The integrity of China

Say what you like about the Chinese, at least they are honest about their ambitions. They want money. Lots of it. Right now.

This is in stark contrast to how the West seem to have been behaving in the past couple of decades, all over the world. In Afghanistan. In Iraq. In Sudan. Watching the latest excerpts of a speech by some smarmy Western politician or other, one never quite believes that foreign policy is being carried out in the way that it is solely for humanitarian reasons. “It’s all about oil!” is increasingly becoming not just a pitiful whine of the long-haired lefties, but used by people from all political persuasions who can’t stomach another thinly-disguised attempt to dress up foreign intervention as humanitarian aid.

At least China has a direct approach to its foreign policy in Sudan. It is going to rape the country for all it is worth, and then bugger off. This may be a shame, and in 20 years’ time Khartoum may look ruefully back on the days when it tangoed with Beijing, but at least China is making no bones about its intentions. No wearing the Texas cowboy hat and exclaiming: “If we do not take action now, then we will have to live with ourselves knowing that we are depriving hundreds of thousands of children of a future.”

I was thinking of these thoughts today on the bus when I came across the following comment in Executive Magazine (author: Dr Ali Abdalla Ali): “It is… especially China that Sudan is looking forward to deal with in developing and promoting its huge agricultural potential… The reason behind this choice is that the Chinese, unlike some of Sudan’s neighbors (sic.) and especially Egypt, does not have its own designs.”

So, even Sudan (China’s host) recognises the integrity of the country.

The other day, nine Chinese oil workers were kidnapped in South Kordofan, not far from Abyei. With a certain amount of bravado, Beijing reputedly insists that this will not change their foreign policy – and it probably won’t. As Dan Large, a research director from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), notes, Chinese oil firms have a rather different attitude towards risk than their Western counterparts.

And what of the kidnappers? Apparently members of that dreadful rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Publicly, they claim to be campaigning against the marginalisation of Darfur – and want China, who they claim is adding to the region’s woes, out of the country. But one can’t help feel that, somewhere behind the scenes, these rebels are making a packet by kidnapping rich foreign expats.

Maybe it is not just the West that is disingenuous about their intentions.

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