The Sino-Sudanese Relations

Chinese ambassador to the Sudan in an intrview with sudanow.info.sd

KHARTOUM, (sudanow.info.sd) – The peoples and leaderships of the Sudan and China regard as of a special importance the relationship between their two countries which they identify as “friendship of all weathers”. The bilateral cooperation between the two countries is cited as exemplary for the South-South cooperation.

Under the growing political, economic and commercial roles of China and the increasing importance of cooperation between the African Continent and the Arab region on one hand and China on the other, the Sudan and China are associated in several mechanisms for dialogue and understanding, including the African-Chinese Cooperation Forum and the Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum.

Those forums have emphasized a number of common values and principles for the two countries. China has gone through a tremendous economic transformation during the past 55 years of ties with the Sudan, achieving more sustainable and long-lasting economic growth. This resulted in an economic structural change for China and an economic-political change for the Sudan, introducing a new push for the relations of economic exchange and commercial cooperation between the two countries.

sudanow.info.sd: The Sudan was among the first African nations to establish diplomatic relation with China. How big is the volume of cooperation between the Sudan and China in the economic, cultural, training and trade exchange fields?

Ambassador: Despite the geographic distance between them, the traditional friendship between the Sudan and China has become deep-rooted in history. The friendship between the two peoples dates back to the era of struggle against imperialism and colonialism. The British butcher Charles George Gordon who committed the massacre of the people of China was assassinated in Sudan. Soon upon declaration of the independence of the Sudan on 1 January 1956, the Chinese Government instantly recognized the new independent nation and sent a congratulatory cable on January 4 of the same year. For its part, the Sudan was among the first African and Arab states that established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China on 4 February 1959.

Taking a retrospective view over the 55 years of Sino-Sudanese relations we can see that the two countries have remained committed to the five principles of peaceful coexistence, adhering to the concepts of equality, mutual interest and joint development. The Sino-Sudanese friendship is described as “Friendship of all weathers” while the bilateral cooperation between the two nations is a model for the South-South cooperation. The two peoples have developed an intimate friendship and fraternity that can withstand all international and regional changes. Under the auspices and direct backing by the two leaderships, the cordial cooperation, during the recent years, has yielded bountiful fruit in various spheres, creating a new powerful driving force for the development of the two countries and bringing in substantial benefits for the two peoples.

In the political sphere, the leaders of the two nations exchanged visits on a continuous basis while the mutual confidence continued to consolidate. The Sudan has offered invaluable support on issues that affect the essential interests of China while, in return, the latter has always backed the Sudan’s efforts for maintenance of its national unity and territorial integrity. The two sides also maintain close contacts on hot regional issues like Palestine and the situation in South Sudan and they adopt close positions on the important international issues like the climatic change and development imbalance between the North and the South and, because they are developing nations, they participate in similar historic circumstances. The two countries are committed to the five peaceful coexistence principles, endeavor to preserve the common interests of the developing nations and advocate establishment of a fair, equitable international political, economic and security body.

The economic and commercial cooperation is an effective factor in the relations of friendship and cooperation between China and the Sudan. The trade exchange has grown dramatically in the recent years, exceeding 10 million dollars and although it was affected by the secession of the South, the trade exchange maintained continued growth, as in 2013 the trade exchange reached 4.5 billion dollars, up by 20.5% from that of 2012. China is still the biggest commercial partner with the Sudan and, moreover, it is the biggest investor in the Sudan, as with the assistance of Chinese oil companies, the Sudanese oil industry has been established based on integration, modern technology and big size. The Chinese investments have grown to include such renascent activities as agriculture and mining. China is also a major player in construction efforts in the Sudan, contributing to the construction of many important projects related the development of the Sudan, including Merowe Dam. Moreover, China has remained offering interest-free unconditional aid in contribution to building of roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and other infrastructural and charity projects the most remarkable of which was the Friendship Hall, now a landmark of Khartoum.

The human and cultural exchange between China and the Sudan expands continuously and popular and governmental artistic missions have exchanged visits. The Sudanese acrobatic troupe that was trained in China in the past century was warmly acclaimed by the Sudanese people who called “the Sino-Sudanese Friendship Flower”. In 2009 the Confucius Institute was established in the University of Khartoum and taught Chinese Language to thousands of government officials and other persons. In addition, there is a growing number of Sudanese students studying in China as the latter offers an annual 100 scholarships for Sudanese students in China. The Chinese students in the Sudan are also increasing in numbers. Moreover, since 1971, China has dispatched 31 medical missions to the Sudan, treating around 8 million Sudanese patients and carrying out 160,000 surgical operations of all sorts. In addition, the Chinese government organizes training courses each year for more than 300 Sudanese from government units and voluntary organizations in the fields of economy, finance, agriculture, health, science, education, justice, etc.

sudanow.info.sd: The Sudanese leadership values China’s role in support of the Sudan in the international forums and occasions without interference in the Sudan’s domestic affairs. Is the new Chinese leadership going to play the same role?

