being committed in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, as well as the negotiation of key post-independence arrangements, including transitional financial arrangements – inclusive of oil-related issues – border management, and the Abyei Area.
The positive engagement of China will be as critical as the ongoing involvement of the United States to the future of Sudan and South Sudan. Given its strong economic ties, China holds great diplomatic leverage when it comes to Sudan and, for China, supporting the establishment of long-term peace must be seen as critical to their economic interests.
Recent reports by Amnesty International and by the U.N. Panel of Experts on Sudan included evidence of Chinese made arms used in Sudan. While China’s arms agreement with Khartoum indicated that weapons provided to the government are not permitted to be used in Darfur that is clearly still happening. Therefore, the United States should encourage China to definitively stop its sale of weapons to the government of Sudan.
I appreciate the commitment your Administration has made towards promoting peace in Sudan and encourage the United States to maintain its high level of involvement with international partners to end atrocities against civilians.
James P. McGovern
Member of Congress