The only way to alter China's hand in Darfur
Shame won't work. But enlisting its self-interest can.
China won't be shamed into submission on Darfur."Genocide Olympics" branding is a waste of time that is being paid for with lives. The media loves a good street circus – this month, Jonathan Alter declared the Olympics "the world's last lever" to settle Darfur, as if TV stunts and Olympic ceremonies propel geopolitics.
Khartoum's thugs spur ethnic hatred to incite the militias toward something that looks like genocide. But it's important to understand that what motivates and funds this murderous regime and its weaponry isn't ethnic. It's China's desperate need for energy and the long-term strategic importance of Darfur's oil fields to China's economic growth.
Consider that China owns the largest oil concessions in Darfur. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is financing the slaughter of tribes with claims to the land above Sudan's largest reserves. He eliminates an inconvenient people with weapons and oil money from China, so he can ship more oil to China. On-camera, suppressing a smile, Energy Minister Awad al-Jaz said, "With the Chinese we don't feel any interference in our Sudanese traditions or politics or beliefs.... There is no other business but the business."
That cold context – and the fact that China has invested billions in exploration, production, pipelines, and weapons plants – underscores the implausibility of every option being endorsed by the Western punditariat.