China has rejected U.S. plans for more sanctions against Sudan and has called for more patience to resolve the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region. China also defended its investments in Sudan as helping to bring about peace. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.
China's chief diplomat on African affairs, Liu Guijin, says new pressure or sanctions against Khartoum for its actions in Darfur would only complicate the conflict and make it more difficult to resolve.
President Bush has announced sanctions against Sudanese companies and officials to try to stop the killing in Darfur, which the United States has called genocide against ethnic minority groups.
The United States, along with Britain, is also considering drafting a U.N. resolution that would increase the number of Sudanese officials subject to sanctions and extend an arms embargo to all of Sudan instead of just Darfur.
Liu, who returned to Beijing last week after a five-day trip to Sudan and Darfur, questioned the need for new sanctions. He said the Sudanese government has recently shown signs of flexibility and is willing to hold talks with rebel groups.
"In this situation, why can't the international community give the peaceful resolution of Sudan's Darfur issue a little more time? Why can't they give the resolution a few more opportunities? Why can't they use a little more patience?" Liu asks.
Sudan has agreed to a U.N. plan to bring thousands of peacekeepers into Darfur to aid overwhelmed African Union forces already there. But, Khartoum has stalled on letting the peacekeepers in.
China is a major buyer of Khartoum's oil and it supplies arms to the country. Beijing has been accused of ignoring the bloodshed and protecting Khartoum against U.N. sanctions to maintain access to Sudan's oil.
Liu defended Beijing's investments in Sudan's oil industry. He said poverty and lack of resources were the major causes of conflict in Sudan and the Chinese investments would lead to peace.
"China and Sudan oil cooperation is beneficial in helping Sudan's economic development and is fundamentally beneficial in resolving Sudan's wars and conflicts," Liu says.
The Sudanese government has been accused of backing militias responsible for mass killings and rapes among ethnic-minority communities in Darfur.
The United Nations estimates 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million run out of their homes in the four years of conflict.