|The Chinese Government's Special Representative on the Darfur Issue Holds a Briefing to Chinese and Foreign Journalists|
On the afternoon of July 5, 2007, Ambassador Liu Guijin, the Chinese Government's Special Representative on the Darfur Issue held a briefing to Chinese and foreign journalists and the information officers of foreign embassies to China at the invitation of the International Press Center (IPC). Qin Gang, Deputy Director-General of the Information Department hosted the briefing.
Qin Gang: From June 13 to 24, the Chinese delegation led by Ambassador Liu Guijin, the Chinese Government's Special Representative on the Darfur Issue visited the four African countries of South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, and the headquarters of the African Union (AU) and the League of Arab States (LAS). Today, we are glad to have invited Ambassador Liu Guijin to meet the Chinese and foreign journalists, introducing his visits and answering your questions. Now I'd like to invite Ambassador Liu to speak.
Liu Guijin: Having concluded my visits to the four African countries, I, as the member of the Chinese delegation, attended the ministerial meeting of the contact group on Darfur in Paris and went to Brussels, where I met with the Special Envoy of the European Union (EU) to Darfur and exchanged views with EU's head for African affairs at the EU headquarters. Now I wish to share with you some of my deep impressions and experiences.
Firstly, the position and policy of the Chinese government on the Darfur issue are widely recognized by the international community, particularly African countries, AU and LAS. The African countries all agreed with the basic opinion of China on how to resolve the Darfur issue, that is, seeking for a long-term and ultimate solution to the issue by political means and through consultations and dialogues on an equal footing.
The African countries spoke highly of the positive and constructive role played by China in resolving the Darfur issue and expressed the hope to make concerted efforts together with China to accelerate the resolution of the issue.
Secondly, it is the general agreement of African countries and the wide consensus of the international community that the current three-party mechanism, that is, equal consultations among AU, UN and the Sudanese government, is the main channel, whose role should be continuously played. The day when we were about to visit Sudan, we were informed that the Sudanese government declared the unconditional acceptance of the third phase of Annan Plan through the three-party consultations, that is, the acceptance of the hybrid peacekeeping operation. This is a positive development with the Darfur issue, which was widely recognized and positively commented by the international community including EU.
Thirdly, we, whether EU, AU, LAS or the international community, all have one common goal, that is, the early resolution of the Darfur issue. During my stay in Paris, Torben Brylle, EU Special Representative for Sudan, invited the representatives of concerned countries and organizations to sit down together and have an informal exchange of views. What impressed me is that the colleagues, including the U.S. colleagues, had many common points in resolving the Darfur issue and all advocated resolving the issue by political means rather than military means and believed that as the Sudanese government accepts the hybrid peacekeeping operation, the focus of the international community, or the point upon which we can focus our efforts, should be on promoting the political process, that is, persuading the political parties that haven't signed that Darfur Peace Agreement to come back to the table and have dialogues with the Sudanese government and pulling them back to the political process. Only in this way, can the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region be improved and can ceasefire be achieved in the Darfur region. Moreover, we, the representatives that represent different countries and international organizations, believe that we should commit ourselves to safeguarding a unified Sudan and we don't hope to see a divided Sudan. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sudan should be respected. Through this tour and extensive contacts, I feel that there is still big room for the international community to work on. The resolution of the issue requires the concerted efforts of all concerned parties. The Chinese government will continue to play a positive and constructive role.
Qin Gang: You may ask questions now.
Q: We noticed that Mia Farrow is leading a 'shaming campaign' and claimed the Beijing Olympics as a "Genocide Games". They stressed that their goal was not to boycott the Beijing Olympics, but to force the Chinese government to Change is policies to Sudan. What's the view of the Chinese government on the campaign? Does the series of policy measures taken by the Chinese government relate to such pressure?
