Monday June 1, 2020


April 24, 2012

On Tuesday, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing, amid escalating tensions between South Sudan and its northern neighbor. During Kiir’s visit to Beijing, technical agreements for economic cooperation were signed and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and Kiir attended the opening ceremony of South Sudan’s new embassy in Beijing.

In the aftermath of Sudan’s provocative bombing of a border town on Monday and continuing skirmishes between the two neighbors, there have also been hopes that China might be able to play a greater role in mediating the differences between the two.

In earlier comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson about President Kiir’s first visit to China as head of state, the visit was described as an opportunity, and that China “will continue to play its constructive role on the issues between the South and the North.” The safety of Chinese nationals and the ability to account for all individuals and organizations in the region has also been a first priority.

China has said it hopes the two Sudans will seek a resolution of their disputes through negotiation and diplomacy and has already called for restraint from both sides. Obviously, there is a considerable stake here for China and a strong desire to see stability return to the region. “Chinese oil companies and their partners have major projects in both Sudan and South Sudan. Their legitimate rights and interests deserve substantial protection,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a recent press conference.

A South Sudanese official, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting between Hu and Kiir, said that South Sudan had interest in building its own pipeline that would cross Kenya and reach the port of Mombassa or Lamu. Gum Bol Noah, deputy chief of protocol for South Sudan, said that the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. had expressed its willingness to lend technical support to South Sudan on constructing the pipeline and oil refinery; however, it was waiting for the conflict with Sudan to cool before proceeding with talks.

South Sudan had withdrawn its troops recently from the contested oil rich region of Heglig, only to be met with the Monday bombing that has been attributed to the Sudanese air force and which senior South Sudanese military officials have said amounts to “a declaration of war.”

“We will not negotiate with the South’s government, because they don’t understand anything but the language of the gun and ammunition,” Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reportedly told Sudanese troops while visiting Heglig.

China is the biggest buyer of crude oil from South Sudan, while Sudan is China’s seventh-largest supplier of crude oil before shipments fell this year due to disputes between Sudan and South Sudan over oil revenue and border regions. China formally recognized the government of South Sudan in July 2011 when it declared independence from Sudan.


For further commentary on China-South Sudan relations, please see the following news sources and commentary:

Wall Street Journal – “South Sudan Seeks Oil-Sector Help from China


Voice of America“China Calls for Calm Between Sudans”

Xinhua – “China urges Sudan, South Sudan to protect interests of Chinese oil companies”

Xinhua – “China continues efforts to ease tensions between Sudan, South Sudan”

CNN – “Can China end conflict in the Sudans?”


For Chinese commentary on China-South Sudan relations, please see the following news sources:


Global Times 环球时报 – “中方投资油田在南北苏丹战争中遭严重破坏

Xinhua 新华 – “胡锦涛在人民大会堂同苏丹总统基尔举行会谈”


Compiled and edited by Katie Xiao.