Ambassador: China is the second biggest economic power and biggest developing nation in the world. The Chinese people are exerting their utmost efforts for realization of “the Chinese Dream” of a prosperous nation and happy people. The Sudan is an important African and Arab nation which is also having a dream of achieving peace and development. It is in the interest of the two countries to continue consolidating the relations of friendship and cooperation. China is concerned with developing its ties with the Sudan and is willing to exploit the 55th anniversary of establishing the diplomatic relations for pushing the ties of friendship and cooperation to a new stage for realization of the dreams of the two peoples.

sudanow.info.sd: How do you view the future relations between Sudan and South Sudan, bearing in mind you have huge oil investments in both nations?

Ambassador: – In the past the two countries were one state and now they are neighbouring states with numerous interests in common. A Chinese proverb says we can choose a friend but we cannot choose a neighbour. Peace is in the interest of the two countries while war harms both of them and what is beneficial to both countries and peoples is only peaceful coexistence and joint development. In the past months, the relations between the two countries have passed through a remarkable improvement and the cooperation between them bore positive results in the fields of petroleum, border security and social development. Being common friends to both countries, we are delighted with this and we appreciate the good-will and efforts on the part of Sudan for improving relations with South Sudan. At present, the situation in South Sudan is not clear and there are ambiguous factors surrounding the relations between the two countries but we are confident that the Sudan will exert further efforts for maintenance of development of the bilateral relation. We advocate consultations for ironing out the pending issues in a peaceful way and China is planning to play a constructive role for pushing the relations between Sudan and South Sudan forward.

sudanow.info.sd: The present situation in South Sudan has made China exert more efforts for restoration of stability in the newborn state. Is this true?

Ambassador: – Since the eruption of the conflict, China has lent a positive support to the mediation process in the framework of IGAD efforts, has taken part in the ceasefire monitoring mechanism and has exerted tremendous efforts for encouraging the negotiations for reaching peace. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yei, met the two negotiating South Sudanese delegations during a visit to Ethiopia and urged them to stop the hostilities and violence in observance of the interest of the people of South Sudan. The special Chinese envoy to Africa, Tchong Jian Hua, has made shuttle visits to South Sudan and the neighbouring countries and has played a special role for pushing the negotiations forward. China has offered humanitarian aid immediately on deterioration of the situation there. And, being a permanent UN Security Council member, China positively backs the mission of UNMISS and has exerted diligent efforts in the international forums for reaching peace and stability in South Sudan as soon as possible.
There is a Chinese proverb that says: “Peace is like the sun rays and air which we usually do not feel but we cannot live with them.” The people of South Sudan have suffered from the warlords for long years and are best qualified to appraise the value of peace. China believes that the two parties to the conflict must immediately implement the cessation of hostilities agreement on the ground and work for protection of the petroleum infrastructure and facilities, improvement of the humanitarian situation and creation of circumstances conducive to comprehensively and appropriately resolution of relevant problems. China appreciates the mediatory efforts by IGAD and the African Union and other bodies and calls upon the international community to reinforces its mediation and back the efforts by IGAD. China is determined to persist on lending support to the political reconciliation and to the rehabilitation programmes in South Sudan. Since the eruption of the conflict in South Sudan, the Sudanese government has exerted tremendous efforts for calming the situation there and China appreciates and supports those efforts and is willing to join in those efforts for reaching peace and stability in South Sudan.

sudaow.info: China has played a great role in assisting the African nations for developing their capacities and exploiting their natural resources in the context of the strategic partnership of the relations between China and those nations. Could YE shed light on this relationship?

Ambassador: – The long distance and the mountains and seas could not disrupt the friendship between the Chinese and peoples of Africa. This friendship has been built up by leaders of the successive generations of the two sides. The first Chinese President Mao Tse Tong and the first Chinese Prime Minister Chu En Lai and Chinese pioneer politicians have over years laid down a firm foundation-stone for this friendship. During the second half of the past century, the Chinese and Africans fought the battle for liberation and development, linking together by similar historic experiences of development and common strategic interests. This friendship is further cemented by the historic international developments and changes and the two sides have continued exchanging understanding, respect and support and have maintained a faithful friendship based on solidarity, cooperation and joint development.