A: Just as I have mentioned, the Chinese government played a responsible role in resolving the Darfur issue. We have taken many positive actions. It should be said that obvious results were achieved. The Sudanese government has explicitly declared the unconditional acceptance of the third phase of Annan Plan, that is, hybrid peacekeeping operation. This is attributable to the efforts made by the Chinese government. Of course, there are many reasons that the Sudanese government made such a decision. However one of the main reasons is that the Sudanese government, proceeding from the long-term and fundamental interest of Sudan and the Sudanese people, considers that the acceptance of the Plan is in the interest of Sudan. It also proves that the policy of the Chinese government is correct, which has been echoed by many countries in the world, especially African and developing countries. Since this is a positive and effective policy, which is producing results, why should we change such policy? I myself also heard some noise or inharmonic voice of linking the Olympic Games with the Darfur issue. The voice mainly came from a tiny number of media, NGOs and individuals of the west. Maybe many of them knew little of the efforts made by the Chinese government, but I'm not excluding the fact that a few individuals are still used to looking at what China has done from an ideological perspective and through colored glasses in the cold war era. One of the basic principles of the Olympic Games is to separate politics from sports. It's fiddle-faddle to politicize China's hosting of the Olympics, politicize the Sudan-China relationship and politicize the normal cooperation between China and Sudan. We believe that we can host a high-level Olympics and we have such confidence. The Beijing Olympics will not be affected by this. The governments of major western countries have issued public statements to support the Beijing Olympics. The views of a tiny number of individuals, especially individuals hostile to China indeed, are utterly unreasonable.
Q: China said that China would neither sell weapons to the conflicting countries nor allow the weapons to be sold to the third party. Didn't China consider other factors while selling weapons to Sudan? Will China send peacekeeping force to Sudan? How did China persuade the Sudan government to accept the third phase of Annan Plan?
A: With regard to the sales of weapons, we are very responsible and cautious. The quantity is very limited. The Chinese companies strictly observed the policies made by the Chinese government concerning the sales of weapons. We also abided by the relevant rules of the United Nations and the international rules and systems concerning the sales of weapons while selling weapons to Sudan. China is not a major exporter of weapons. There are many countries in the world, particularly some big countries, which exceeded China both in terms of the quantity and scale of sold weapons.
With regard to how China persuaded Sudan to accept the third phase of Annan Plan, that is, hybrid peacekeeping operation, I'd like to say that we, from the top Chinese leaders to the officials of the foreign ministry, have been trying to take all possible opportunities and channels to work on the concerned parties, especially the Sudanese government in our own way and language. This February, President Hu Jintao visited Sudan and met with President Omar el-Bashir. The Chinese government also invited the Sudanese leaders and ministers to visit China. In recent several months, China has twice dispatched special envoys to Sudan. I myself visited Sudan twice in less than two months' time since I took the position as China's Special Representative on the Darfur Issue. Through the exchanges of views at the meetings and talks with the Sudanese leaders, we explained to Sudan that accepting the third phase complies with the current and long-term interest of Sudan for this Plan is a full-fledged, widely recognized solution, which was most widely agreed by the international community and was reached based upon the tremendous and long-term mediation efforts of AU and concerned countries. I think that the Sudanese government probably has listened to the advice of China. During their latest visit to China, the Sudanese leaders have clearly stated that facts have proved that problems can be resolved by means other than imposing sanctions or exerting pressure. The world is complex and colorful. Why should we always follow the way recognized by some people when we do things? During my meeting with my western colleagues in Paris and Brussels, I gave them an example. When we sit together to dine, our goal is the same, that is, eat the course. The Americans use forks and knives. The Chinese use chop sticks. The Sudanese use hands. When we finish the course, our goal is fulfilled. Why do we have to use hard stuffs? Why do we have to use forks and knives? Can we use something softer? Why can't we use our wisdom and make joint efforts to achieve better results? Our goal is to resolve problems, realize lasting stability and durable peace, and make the countries neighboring Sudan unaffected by the war in Sudan. Our goal is not to complicate the issue. In this regard, the interest of China, Africa and Sudan is consistent.
Talking of dispatching peacekeeping force, I'd like to say that the Chinese government has promised to dispatch a multi-function engineering unit consisting of 275 persons to the Darfur region in support of the second phase of Annan Plan, which has been recognized by UN and the Sudanese government. We are making active preparations for this. We will dispatch the force as early as possible according to the requirements of UN. The source of soldiers for the implementation of the third phase of Annan Plan mainly comes from African countries. Other countries can only step in when African countries do not have sufficient source of soldiers. The deployment of the peacekeeping forces in the third phase takes longer time, about half a year or more. The first phase of Annan Plan, that is, the light support plan, just concluded. But according to the Sudanese government, only 70% to 80% of the light support plan was completed. The second phase, that is, the heavy support plan, just started, or we can say it was not started substantially. The third phase will be implemented when the heavy support plan is completed at the end of the year. At that time, if the Chinese government is required to provide peacekeeping force, we will sincerely consider that. It's still too early to talk about it. But one thing is certain, the Chinese government is positive toward anything that is helpful for the peace in Sudan and the long-term and ultimate resolution of the Darfur issue.
