China's special envoy to Darfur has defended criticism that his country is not exerting its influence enough to stop the violence in the Sudanese region, saying China is making very concrete contributions to peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts there. From U.N. headquarters, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
Liu Guijin told reporters Tuesday that China has from the beginning supported United Nations and African Union efforts at resolving the crisis in the Darfur region.
He pointed to China's involvement in peacekeeping operations in seven African countries, totaling 1,400 troops. In southern Sudan, he says there are more than 400 U.N. peacekeepers from China. In addition, he says Beijing has also already contributed more than $10 million in humanitarian assistance to Darfur.
Ambassador Liu said Chinese peacekeepers would begin deploying in October to the Darfur region as part of the new hybrid U.N.-African Union force. That force will be comprised of some 20,000 soldiers and 6,000 police - one of the biggest missions ever launched by the United Nations.
China sells arms to Sudan and is heavily invested in its oil industry. Some critics argue that Beijing has not leveraged that influence to press Khartoum to end the violence. Speaking through an interpreter, Ambassador Liu says such criticism is unfair.
"In terms of the hybrid peacekeeping operation and the political process, the Chinese side has also made huge efforts - particularly on the hybrid peacekeeping operation. The Chinese side has utilized all kinds of channels and talked to the Sudanese government and persuaded them as an equal partner to accept the Annan three-phased plan," he said.
The Chinese government has also come under fire from human rights activists who have called for a boycott of next year's Olympic games in Beijing, saying China is not doing enough to stop the killing in Darfur. Ambassador Liu says he met with Darfur activists in Washington last week and told them that the spirit of the games is non-political.
"We staunchly oppose the linkage between the Olympic games and the Darfur issue. But, at the same time, we are not afraid that some people might try to link these two events because they will never be able to achieve [that]. We're very confident we'll have a very good and a very high level Olympic games," he said.
The Chinese envoy says settlement of the Darfur issue is like a car - it needs to move on four wheels. In this case: peacekeeping operations; the political process; the improvement of the humanitarian situation; and development and reconstruction. He says if the international community can move forward on these four wheels a long-term solution for Darfur will be achievable.