Business Week | Sudan’s Use of Chinese Arms Shows Beijing’s Balancing Act
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.