South Sudan seeks support in China

South Sudan seeks support in China

South Sudan seeks support in China

Sudanese armed forces listen to a speech from President al-Bashir (not showing), in Heglig. Meanwhile, South’s president visits China to seek diplomatic support. AP photo

The president of newly independent South Sudan is lobbying China for investment in his country’s oil industry and diplomatic support in an escalating conflict with Sudan that’s threatening to become an all-out war.

Sudan and South Sudan, which broke away from its neighbor and became independent last year, have been unable to resolve disputes over sharing oil revenue and determining a border. Talks broke down this month, and a Sudanese military bombing in South Sudan killed at least two people on April 23.

China’s energy needs make it deeply vested in the future of the two Sudans, and Beijing is uniquely positioned to exert influence in the conflict given its deep trade ties to the resource-rich south and decades-long diplomatic ties with Sudan’s government in the north.

Both have tried to win Beijing’s favor, but China has been careful to cultivate ties with each nation. Like others in the international community, China has repeatedly urged the two sides to return to negotiations. On his first trip to China since taking office, President Salva Kiir meets Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday, and is expected to see Vice Premier Li Keqiang today.

The Financial Times on April 22 quoted South Sudan’s lead negotiator Pagan Amum as saying Kiir would be seeking Chinese financing for a long-planned oil pipeline that would bypass Sudan. The report said Beijing has already pledged technical assistance for the pipeline, which would allow land-locked South Sudan an alternative export route for its large oil reserves.

UN: Stop the slide to war

Meanwhile, UN leader Ban Ki-moon deplored the cross-border air raids, and called on Omar al-Bashir and Kiir to stop the “slide” to war after months of escalation along their oil-rich border. U.S. President Barack Obama, while calling on Sudan to cease its aerial bombardments, has said South Sudan “must end its support for armed groups inside Sudan and it must cease its military actions across the border.”

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.