Sudan ambassador: Int'l society should help Darfur people as China has

2008-03-20 06:04:30 Xinhua English

BEIJING, March 20 (Xinhua) -- "The international community should help people in Darfur region in the way the Chinese have," Mirghani Mohamed Salih, Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan to China, told Xinhua on Thursday in an exclusive interview.

Ambassador Salih said that China had provided Sudan with a free donation of 80 million yuan(11.26 million U.S. dollars)for Darfur on infrastructures, bridges, power stations, water supply, schools and hospitals which have provided tangible benefits to people in Darfur regions as well as in other parts of Sudan.

"Sudan's lot is substantially improved since China started investing in the country," said Yao Guimei, a senior research fellow with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who has just come back from a Sudan trip.

Before Sudan started cooperation with China, its economy was largely at a halt. But now Sudan's economy is developing at more than 8 percent annually in recent years, she said.

China provided Sudan with humanitarian assistance of about 11 million U.S. dollars last year, and will provide another 90 million U.S. dollars in soft loans, according to Liu Guijin, Chinese government's special representative for Darfur.

"Recently, the Sudan Government secured finance for some infrastructure, such as schools, hospital and roads projects for Darfur and negotiated with Chinese contractors and suppliers to execute these projects in Darfur," said Ambassador Salih.

He echoed Liu Guijin's earlier statement that the Darfur issue is actually an issue of development.

"The majority of people in Darfur are engaged in farming and animal husbandry, and they had suffered for many years from drought, water shortage and inter-tribe conflicts," said Ambassador Salih, adding that people there had lost herds and lands.

What they need most is infrastructure projects, like dams, roads, water projects and schools, said Ambassador Salih, adding that "the international society should help people in Darfur region in the way the Chinese have."

He highlighted the Neyala Water Supply Project contracted by the China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation (CMEC) and the 600 kilometers of roads in Darfur to be constructed by several Chinese companies.

When asked about the current bilateral economic relations between the countries, he said, "the current economic and trade relations between Sudan and China are excellent. "

Statistics from Chinese customs showed that the bilateral trade volume between the two countries rocketed from 103 million U.S. dollars in 1990 to 3.35 billion U.S. dollars in 2006. The bilateral trade figure surpassed 5.66 billion U.S. dollars in 2007,up 69.1 percent year on year.

"Sudan is now China's third trade partner in Africa, trailing only Angola and South Africa, and China's earliest investment in Africa started in Sudan," he added.

In 2007, China's export volume to Sudan stood at 1.537 billion U.S. dollars in 2007, up 9 percent year on year, with machinery products as the main export item.

China's import from Sudan topped 4.132 billion U.S. dollars, surging 112.6 percent year on year, with oil products, sesame, chrome ore and leather as the main imports.

In recent years, Chinese investment to Sudan has been mutually beneficial and growing to cover many sectors including petroleum, electric power generation and transmission, infrastructure facilities, energy, mining, roads and bridges building, water supply, agricultural development, IT, telecom and so on, according to researcher Yao.

"Chinese companies now don't have any kind of problems doing business in Sudan. They abide by the laws and respect the local people and cultures there," said the ambassador.

He said that some Chinese financial, manufacturing and construction companies joined hands with the Sudanese in constructing gas turbine power stations and thermal stations, transmission lines and dams, including some famous projects like El Gaili Power Station Project, Merowe Dam Project, Khartoum North Power Station Project, which have benefited millions of Sudanese.

He said that bilateral economic cooperation was on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual benefits and was a win-win result.

Ambassador Salih said Sudanese and African leaders also appreciated the Chinese government's effort to solve the Darfur issue in a peaceful way and urged the relevant parties to solve the issue through negotiation.

He held that the two countries had great cooperation potential in agricultural technology, saying that this may become an even more important cooperation area than oil.