La Chine dans le conflit armé au Sud-Soudan: la stratégie des "Parallèles"
Dimanche 15 janvier 2017
Note de l'Observatoire Chine
Note de l'Observatoire Chine par Obert Hodzi, chercheur à l'Université d'Helsinki.
South Sudan, the newest country in Africa has seemingly become China’s test ground for its foreign policy and security strategies. The complexity of South Sudan’s war of independence and subsequent secession from the Sudan in 2011 tested China’s ability to turn a hostile relationship with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) into a mutually beneficial one. The Juba-Khartoum conflict over oil transit fees resulting in oil production shutdown in 2012 challenged Beijing’s conflict mediation strategies and its ability to coordinate the volatile Beijing-Juba-Khartoum triangular relationship.
In addition, before Chinese oil companies recuperated from the oil production disruptions, a civil war broke out between the South Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - In Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by former vice-president Riek Machar, further challenging China’s foreign policy and security strategies in Africa.
For China, South Sudan assays its long-standing foreign policy principles and development ideologies in Africa -
the non-interference principle and the idea that economic development brings peace and security. But beyond that, it ostensibly unveils the intricacies of Beijing’s foreign policy strategies, especially the efficacy of its non-interference principle when faced with intrastate armed conflicts in Africa. In a space of three years, China’s position in the South Sudanese civil war revolved around strict adherence to its non-interference principle, urging parties in the conflict to seek political solutions, direct mediation and deployment of combat troops under the auspices of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan.
At face value, the shift from one strategy to the other suggests the absence of a coherent strategy, implying that Beijing is being opportunistic, crafting its strategies as it goes. Although it might be the case that Beijing is ‘learning on the job’, its strategy in South Sudan is not linear but rather a deliberately convoluted strategy of ‘parallels’. This article, accordingly, explores this strategy of ‘parallels’ and the implications it may have on Beijing’s future engagement with civil wars in Africa.