NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR QUOTED IN WEEKLY STANDARD REPORT ON CHINESE “MISCHIEF-MAKING” IN AFRICA

July 24, 2008

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, is quoted in an article, appearing in the current (July 28, 2008) issue of the Weekly Standard, on Chinese activities in Africa. The article in the newsmagazine, by Washington, D.C.-based writer Roger Kaplan, notes in part:

Meanwhile, the violence in Darfur, which began with the revolt of Muslim tribes in the western province and led to brutal counterinsurgency campaigns, recently blew back into Khartoum. One of the many Darfuri armed groups sent a motorized column into Sudan’s capital, where it was decimated—quite possibly with direct Chinese help. J. Peter Pham, a professor at James Madison University and a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies who reported last year on the Chinese military association with Sudan,notes that when you provide a regime with $100 million worth of supersonic fighter jets, you must really intend for that regime to survive.

Darfur crisis watchers and activists are well aware that the people they are trying to protect in that disaster zone (a quarter of a million killed, two million displaced) are attacked from the air as well as on the ground. Meanwhile, a congressionally mandated report dated October 2006 had already put at anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 the number of Chinese soldiers in Sudan, lightly disguised as petroleum engineers and construction workers.

Sudan 's complexities, however, are unlikely to becloud China’s keen sense of its own interests. In the Horn of Africa, for example, Pham points out China has sold a billion dollars’ worth of arms to both sides in one of the continent’s many underreported conflicts, the one between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Beijing bet heavily on Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, but if or when the southerners go back to the hills to fight for their independence (and their oil), it may well be with arms supplied by China. Until then, Bashir’s indictment by the International Criminal Court can only strengthen the Chinese hand to the degree it increases the president's diplomatic isolation.

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