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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

China Intervens to Help Bring Sudan in Line

China has made it increasingly clear that, where Africa's concerned, Western donors must take the new kid on the block seriously.

China comes with an impressive legacy of economic growth and a new package of solutions for Africa's problems. But it also comes with different rules, such as not interfering in another country's affairs, and giving massive loans with no political strings attached.
At the same time, China wants to look good on the international stage and boost its role as a world leader - and that's where Darfur comes in.

Competition is rife between China and Western donors, and they strongly disagree on many issues. When China and the United States get together to discuss Africa - as increasingly they seem to do - their main focus is Darfur, experts from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told a meeting at London's Chatham House this week.

China had long opposed international plans to enlarge the peacekeeping force in Darfur. But recently it has been the trigger in getting Sudan to adopt aspects of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for a larger international force in Darfur, according to Bates Gill and Stephen Morrison, authors of the CSIS report China's Expanding Role in Africa: Implications for the United States.

"We have seen a dramatic alignment with the West on Darfur," said Morrison. "It all remains to be seen as to what that delivers in terms of results."

China's official policy of non-interference isn't just a question of ideology. It's also a question of branding, according to Morrison. "China is going to work very hard as a South-South donor because this is what sets it apart from the U.S. and other Western donors - so the non-interference brand is very important."

Yet the "brand" belies reality, explained Gill, because China does actually interfere when it's in its interests, for example in North Korea. "It intervenes more quietly and differently than other interventionists," he said. "We'll see it probably doing more of this in Sudan in the future."

The Rest @ Alertnet from Rueters

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