Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Beijing slams rebel threats to its Darfur peacekeeping force

AP , BEIJING

China yesterday rejected threats made by a Sudanese rebel group against its peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

China "could not tolerate criticism from any party for its participation in peacekeeping missions in the Darfur region of Sudan and opposes any public threat made against the security of its peacekeepers there," Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) as saying.

The Darfur rebel group Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement has said it considers Chinese troops targets because Beijing supplies military and economic support to the Sudanese government.

Over the weekend, China began deploying a 315-member engineering, well-digging and medical contingent to Darfur to prepare for the arrival of the proposed 26,000-strong hybrid African Union-UN peacekeeping force likely early next year.

The joint force is to take over from a beleaguered 7,000-member African Union mission, although Sudan has yet to approve a list of contributing countries, and participating states have so far failed to contribute helicopters and other vital equipment.

The Justice and Equality Movement, which was boycotting peace talks, claims the Chinese force was only sent to Sudan to protect Beijing's investments in the country's oil industry.

In its latest attempt to broaden the battle beyond the western Darfur region, the movement attacked the Chinese-run Defra oil field in neighboring Kordofan region last month, inflicting losses to the Sudanese army and abducting two foreign workers.

Darfur rebels, along with many international rights activists, accuse China of indirectly funding Khartoum's war effort in Darfur by investing in Sudanese oil.

Also See: Beijing's `see no evil' diplomacy must cease

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