The New Statesman's article on Darfur is disturbing, as it ought to be. It also asks an interesting question: why doesn't China do something about this?
President Omar el-Bashir's government has taken a series of gambles on the indifference of the world to the fate of Darfur's people, and he will continue to do so. At the same time he cannily presents Sudan as an Islamic state that is the victim of imperialist intervention in search of oil. It isn't, and the imperial power chasing oil hardest in Sudan at this moment is communist China.The question grants that the history of Western imperialism makes it impossible, or at least substantially more difficult, for Westerners to stop the slaughter in Darfur. Surely there is some truth to that proposition: it is both that a certain class of people in the West believe imperialism was an unmitigated evil, and distrust their governments enough to think that even a humanitarian intervention is 'all about the oil'; and also that the third world is sensitive to the history and reluctant to accept what might be perceived as a surrender to imperialism.
There is a simple enough response to this charade. The deployment should be made up from Asian, African and Arab states and the regional organisations representing these states should make it clear that the government of Sudan will be completely isolated unless it moves to control the Janjaweed. Equal pressure must be put on states and groups currently supporting the rebels, especially Chad. The role of the west and nations that trade with Sudan - for example, Japan, China and Malaysia - is to bring economic pressure to bear on the Sudanese government and to offer economic incentives.... Western imperialism can be blamed for many things, but there is no imperialist explanation for why African, Asian and Arab states do not act over Darfur. They face no logistical obstacle to establishing a no-fly zone. The problem is one of will, not agency or capability.
That ends up being an excuse not to do anything about the genocide.
Why shouldn't China, though? It aspires to being a rising power, and while it has the power projection capacity to establish a no-fly zone or something similar, it lacks the power projection capacity to assert direct (i.e., imperial) control over Africa. Why do they not?
I think the fellow is right to say it is finally, "Because they don't really care." I think we must admit that the West is no better in this regard -- the Western Imperialism excuse is just that. One can say, "America has bigger things on her mind at the moment" with some justice; but how do you explain Rwanda, then?
I have a suggested solution to the problem. We oppose genocide, in theory; but we lack the will, or interest, to do anything about it in practice. Scroll down to the section on genocide.