With pressure building for a UN deployment in Darfur, Sudan has launched a new military offensive there, according to news reports. This will increase the death toll and seriously undermine humanitarian efforts in Darfur.
As we look at the continuing tragedy that is Darfur, there are many people who are blameworthy. Chief among them is Wang Guangya, China's U.N. ambassador. Wang and China's U.N. modus operandi were profiled by James Traub in Sunday's NY Times magazine:
It’s a truism that the (U.N.) Security Council can function only insofar as the United States lets it. The adage may soon be applied to China as well.
... Wang Guangya, at 56, is a senior member of a new generation of Chinese diplomats vastly more sophisticated and better educated than the party ideologues of old.
... Wang operates by suggestion, by indirection — often by silence. “They play a very skillful game at the U.N.,” says Vanu Gopala Menon, the Singaporean ambassador. “They make their opinions felt without much talking. They never come in first and make a statement. They always listen first and then make a statement which captures the main thrust of what the developing world wants.”
But the game the Chinese play virtually ensures the U.N.’s regular failure in the face of humanitarian crisis. Indeed, the combination of Wang’s deft diplomacy and China’s willingness to defend nations it does business with from allegations of even the grossest abuse has made a mockery of all the pious exclamations of “never again” that came in the wake of the Security Council’s passive response to Rwanda’s genocide in 1994.
The most notorious example of China’s new activism in this regard is Darfur.
While none of the major powers, with the intermittent exception of the United States, have shown any appetite for robust action to protect the people of this Sudanese province from the atrocities visited upon them by the government and its proxy force, known as janjaweed, the Chinese, who buy much of the oil Sudan exports, have appointed themselves Khartoum’s chief protector.