Insecurity blocking deeper China-South Sudan co-operation
9 August 2012
China is set to play a significant role in the future development of the Republic of South Sudan. However, a new briefing by Saferworld shows that continued insecurity - both within South Sudan and in its relations with its northern neighbour - is a substantial obstacle to deeper economic co-operation.
As Laura Barber of the London School of Economics and Yuhua Xiao of Zhejiang Normal University write, “under the present security circumstances, Chinese financial institutions and construction companies are playing a cautious game of ‘wait and see’ in order to keep themselves abreast of investment opportunities while averting potential risks”.
South Sudanese perceptions of China today are still tainted by its role in Sudan’s second civil war. Nonetheless, political relations have improved and there is a widespread belief that China and South Sudan make natural partners: one is a source of energy resources and new markets; the other is a considerable source of financial assistance for development. Indeed a new chapter in co-operation has been heralded by senior officials of both countries.
At the same time, conflict and the threat of conflict is holding back closer ties, while tensions between Khartoum and Juba have thrown up challenges for Chinese policy. But despite greater recognition that business cannot be separated from politics, Steven Kuo of the University of Western Cape writes that “it is unrealistic to expect Beijing to take on a more prominent leadership role in the management of conflict between the two Sudans”.
The three articles in this briefing examine some of these issues in more detail, reflecting the personal views of the authors based on their interviews with Chinese Embassy officials, businesses and workers, South Sudanese Government officials, civil society and academics, international diplomats, and non-governmental organisations in Juba.
For further information contact: Thomas Wheeler, China Programme Project Co-ordinator