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China in Darfur: humanitarian rule-maker or rule-taker?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2011

Abstract

Most people hold that in its quest for natural resources abroad, China shields rogue states with egregious human-rights record from international opprobrium and sanctions. Its political support for Sudan is a case in point. By examining Chinese perspectives on humanitarian intervention and national sovereignty, this article first argues that Beijing's interests are so multiple and complex that concern about the implications of humanitarian intervention for national integration is more crucial than oil in determining its policy towards Sudan. Paradoxically it asserts that China, a non-democratic country, is more influential than liberal democratic states in making the rules of humanitarian intervention in Darfur because of a lack of political will in the West. In addition, there are early signs that China intends to utilise its newfound power to remake international rules regarding territorial sovereignty. Further development is likely to be shaped by its interactions with the United States.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2011

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35 Gérard Prunier contends that ‘China holds a large share of responsibility in the ongoing Darfur horror. The reason is exceedingly simple: oil.’ However, the evidence he presents – 96 per cent of Sudan's exports to China in 2005 were petroleum products – can only demonstrate the economic importance of China to Sudan but not vice versa. Prunier, Gérard, Darfur: A 21st Century Genocide (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008), p. 178Google Scholar . See also, Kristof, ‘China and Sudan, Blood and Oil’.

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67 Beginning in the Treaty of the Bogue (1843), a supplementary treaty to the Sino-British Treaty of Nanjing (1842), China granted the ‘civilized’ West the right of extraterritoriality. It was not abolished until 1943, a full century later. Gong, , The Standard of ‘Civilization’ in International Society, pp. 130163Google Scholar .

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69 Verbatim Record of 5015th Meeting of the Security Council (30 July 2004), p. 14, {http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/PRO/N04/445/15/PDF/N0444515.pdf} accessed on 20 October 2010.

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72 Prunier, , Darfur, pp. 138140Google Scholar . John Garang was the leader of SPLA between 1983 and 2005. See Flint, and Waal, de, Darfur, pp. 167170Google Scholar for an account of the activities of USAID in Sudan.

73 Hehir, Aiden, Humanitarian Intervention after Kosovo: Iraq, Darfur and the Record of Global Civil Society (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 79CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

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75 Ibid.

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77 Jok, , Sudan, pp. 238274Google Scholar . George W. Bush defended his decision not to commit troops into Darfur in an interview with the BBC in February 2008. ‘In Full: George W Bush's BBC Interview’, BBC News Online (14 February 2008), {http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7245670.stm}, accessed on 15 February 2008.

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80 See Prunier, , Darfur, pp. 165166Google Scholar for the problems of the DPA.

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82 De Waal, ‘Darfur and the Failure of Responsibility to Protect’, p. 1042; International Crisis Group, China's Thirst for Oil, p. 27Google Scholar ; Large, ‘China's Sudan Engagement’, p. 619; ‘Liu Guijin: jiejue Da Er Fu Er wenti ying zhuzhong san lingyu san yuanze’ (Liu Guijin: We Should Emphasize Three Areas and Three Principles in Resolving the Darfur Issue), Xinhua News Agency (22 June 2007), {http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2007–06/22/content_6276882.htm} accessed on 17 August 2010.

83 UN Department of Public Information, ‘Security Council Authorizes Deployment of UN-African Union “Hybrid” Peace Operation in Bid to Resolve Darfur Conflict’ (31 July 2007), {http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sc9089.doc.htm} accessed on 16 June 2010; Flint, and Waal, de, Darfur, p. 196Google Scholar .

84 At the end of September 2010, only seven Western states (Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) contributed military and police personnel to the UNAMID, but their combined contributions were only 21 or 0.10 per cent of the total. UN Peacekeeping, ‘Monthly Summary of Contributors of Military and Police Personnel’.

85 He, Yin, ‘The Peacekeeping Dragon Is on Safari’, Asia Times Online (8 February 2008)Google Scholar , {http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JB08Ad01.html} accessed on 20 February 2008.

86 ‘Darfur Rebels Tell China Peacekeepers to Go Home’, Agence France Presse (25 November 2007), {http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jJmS2147zg7o8K45CZHyG3AkKK3w} accessed on 24 August 2010.

87 Cooper, Helene, ‘Spielberg Drops Out as Adviser to Beijing Olympics in Dispute over Darfur Crisis’, New York Times (13 February 2008)Google Scholar , {http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/world/asia/13china.html} accessed on 19 June 2010.

88 ‘China Gives Rare Rebukes to Ally Sudan’, Irish Examiner (25 February 2008), through Factiva.

89 UN Peacekeeping, ‘Monthly Summary of Contributors of Military and Police Personnel’.

90 The meteoric rise of China's material power helps to restore Chinese people's confidence in their old civilisation and enables the elites to resist or reject the norm of democratic governance derived from the West. Lynch, Daniel C., ‘Envisioning China's Political Future: Elite Responses to Democracy as a Global Constitutive Norm’, International Studies Quarterly, 51 (2007), pp. 701722CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

91 In addition to China and Russia, some formerly colonised Muslim countries such as Algeria, Pakistan and Qatar gave Sudan their backing in the voting for the UNSC Resolutions 1556 (2004), 1564 (2004), 1591 (2005), 1593 (2005), 1672 (2006) and 1706 (2006). In contrast, China's alleged arms proliferation to Pakistan and Iran as well as the undertaking of nuclear tests from 1993 to 1996 have not attracted solid support from the countries of the South. Therefore, China's socialisation into international norms is an uneven process and partly contingent on whether it has ‘like-minded’ allies in the developing world to shield itself from the normative pressure to conform. For the negative reactions of developing countries to China's nuclear tests, see Johnston, , Social States, p. 113Google Scholar .

92 Zhongying, Pang, ‘China's Non-Intervention Question’, Global Responsibility to Protect, 1 (2009), p. 250Google Scholar .

93 Bellamy, , Responsibility to Protect, p. 153Google Scholar .

94 Sudan made it be known in April 2007 that ‘[t]he force will be hybrid only in that the UN will provide the funding’ and that the UN ‘could provide technicians and office worker but no combat troops’. Prunier, , Darfur, p. 182Google Scholar , emphasis in original.

95 Chan, Gerald, China's Compliance in Global Affairs: Trade, Arms Control, Environmental Protection, Human Rights (Singapore: World Scientific, 2006)Google Scholar ; Johnston, , Social States; Ann Kent, Beyond Compliance: China, International Organizations, and Global Security (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007)Google Scholar .

96 See Articles 56 and 58 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, {http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm} accessed on 29 July 2010. Major General Luo Yan of the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Sciences points out that the drill area is only 500 km (270 nautical miles) from Beijing. Yan, Luo, ‘Why China Opposes US-South Korean Military Exercises in the Yellow Sea’, People's Daily Online (16 July 2010)Google Scholar , {http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90780/91342/7069743.html} accessed on 29 July 2010.

97 Spegele, Brian, ‘US, China Avoid Tiff over Plans for Naval Exercises off Korean Coast’, Wall Street Journal Online (15 July 2010)Google Scholar , {http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703394204575368110456298760.html}, accessed 28 July 2010; idem, ‘A Sea Change in US-China Naval Relations’, ibid., (17 July2010), {http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2010/07/17/a-sea-change-in-us-china-naval-relations} accessed on 28 July 2010.

98 Initially the US planned to deploy the USS George Washington to the Yellow Sea in the second exercise in September 2010. But later the government changed its mind. Xiaokun, Li and Cafarello, Natalie Trusso, ‘US Aircraft Carrier Heads for Yellow Sea’, China Daily (7 August 2010)Google Scholar , {http://www.chinadaily.cn/world/2010–08/07/content_11114261.htm} accessed on 7 August 2010; ‘Yellow Sea Drill Involves No Aircraft Carriers: US’, Agence France Presse (20 August 2010), through Factiva. The plans for another military exercise in October 2010 in the Yellow Sea that would have involved the aircraft carrier were cancelled ahead of a G20 summit meeting in Seoul in November 2010. Huang, Cary, ‘Scrapping of Joint Exercise Shows Sino-US Ties Warming’, South China Morning Post (26 October 2010)Google Scholar , through LexisNexis.

99 Blumenthal, Daniel, ‘The US Stands Up to China's Bullying’. Wall Street Journal Online (27 July 2010)Google Scholar , {http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703700904575391862120429050.html} accessed on 28 July 2010.

100 Maritime powers, particularly the US, have long been opposed to coastal states' quest for expanding their jurisdictions seawards beyond the territorial waters. What is significant now is that it is China, a strong candidate for world power, rather than the traditional ‘territorialists’ such as Brazil and Peru that challenges the US. Boczek, Boleslaw Adam, ‘Peacetime Military Activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Third Countries’, Ocean Development and International Law, 19 (1988), pp. 445468CrossRefGoogle Scholar ; Pedrozo, Raul (Pete), ‘Preserving Navigational Rights and Freedoms: The Right to Conduct Military Activities in China's Exclusive Economic Zone’, Chinese Journal of International Law, 9 (2010), pp. 929CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

101 China's assertiveness in both the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea has met with resistance from the US as well as Southeast Asian countries for the latter. ‘Testing the Waters’, Economist (31 July 2010), through Factiva.

102 Hobsbawm, Eric, Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism (London: Little, Brown, 2007), pp. 1011.Google Scholar

103 China began to take major steps in resolving the Darfur crisis when the preparation of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was reaching its final stage.

104 It is argued that Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary-General, Canada and the ICISS were the norm entrepreneur, champion and broker of R2P respectively. Weiss, Thomas G. and Thakur, Ramesh, Global Governance and the UN: An Unfinished Journey (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2010), pp. 317319Google Scholar . For the role of the West in creating the norm of humanitarian intervention in the post-Cold War era, see Wheeler, Nicholas J., ‘The Humanitarian Responsibilities of Sovereignty: Explaining the Development of a New Norm of Military Intervention for Humanitarian Purposes in International Society’, in Welsh, Jennifer M. (ed.), Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 2951Google Scholar ; Finnemore, , The Purpose of Intervention, pp. 5284Google Scholar .

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