Q: Will the Chinese government take other measures after the Sudanese government unconditionally accepts the third phase of Annan Plan? What goals does China wish to achieve through these measures?
A: First of all, when the Sudanese government accepts the third phase of Annan Plan, that is, hybrid peacekeeping operation, the United Nations should pass a resolution as soon as possible, recognizing the hybrid peacekeeping operation. Only when UN offers essential funds, can African countries dispatch the peacekeeping force and police. The Chinese government is willing to work together with concerned countries, the UN Security Council in particular, for the joint implementation of peacekeeping operation.
Secondly, the international community still faces another important issue when the hybrid peacekeeping operation succeeds, that is, intensifying efforts to promote the political process in the Darfur region. Up to now, excluding the Sudanese government, there are only two political parties that have signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. It is said that there are 19 political parties in Darfur. We need to make these political parties sit down together and listen to their opinions on the Darfur Peace Agreement. The Sudanese government expressed the willingness for peace talks, Salim Ahmed Salim, Coordinator of the African Union (AU) to Sudan, and Jan Eliasson, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy, jointly put forward a roadmap, which was widely recognized by the AU Secretariat, the UN Secretariat, and the international community. According to the roadmap, June and July are a period for comments. The second phase of the roadmap, the so-called pre-negotiations, starts in July. In August, the substantial negotiations shall start. Salim and Eliasson have invited China to attend the second international conference on the Darfur issue in Tripoli, which will review new progresses on the Darfur issue in recent two months and discuss the next-step work. During the meeting with Mr. Eliasson in Paris, he told me that Mr. Salim and he himself would urge the political parties that haven't signed the Darfur Peace Agreement to come to Libya and attend the conference in a certain manner. We should pay attention to both tracks in the current two-track approach, that is, executing peacekeeping operation and at the same time promoting political process. In the past, we gave too much attention to peacekeeping operation. Now, we should pay equal attention to the political process. Only by walking with two legs, can we walk steadily. Moreover, to resolve the Sudanese issue and fulfill the goal of realizing smooth and sustained peacekeeping operation in Sudan, the international community and the Sudanese government should establish the most basic mutual trust. Sudan and western countries often accused of each other. These accuses are almost the same. Both sides accused of the other for not keeping faith. When the Sudanese government agreed to accept the hybrid peacekeeping operation, the voice from the west was almost suspicion. Now, we can hear some rational voice from the west. They think such move should be welcomed. I feel this is a step forward toward the right direction. We face tough challenges with regard to the Darfur issue for there is still a humanitarian crisis in Darfur and ceasefire in a real sense is not achieved. Some anti-government forces are still attacking camps and there are still casualties. The Chinese government is taking a positive attitude to work with the international community for an early settlement of the issue.
Q: You just said that western countries are willing to give up sanctions. Can you confirm whether U.S. President Bush is also willing to give up sanctions? If yes, how did you persuade them?
A: I myself never said that western countries agreed to give up sanctions. I'm only saying that during my contacts with Andrew S. Natsios, President Bush's Special Envoy for Sudan, Torben Brylle, EU Special Representative for Sudan, and Jan Eliasson, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy, we all advocated the political settlement of the issue. Although EU and U.S. thought that sanctions, as a way to exert pressure, should not be easily given up, EU pointed out that it's not time to talk of sanctions, more opportunities should be given o peace and more time should be left to AU. U.S. supports the political settlement of the Darfur issue and is willing to participate in this process.
Q: You just mentioned Tripoli Conference. It is the second conference this year. Is it an institutionalized conference? Besides China, what are other countries that have confirmed their participation in this conference?
