Sudan’s Use of Chinese Arms Shows Beijing’s Balancing Act

| April 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

Sudanese jets fired rockets bearing
Chinese characters during an air strike inside South Sudan just
a week before that country’s president travelled to Beijing to
strengthen ties and drum up economic support.

Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based research group, analyzed
fragments from the explosives and said they probably were from a
Chinese-made 80-mm rocket fired by a jet in an April 15 air
strike on Bentiu, the capital of Sudan’s oil-rich Unity state.

“They have Chinese characters and have a dark green paint
that is typical among Chinese rockets,” Jonah Leff, the
survey’s Sudan project coordinator, said in an April 25 response
to e-mailed questions. “China is Khartoum’s principal supplier
of weapons, and the two countries have enjoyed an arms-for-oil
relationship for several years.”

Sudan’s use of the rocket highlights the diplomatic
tightrope China is walking as it deals with Sudan since the
south seceded in July and took with it three-quarters of the
formerly united country’s oil production. China is the biggest
purchaser of Sudanese crude and China National Petroleum Corp.
is among the largest producers in the two countries.

China is handling the weapons issue “prudently” and its
“cooperation with Sudan does not violate” United Nations
Security Council resolutions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman
Liu Weimin told reporters April 27 in Beijing.

Months of border skirmishes and allegations of support for
insurgents by both countries escalated on April 10 when South
Sudan occupied the disputed oil-rich area of Heglig. Ten days
later, it said it was withdrawing to comply with a Security

‘Declared War’

Sudan said it drove the southern army out. It also carried
out a series of bombing raids inside South Sudan, including one
that killed two people in a market in Bentiu.

The south’s information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin,

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Category: South Sudan News