China must stop Enabling Sudan

Bijan Razzaghi

The Government of Sudan has long used aircraft to bomb villages in Darfur, killing thousands of civilians and displacing millions of innocent people. In an attempt to limit Sudan’s ability to continue attacking Darfuris, in 2005 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed an Arms Embargo that prohibits countries from supplying Sudan with weapons. Unfortunately, China has consistently ignored the UN’s directive and its obligation as a member state and has consistently provided bomber planes to the Sudanese government.

In my research as a Policy Intern and Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG), I found that China has recently committed to selling to the government of Sudan six new combat aircraft made at the Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation. The aircraft are of the make and model FTC-2000 and will replace aircraft A-5 and F-7, which have been used in Sudan since the 1990s.

The new FTC-2000s were designed as light trainer-attack aircraft, and have the capability of flying many hours and with more frequency than existing Sudanese aircraft. Such characteristics can enhance Sudan’s ongoing genocidal campaign and are a potential risk for the people of Darfur. These aircraft will enable the Sudanese government to execute more frequent attacks on Darfuri villages, and for longer periods of time.

A delivery date for the airplanes has not been set, but it will likely happen in 2017. The planes will probably be exchanged for Sudan’s most precious natural resource and China’s most pressing need – oil. However, it does not matter how Sudan will pay China for the product. The deal is still a violation of the UN’s Arms Embargo on Sudan.

This is not the first time that China has aided Sudan’s Military and, consequently, contributed to the genocide in Darfur. For this reason, an accountability mechanism must be applied for both perpetrators alike – not only the genocidal government of Sudan but also for its allies. The Chinese government must be held accountable for providing the planes used to attack civilians.