Obama meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sudan

Obama prioritizes Sudan at
talks with China

By Shannon Orcutt
On Monday,
President Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao during the Nuclear Summit
in Seoul, South Korea. During the President’s remarks before the meeting, Sudan was
the only country mentioned outside of the context of nuclear proliferation.
Earlier this month, George Clooney asked the President to prioritize
Sudan with China and last week Congressman Jim McGovern sent the President a
letter to the President urging him to work with China to end violence in Sudan.
China has been a key ally of Sudanese government due to its
economic interest and is heavily invested in Sudan’s oil sector. The Chinese
government not only has the unique ability to influence the Sudanese
government, but as a permanent member of the UN Security Council also has the
ability of limiting punitive action against Sudan through its veto power. Since
the split between Sudan and South Sudan, China has attempted to bolster
relations with the South as its economic interests were divided between the two
During the meeting, President Hu stated that both countries have the
common interest of peace and stability in Sudan and that “China and the United
States should continue to exert their own influence encourage Sudan and South
Sudan to resolve their outstanding issues through negotiation.”
Below is the letter from Congressman Jim McGovern to President
Obama on the need to raise the ongoing atrocities in Sudan during his meeting
with President Hu:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Your upcoming meeting with President Hu during the Nuclear
Security Summit in Seoul offers a unique opportunity to work with China to
address the ongoing atrocities being committed against civilians in Sudan. As a
humanitarian disaster in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile
unfolds due to the government of Sudan’s denial of international humanitarian
access and indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilians, there is an urgent
need to work in a concerted way with those like China who have influence with
the government of Sudan.  In particular, I urge you to encourage President
Hu and his government to engage consistently, at the highest levels, and in
close coordination with the United States, on issues related to the
humanitarian crisis and ongoing violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile
states, as well as on all outstanding issues currently under negotiation
between Khartoum and Juba.
As you are aware, the situation in Sudan has escalated
significantly, resulting in devastating consequences for an increasing number
of civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile
are at risk of starvation because the Sudanese government is blocking food and
humanitarian aid. While China has been increasingly involved in oil
negotiations, they must also utilize their influence with the Sudanese
government to end attacks against civilians and support humanitarian access for
aid organizations and United Nations agencies.
I hope that during and following your meeting with President Hu,
the United States and China will work together and lead the U.N. Security
Council to maintain that spotlight towards ensuring an end to atrocities being
committed in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, as well as the negotiation
of key post-independence arrangements, including transitional financial
arrangements – inclusive of oil-related issues – border management, and the
Abyei Area.
The positive engagement of China will be as critical as the
ongoing involvement of the United States to the future of Sudan and South
Sudan. Given its strong economic ties, China holds great diplomatic leverage
when it comes to Sudan and, for China, supporting the establishment of
long-term peace must be seen as critical to their economic interests.
Recent reports by Amnesty International and by the U.N. Panel of
Experts on Sudan included evidence of Chinese made arms used in Sudan. While
China’s arms agreement with Khartoum indicated that weapons provided to the
government are not permitted to be used in Darfur that is clearly still
happening. Therefore, the United States should encourage China to definitively
stop its sale of weapons to the government of Sudan.
I appreciate the commitment your Administration has made towards
promoting peace in Sudan and encourage the United States to maintain its high
level of involvement with international partners to end atrocities against
James P. McGovern

Member of Congress

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