SOUTH SUDAN – WHO KILLED THE CHINESE PEACEKEEPERS?

Continuing from my previous BLOG ..

          The previous blog mentioned that two Chinese soldiers were killed during the four days of violence in Juba, prompting the rest of the Chinese troops to run away from their posts. Well, the funeral of the two boys back home was a sombre affair indeed, esp since the Chinese populace is not very used to seeing body bags of their soldiers coming back home because, well, the PLA hasn’t fought at all for nearly four decades since the humiliation at the hands of Vietnam.

        One of the peacekeepers killed was merely 22 years old while the other one was 36 years, both of them, in all probability, the only children to their parents, thanks to the ‘One Child’ policy. This makes the losses even sadder. They would have had huge responsibilities towards their parents and both sets of grandparents who will now have to fend for themselves in their old age. More on that sometime later.

        Coming back to the topic at hand – who killed them? It would in all probability have been the SPLA, or the govt forces, since it is they who were reported to have destroyed the UN compound in vicinity of the Chinese manned post that was later abandoned by those manning it. But digging a little deeper, things get a bit ‘interesting’. Firstly, let us see why the Chinese are there in South Sudan in the first place. The answer? OIL.

        As of 2012, China was consuming nearly 80% of South Sudan’s oil production. This being the case, Chinese sending peacekeepers to South Sudan makes sense – the need to ensure stability and tranquillity in a major source of oil.  But why is Sudan STILL in turmoil despite Chinese outreach ever since the 90s – a time when the USSR no longer existed, and the US was busy elsewhere, getting interested only when its pursuit of terrorists brought Sudan into focus. Part of the answer lies in the previous question itself – CHINA.

        Ever since its outreach to Sudan, even before its partition, China has been arming various groups with reckless abandon and utter disregard to the human suffering brought about by the proliferation of weapons in the country, all in the hope of oil. The human rights violations perpetrated in Sudan are well documented. Human Rights Watch mentioned in a 2003 REPORT titled CHINA’S INVOLVEMENT IN SUDAN: ARMS AND OIL that China supplied not only small arms but even helicopter gunships and tanks, in the hope of recovering the costs in terms of access to oil (more on that later in this blog).

        Amnesty International has been even more pointed in its 2007 report, saying that “Africa has long been the victim of the greed of western governments and companies. Now, it faces a new challenge from China. The Chinese government and Chinese companies have shown little regard for their “human rights footprint” on the continent. The deference to national sovereignty, antipathy to human rights in foreign policy, and readiness to engage with abusive regimes, are all endearing China to African governments. But for those same reasons, African civil society has been less welcoming. The health and safety standards and treatment of workers by Chinese companies have fallen short of international standards. As the biggest consumer of Sudan’s oil and a major supplier of its weapons, China has shielded the Sudanese government against pressure from the international community

        It shows that far from wanting to help Sudan, China has explicitly hurt it instead, by using its membership of the UNSC to veto action aimed at stopping genocide in Sudan. Though in 2007, under threat of an Olympic boycott, China mellowed down its stand, how long that lasted is anyone’s guess. In fact, far from acting against genocide, China actively sold weapons with which humanity was slaughtered in Sudan, as were, sadly, its own soldiers.

        More recently too, China has been called out for fuelling the fire by supplying arms to South Sudan by THIS 2015 report from the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan. The report says places on record that China had continued to supply arms and ammo to South Sudan despite recent violence. And what was the ‘violence’ like? The reports says, “..all parties to the conflict have been targeting civilians as part of their military tactics… Scores of civilians have been killed, maimed, tortured, burned alive inside their homes, displaced, raped and abducted, and children have been recruited and used as part of the war effort..”

        The situation has deteriorated dramatically since April 2015, when South Sudan’s military began a major offensive in the oil-rich (Yes, once again, OIL) Upper Nile region.  “Since the offensive in the greater Upper Nile area began in April 2015, the intensity and brutality of the violence aimed at civilians are hitherto unseen, even in what has already been, without a doubt, an exceedingly violent conflict,” the report says. The report suggests that South Sudan’s government was emboldened by access to new military technologies – specifically helicopters and amphibious vehicles – and was trying to overwhelm the rebel forces.”

       And guess where did bulk of that ‘new military technology’ come from.

        Bottomline – China has played a huge role in destabilizing Sudan, all in the hope of access to its oil. For a country with perhaps the maximum clout in Sudan lately, China has come up short on its respect for humanity and the lands that feed its growing thirst for oil.

        Not making a statement here, but just wondering whether the bullet / shell that killed the Chinese peacekeepers and the weapon that fired it was, in fact, supplied by the Chinese themselves?

        Oh, in the end, talking about oil, the conflict has taken a predictable toll on oil exports, with the UN panel saying oil production had dropped from 245,000 barrels per day in late 2013 to 163,000 bpd in July 2015. So much for tactical brilliance in the quest for oil.

 

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