Inside Story

China’s motive in South Sudan?

The duty of a responsible world power or protecting its own self-interests?

China may be Africa’s biggest trade partner, but it has generally taken an arms length approach to the continent’s conflicts and domestic difficulties.

China is now committing 700 combat troops to South Sudan to help bring peace to the world’s newest nation. And on Monday, it sent Wang Yi, the foreign minister, to help mediate talks between South Sudan’s warring factions.

China has invested billions of dollars in South Sudan, particularly in its oil production.

However, Yi rejects accusations that China has its own agenda. Speaking during talks across the border in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, he said: “China’s mediation of South Sudan issues is completely the responsibility and duty of a responsible power, and not because of China’s own interests.”

Fighting began in South Sudan in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup.

Oil-producing regions have endured some of the worst violence, with output drastically reduced.

So can China help bring peace to South Sudan? Can it work with both sides? And are there underlying motives for China’s involvement?

Presenter: Nick Clark


Joseph Ochieno – writer for the New African magazine and commentator on African affairs.

Sanusha Naidu – specialist in African international relations and the rise of emerging powers in Africa.