Lee pressures China to act on Darfur

lee2.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is co-sponsoring a resolution officially calling on China to use its “unique influence and economic leverage” with Sudan’s government to stop the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region.

“China’s support for the status quo in Sudan and their apparent reluctance to join the international community in condemning the atrocities being committed in Darfur have become critical factors in prolonging the ongoing genocide,” she said in a news release. “This resolution sends a clear message that China needs to join the international community in working to end this genocide.”

The resolution notes China “has long-standing economic and military ties with Sudan and continues to strengthen these ties in spite of the ongoing genocide in Darfur.” For example, China purchases at least 70 percent of Sudan’s oil and has reportedly cancelled about $100 million in debt owed by the Sudanese government. China also recently provided funds for a presidential palace in Sudan at a reported cost of approximately $20 million. And international human rights watchdog Amnesty International recently accused China and Russia of selling weapons to Sudan that are used in violence in Darfur.

The measure calls on China to urge Sudan to allow a United Nations-sanctioned peacekeeping force into the region, and to comply with U.N. resolutions demanding disarmament of militias operating in Darfur. It also calls on China to join the international community in threatening sanctions on the Sudanese government if it continues to carry out or support attacks on innocent civilians or to frustrate diplomatic efforts to end the violence.

This comes as Chinese preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are heavily under way. The resolution recognizes that the spirit of the Olympics is “incompatible with any actions supporting acts of genocide.”

“By hosting the Olympics, China puts itself in the international spotlight and invites questions about their commitment to human rights, particularly with their ongoing support for the government of Sudan, despite its campaign of genocide in Darfur,” Lee said. “To suggest that somehow it is unfair to ask those questions is ridiculous. If China doesn’t like the scrutiny, they can stop tacitly supporting genocide.”

The House resolution is co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; a Senate version has been introduced by Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.