The Archbishop of Sudan accused China yesterday of pursuing a damaging policy of economic gain in his country and urged Beijing to use its influence to help ease rising tension ahead of elections.
Archbishop Daniel Deng said Beijing, which imported $6.3 billion of Sudanese crude oil in 2008, should try to help bring together parties at loggerheads over the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including the delivery of credible elections.
“China is looking only for minerals, they are looking for economic benefit. That is all. That is damaging the country. They are not even making peace,” the Anglican archbishop said during a visit to Lambeth Palace in London.
“They are not interested in whether Sudan goes to war or not. That is not their mission, that is not their problem.”
Sudan, which emerged from a north-south civil war in 2005, is due to hold its first multi-party elections in more than two decades in April, followed by an independence referendum in the south next year.
But tensions are increasing in a country divided along ethnic, religious and ideological lines. Last year 2500 people died and 350 000 people were displaced from their homes during violence in the south.
Last week, Britain’s Minister for Africa Glenys Kinnock, warned failure to deliver credible elections could result in instability, not only in Sudan but the whole region.
Deng said it was in China’s long-term interest to work in a peaceful and stable environment.
“If they want to have a long process in Sudan, they are supposed to help Sudan not go back to war because if Sudan goes back to war, China will lose,” he said.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, called for a single senior negotiator to unite the different parties.
“I would like China to say how do they use their influence to make a united Sudan advantageous to the people on the ground themselves,” he said.