Friday, August 15, 2008

China in Sudan

The NY Times has a very succinct summary of the China-Sudan situation: "The brief against China is by and large uncontested (except by China): the Sudan government buys its weapons from China with the foreign currency it makes from selling China its oil. China, meanwhile, protects Sudan from excessive attention in the United Nations Security Council." This is written in a much longer piece discussing the methodology of a group called "Dreams for Darfur," which is strange to read in retrospect because all the plans for making the Sudanese genocide a major issue for this Olympics don't seem to have materialized. I mean, I was looking out for this issue and I can't say I've seen it a whole lot. Is it just me?

I think the inkling of China's connection with Sudan came about only because Steven Spielberg resigned as a creative consultant for the opening ceremonies. I don't think that hurt the opening ceremonies, but it was the thing that got this issue into the news. Aside from that and Joey Cheek, former Olympic speedskater, having his visa revoked before the games started (Cheek is the president of an organization called "Team Darfur"), I haven't seen this issue mentioned very much.

Mostly, I am upset at the International Olympic Committee. I think they have been rather weak and cowardly in their dealings with China and could have done far more to say to the Chinese government, "We made a bargain; we can go somewhere else," and stick to it. But what do I know? I'm sure there's plenty of blame to go around: to NBC, the major advertisers, journalists, the U.S., the U.N., the athletes, all of us who are excited to watch the Olympics...point your finger anywhere, I'm sure you can find someone who's culpable.

My main hope is that the story doesn't disappear in a puff of Olympic success. And my prayer is for the people of Sudan who are the ones primarily affected by the conflict there.


Anonymous said...

Oh, its been all over the news for months and months, since the beginning of last year (the one year countdown!) or maybe i've kept my eyes out for it... I have been getting google alerts on the topics..

You must have heard of Mia Farrow though? She is the one who was leading the cause celeb and put pressure on Spielberg.

TO give China some credit, they have sent engineers over and made some contributions to the UN efforts. The last UN resolution on China had only one abstaining vote; the US.

qoe said...

Human Rights Watch article, which is old, but goes to show how long China has been doing business in Sudan.

Financial Times article from June:

And from last Oct, another that speaks to China's $300m loan to back the Sudan compensation for Darfur: