The Chinese foreign ministry has announced the appointment of a new special representative to Africa and confirmed plans to send 275 military engineers for UN peacekeeping operations. The move comes just as China is coming under international criticism for its economic and military support of the Sudanese regime. In an open letter to President Hu Jintao earlier this week, 108 US congressmen warned that the 2008 Beijing Olympics could be marred by protests if there was no change in the host nation’s position on Sudan. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu refuted the charges, saying China’s non-confrontational approach to Sudan is yielding results: “We hope to solve the issue by political means, so we are ready to make joint efforts with the international community, including the US.” She said the new special representative on African affairs, Liu Guijin, would focus on solving the Darfur crisis. (The Guardian, May 11)
See also our special report on China in Africa.