Let’s focus briefly on Darfur as an example. For the past five years Sudan has been carrying out a campaign of genocide in Darfur. And yes, it is genocide. Contrary to popular belief, genocide does not mean mass extermination, either industrial, such as the Holocaust or, by hand, such as happened in Rwanda in 1994. It means the intentional destruction of a group. The group here is the civilian population of Darfur, of whom about 300,000 have been killed, or died of hunger or disease, and more than two million displaced from their homes. This campaign is thoroughly planned and executed by the Sudanese government, using its own armed forces and paramilitaries known as the ‘Janjaweed.’ Just as happened in the Holocaust, many of the victims die from the decisions of the ‘desk-murderers,’ in this case the Sudanese officials and ministers who deliberately obstruct relief and medical supplies to the victims.
Meanwhile China bankrolls Sudan, supplies its weapons and military equipment, and keeps the Sudanese economy afloat by buying its oil. The US, and to a lesser extent Britain and France, make a lot of noise about Darfur and the need to stop the killing. Even the Bush administration has talked tough on Darfur. It’s to America’s credit that unlike in Europe, where the left is obsessed with Israel/Palestine to the exclusion of almost everything else, there is a vocal Darfur solidarity movement. But one not powerful enough to actually influence policy.
The west is complicit in the genocide in Darfur. The key to stopping the slaughter in Darfur lies in Beijing as much as Khartoum. Western diplomats would have you believe that China is some great, immovable behemoth, impervious to criticism and incapable of altering her policies. That’s complete nonsense. China has never been as vulnerable: under the human rights spotlight during the preparations for the Olympics, its coming-out on the world stage.
Now is the time for sustained pressure from the United Nations, to get the peacekeepers into the field, to get the relief supplies to those whose lives depend on them. And for sustained pressure on China to stop bankrolling Sudan. Neither of these are happening. Western governments play safe with China because it is the biggest market in the world. We need to sell to China, sure, but China also needs our computers, aircraft and cars. But tragically, there is no political will to even use the leverage that we have.
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