ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is calling for an immediate end to all hostilities and violence in South Sudan. On Monday, Wang began a six-day tour of Africa in Ethiopia, where delegations of the fighting South Sudanese factions are due to begin peace talks.
Zhong Jianhua, a Chinese special envoy to Africa, already visited South Sudan in December to push for peace talks. He also is in Ethiopia for the peace negotiations.
Wang said China’s position with regards to the current situation was very clear.
He said that first, they were calling for immediate cessation of all hostilities and violence. Second, he said, political dialogue should start as soon as possible. Third, the international community should make vigorous mediation efforts. And fourth, he said, China called on the international community to provide help and support to South Sudan because of the humanitarian situation.
China has huge interests in South Sudan; it is the largest investor in the country's oil industry. But state-owned oil companies China National Petroleum Corp and Sinopec have had to evacuate some of their workers because of the violence.
The foreign minister is expected to talk to both the government and rebel delegations on Monday in Addis Ababa.
Wang said it was of critical importance for China to support the peace efforts.
He said that China was deeply concerned about the ongoing tumult that hurts the interest of all the people of South Sudan and the prospects of this young country. He said that if the current situation should continue, it would be damaging to the interest of the two conflicting parties and it was not something that the international community wished to see.
Fighting in South Sudan broke out in mid-December, when renegade soldiers attacked an army headquarters. The violence soon took on an ethnic component, with targeted attacks against members of the Dinka and Nuer tribes.
The violence has left more than 1,000 people dead and has displaced an estimated 200,000 from their homes.
Delegations of both sides have been in Addis Ababa since Wednesday, but talks have been delayed as the two factions could not agree on the agenda. It is now expected the talks will start by Monday late afternoon.
The East African bloc IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, is mediating the talks.