China boost for Sudan military
China has offered to expand military co-operation with Sudan, although tempering its support by calling for Khartoum to be more flexible on a United Nations plan to end fighting in the African nation's western region of Darfur.
The mixed signals from Beijing reflect a desire to maintain close relations with the Sudanese government, despite western allegations that such moves stand in the way of international efforts to broker a peace deal.
In a meeting in Beijing, Cao Gangchuan, Chinese defence minister, told Haj Ahmed El Gaili, Sudan's joint chief of staff, that military relations had been “developing smoothly”. The Chinese side set great store by the traditional Sino-Sudanese friendship, state media quoted Mr Cao as saying. “[We] are willing to further develop military co-operation between our two countries in all areas.”
Beijing's willingness to support Sudan’s military is likely to anger international pressure groups who accuse Khartoum and the militias it supports of massive violations of human rights, particularly in Darfur. The conflict there is estimated to have left some 200,000 people dead and more than 2m homeless.....
However, Beijing has appeared to be growing more willing to nudge Khartoum toward compromise with rebel groups in order to resolve the Darfur crisis.
China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had raised the issue of Darfur during the eight-day visit by senior Sudanese military leaders. Qin Gang, a ministry spokesman, said Beijing hoped Khartoum would “show more flexibility” in responding to a peace proposal put forward by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general.
Font Financial Times