Chinese weapons being supplied to both sides of Sudan-South Sudan conflict

by WorldTribune Staff, August 29, 2016

Weapons sold by China to its ally Sudan have ended up being used by fighters on both sides of the Sudan-South Sudan conflict, a research group said.

The weapons are said to have been funneled to rebels in South Sudan. Two Chinese peacekeepers were recently killed when a shell hit near the UN refugee camp they were guarding in Juba, the South China Morning Post reported, citing the South Sudan Foreign Ministry.

SPLA-IO fighters. /Reuters
SPLA-IO fighters. /Reuters

The London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) group said that in May it documented “1,300 boxes of ammunition were captured” by the government military, which is still referred to by its civil war-era name, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Government forces captured the ammunition from a rebel faction of the military known as the SPLA in Opposition, or SPLA-IO.

“The ammunition was discovered in northern Unity State, which borders Sudan, and the boxes had been painted to obscure shipping information that showed they originated in China,” said Justine Fleischner, CAR’s South Sudan researcher.

“Despite these efforts, CAR identified that the materiel was part of a 2014 consignment to Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service,” she told IRIN. “The consignment date also suggests that the materiel was very quickly diverted to the SPLA-IO in Unity State, presumably by NISS.”

Beijing is a long-time ally of Sudan but is also invested heavily in South Sudan’s oil sector. China has committed more than 1,000 soldiers to the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.

“China is a close partner to Sudan, while the U.S. has held economic sanctions over Sudan for two decades,” said Luke Patey, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. “But in actuality both China and the U.S. struggle to exert any control over Sudan or South Sudan’s behavior.”

Patey said the discovery of that weaponry was supplied by Sudan to South Sudan rebels would be “particularly egregious as Khartoum has pledged troops to a proposed African Union peacekeeping force” for South Sudan.

“Sudan is playing every card in its hand to ensure it has influence in South Sudan,” said Patey, author of a book about Chinese and Indian oil investments in the countries.