Sudan President Bashir bags goodies on China trip

Friday September 04 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 1, 2015. PHOTO | AFP

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's visit to China may have prompted international uproar, but has yielded several economic deals for his country.

Khartoum news agency Suna quoted Finance minister Badr Aldien Mahmoud as disclosing that the Sudanese delegation had signed more than 10 investment contracts with Chinese companies.

The deals, the minister said, include oil and gas, transport and telecommunication and space technology.

Suna said the the contracts, signed by presidents Bashir and Xi Jinping in the presence of the Chinese companies representatives, will see the latter advance several loans and inject funds into the Sudanese economy.

''We signed many contracts with the Chinese oil companies to expand our production and also prospect for natural gas in Block 8 which is in the middle of Sudan,’’ Mr Mahmooud was quoted as disclosing.

He further pointed out that Beijing and Khartoum signed a ports corporation agreement and an airbus aircraft sales deal.


War crimes

"There is another agreement to build a new free zone in Sudan and many industries,’’ he added.

President Bashir Tuesday attended the Chinese parade commemorating the end of World War II in Beijing in the company of his Chinese counterpart.

Several states and international organisations had expressed their opposition to China hosting the Sudanese leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

Sudan has for years supplied roughly seven per cent of China's oil needs – the equivalent of the former's half daily output – in exchange for financial and military support.

The proposed Chinese investments are expected to lessen the economic crisis that Sudan has endured for two decades, courtesy of the US sanctions.

The US strongly condemned China for hosting President Bashir and called on Beijing to respect its international obligations as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in statement on Tuesday that the ICC request for the arrest President Bashir still stands.

"We believe China, like any member of the Security Council, should weigh its concerns – or weigh the world’s concerns about President Bashir and the fact that he has an active warrant out for his arrest for war crimes,’’ said Mr Turner.

Warrant of arrest

However, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Hula Chunying, downplayed the US concerns, pointing out that Beijing was not a party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

"The people of Africa, including Sudan, made an important contribution in the victory in the World Anti-Fascist War. China’s invite to President Bashir to the commemoration activities is reasonable and fair. While he is in China, we will give him the treatment he should get," Ms Chunying said in a counter statement Wednesday.

Though not a party to the Rome Statute, China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, was party to the decision that referred the Darfur case to the ICC in 2015.

President Bashir’s trips abroad have invariably aroused controversies since the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against him in 2009.

His visit to South Africa last June for an African Union summit turned dramatic when a Pretoria court ordered his arrest.

But the South African authorities shielded him and quickly whisked him away.

His last visit to China in 2011 was also dramatic when his plane skirted the airspace of Turkmenistan.