The mutual political trust between the two sides continued to consolidate during the past years as China has remained upholding the five peaceful coexistence principles and supporting the African nations’ solidarity, relying on itself and playing a major role in the international affairs. In return, the African nations have remained supporting the Chinese positions on issues of essential interest to China. The positions of the two sides get close on many international issues and hot regional questions. They maintain close contacts and positive coordination and they both seek to protect the common interests of the developing nations and establish an equitable international political, economic and security organization. A Chinese-African cooperation forum was established in 2000, in joint efforts, which has become a platform for dialogue between China and Africa and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation. And during the Forum’s summit that was held in Beijing in 2006, the two sides formed a new strategic partnership that helped push the bilateral relations into the path of accelerated development. The new President of China, Chi Jing Ping, paid his first ever visit abroad to Africa in March 2013 during which he expressed his country’s extreme intent for promoting the Chinese-African relations, emphasizing the relations concept of “true friendship, practical cooperation, fraternal cordiality and frankness for resolving the problems” and he portrayed a dream for the future Chinese-African cooperation.

sudanow.info.sd: What are the advantages of the Chinese-African cooperation?

AMBASSADOR: – The Chinese-African cooperation is characterized by the merits of integration which has produced bumper fruits on the basis of joint development. The establishment of the Chinese-African Cooperation Forum is considered a powerful motivator for developing the economic and commercial ties between China and the African nations, raising the volume of the trade exchange between the two sides to 200 billion dollars in 2013 compared to 10 billion dollars in 2000. The Chinese investment in Africa has also continued to increase, with the Chinese companies engaged in investment in Africa reaching 2000 in number. Those companies not only create jobs for the Africa peoples but also carry out various charity activities of benefit to the local communities and peoples. China is, at present, regarded as the biggest trading partner of Africa, while Africa is the second biggest contracting market for China and the fourth target of Chinese investments.

An important pillar for the new strategic partnership between China and Africa is the development of the popular and cultural contacts between the two sides. The cultural and popular contacts have become more active in the recent years while the Chinese-African cooperation has developed at a high pace in the fields of education, technology, health and human resources development. Several mechanisms have been launched, including a platform for the Chinese and African cultures, a joint research programme, a think-tank symposium, a popular symposium and a third symposium for youth leaders. Thirty-seven Confucius institutes or Confucius courses have been established in 27 African countries. St present, the Chinese Government offers more than 5000 studying scholarships for African nations each year and organizes training courses for more than 6000 Africans in different fields.

I can say that China is regarded as the world’s biggest developing and most active nation, while Africa is the world’s biggest host of developing countries of great hopes. Under the new circumstances, China will inalterably commit itself to the promotion of friendship and strengthening the practical cooperation and expansion of the humanitarian and cultural exchange with the African nations. China will, as usual, participate with the African countries in pushing forward the ties of Chinese-African strategic partnership for realization of the new dreams of prosperous nations and happy peoples and for consolidation of peace and development in Africa and the world at large.

sudanow.info.sd: The Sudan has been a target of heavy pressures by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Do you think those pressures were a result of failure by the Sudan in explaining its viewpoint and in rallying its allies, like China? Or do you think there are other factors that China regards as more effective in the issue?

Ambassador: – The Government of China supports the efforts by the international community for fighting grave international crimes and for consolidating justice and, at the same time, wishers that those efforts would contribute to promoting peace and not to have an adverse impact on placating situations and on the process of reconciliation among the concerned states and regions. China emphasizes that the actions of the ICC should truly serve the interest of the local people.

China has expressed its regret and dismay over the ICC accusations against the leaders of Sudan and numerous African and Arab countries as well as such regional organizations as the African Union and Arab League have voiced palpable opposition to the accusation. Most of the developing nations opine that the accusation constitutes a grave precedent that jeopardizes democracy of the international relations and the efforts for resolving the concerned problems.

At present, positive developments have occurred in the process for peace in Darfur, something which was acclaimed by the international community. For this reason, the ICC actions should contribute to stability of the situation in Sudan and avert introducing new complex elements to the Darfur crisis. As a friend of the Sudan, China is committed to objective and fair positions on this issue and works for finding an appropriate solution in collaboration with the international community on the basis of guaranteeing peace and stability for the Sudan.