A: Tripoli Conference is called by my colleagues as Tripoli Model. Mr. Eliasson and EU colleagues consider it a good mechanism, a realistic and effective mechanism. The first conference was held from April 27 to 28. China sent representatives for that conference. The second conference will be held from July 15 to 16. The conference has extended invitation to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the countries neighboring Sudan, especially Chad, Central Africa, Eritrea and Egypt, UN, AU, LAS and EU. Moreover, Mr. Eliasson wishes to mobilize some of the rebel parties to attend the conference. I don't know whether he could succeed. The conference features wide representation, particularly the participation of AU and the Sudanese government. Therefore, Tripoli Conference is more than talks. It may help resolve some problems. I myself will attend the meeting next weekends.
There are several mechanisms for the Darfur issue, which are not conflicting with each other. The most important mechanism is the three-party consultation mechanism among AU, UN and the Sudanese government. We think that this is a main channel, which should be supported by the international community. Another is the Tripoli mechanism, which mainly focuses on promoting the political process in Sudan. The Chinese government is positive toward any effort aiming at the proper settlement of the Darfur issue.
Q: How can the Chinese government guarantee that the arms sales to Sudan will not fall into the hands of rebel forces?
A: The Chinese government sincerely hopes that the Darfur issue can be resolved smoothly and breakthroughs can be made with the political process. China is only one party and a small party among many others that sell weapons to Sudan. The quantity of exported weapons to Sudan was limited and the Chinese government strictly observed international rules. We will strive to prevent these weapons from flowing into places where they should be and from playing an adverse role. The international community including the media should view this issue from an objective perspective.
Q: Does China believe that the AU forces themselves suffice for the implementation of the third phase of Annan Plan?
A: UN and AU have made clarification on some issues during the three-party dialogue in Addis Ababa from June 11 to 12. The clarification has satisfied the concerns of Sudan and eliminated some of the suspicions of Sudan and AU. According to the Joint Communiqué based upon the consultations of the three parties and the Addis Ababa Consensus reached on July 16, 2006, the Sudanese government declared the acceptance of the third phase of Annan Plan, which has a unique African feature. Priority was given to the forces of African countries. If the African forces cannot meet the UN needs, consideration will be given to countries in other regions. Any country that wishes to dispatch forces needs to first seek for the opinions of the Sudanese government.
One more point. If we don't pay attention to the reconstruction and economic rejuvenation of the Darfur region from right now, it will be hard to maintain lasing peace even if the concerned parties could reach a peace agreement. Some western specialists and NGOs think that the root causes of the Darfur issue are poverty, underdevelopment and scramble for scarce resources for living such as water, land, and livestock. We should take into consideration such factors as enabling the reconstruction and long-term development of Sudan and making the homeless ones return to homes, while executing the peacekeeping operation and providing humanitarian assistance to Sudan. For this very reason, the Chinese company participated in the water supply project in Darfur and offered mobile clapboard houses as classrooms for students. Recently we also sent a team of agricultural experts to build up a demo center for agricultural technologies in a bid to assist Sudan's agricultural development. There is still 79% of the arable land in Sudan that hasn't been utilized. Peacekeeping is of course important. The international community should spend tremendous efforts on peacekeeping and it's worthwhile. If there is no peace, there will be no development and reconstruction. But in the meanwhile we should advance the political process with a view to the reconstruction and development in the Darfur region.
Q: Did China mention to AU and African countries that China will offer more assistance to Africa so as to enable China to play a more important role in the third phase of Annan Plan?
A: I met with the Chairman of the African Union in Addis Ababa during my trip to Africa. Our discussions concerning the Darfur issue focused more upon on some of the urgent issues faced by Darfur, including the hybrid peacekeeping operation and the cooperation between China and AU on the Darfur issue. We offered a certain amount of assistance to the AU special delegation. In the future, we will consider offering more help based upon the actual needs. Since this February, there have been 3 Chinese leaders visiting Africa. They are President Hu Jintao, NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo, and CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin. One of the important goals of their visits is to implement the 8 commitments in support of Africa's development announced by China in Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation last November and pass the benefits into the hands of the African people. The 8 commitments include exemption of debts, further opening of the Chinese market, establishment of agricultural demo centers, establishment of malaria prevention and treatment centers, offering more official development aids, more HR training, etc. China will make our contributions to the peace and development of Africa in our power.
Qin Gang: Thank you, Ambassador Liu for your comprehensive and detailed introduction. Thank you, the media friends for attending today's briefing. Thank you again.