China offers cash, material aid to S. Sudan

Updated: 2014-07-02 07:51

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily USA)

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China on Tuesday announced aid of 150 million yuan ($24 million) and material assistance worth 30 million yuan to conflict-torn South Sudan, the world's youngest country.

Premier Li Keqiang announced the decision during his meeting with South Sudanese Vice-President James Wani Igga, who is visiting China.

According to Li, the 30 million yuan in material and humanitarian aid to South Sudan will include 10 million yuan worth of drugs and medical supplies.

When the 50 million yuan in aid that Beijing announced earlier is taken into account, China's cash assistance to South Sudan this year has reached 200 million yuan.

The meeting came as the clock ticks down on the Aug 10 deadline for the warring sides in the East African nation to come to an agreement on an interim transitional government.

Three years after gaining independence from Sudan through a UN-backed referendum, South Sudan is severely challenged by political infighting between President Salva Kiir and former vice-president Riek Machar that turned into a fully fledged conflict in December.

The crisis has uprooted about 1.5 million people and put more than 7 million people at risk of hunger and disease, according to the UN's website.

Violence in South Sudan's civil war, including the execution of scores of hospital patients, is the worst seen for decades and is an "affront to human dignity", the group Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday.

"China expects to see South Sudan realize national reconciliation, security and stability at an early date," Li told Igga.

Beijing appreciates the efforts made by South Sudan's government for peaceful settlement of the domestic crisis, Li said, adding that China expects to continue its constructive role in promoting peace and development of the country.

Igga thanked China for its support of his country, and he vowed to guarantee the security of Chinese enterprises and citizens there.

The Paris-based news website Sudan Tribune said on Saturday that Igga's visit, "although not officially announced, is considered part of the young nation's efforts to strengthen its ties with Beijing".

Igga also met Vice-President Li Yuanchao on Tuesday.

Reuters said in a report in early June that "China is swapping its reserved diplomacy for a hands-on approach" to help solve the crisis in South Sudan.

"A more diplomatically active China could provide a welcome political counterweight for some on the continent, where the West has often been called to act to police the peace," it said.

China has played a unique role in mediating efforts in South Sudan and among major outside powers involved there, China's Special Representative for African Affairs Zhong Jianhua told China Daily earlier.

"African nations like South Sudan view China and its mediation efforts in a completely different light, given that China has never invaded African countries, nor hurt the self-esteem of African people," Zhong said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry confirmed in June that China will send 850 peacekeeping troops to South Sudan.

 China offers cash, material aid to S. Sudan

Premier Li Keqiang meets James Wani Igga, vice-president of South Sudan, in Beijing on Tuesday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

(China Daily USA 07/02/2014 page4)