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That makes China National Petroleum Corporation, which recently surpassed Exxon in barrels of oil produced annually, a major stakeholder in the region’s economy. Sudanese petroleum exports went from around 60,000 barrels a day in 1999 to around 500,000 barrels in 2006, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association; much of this was due to investment and assistance from Chinese companies.
China’s oil concessions are now mostly located in South Sudan. After South Sudan officially split off, it carried with it about four-fifths of the country’s petroleum production capacity, though no oil is currently being pumped out of the southern fields. Major transit for oil exports remained controlled by Khartoum, through Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
If Beijing is wary of looking to favor South Sudan, it certainly didn’t hesitate to give President Kiir the red carpet treatment. Kiir not only met with Hu, but also with Wu Bangguo, head of China’s National People’s Congress as well as the country’s second-highest ranking Communist party official. Kiir was also greeted by Dai Bingguo, a state councilor and a prominent figure in Chinese foreign policy.
Hu promised support for the South’s economic development and “efforts to merge