Hu in Sudan: Darfur, Shmarfur

I’ve posted before about China’s lucrative, oil-based partnership with the genocidal government of Sudan– made possible, in large part, by your and my purchases of Chinese-made goods.

Now, in a gesture of contempt for decent worldwide opinion, Chinese leader Hu Jintao has visited Sudan and provided its government with an interest-free loan to build a presidential palace.

Sebastian Mallaby writes in The Washington Post:

Western development aid is increasingly linked to measures of good governance, and investment from Western corporations and banks comes with conditions designed to ensure that ordinary people benefit. This promising advance cannot succeed if African dictators can ignore Western conditions with Chinese assistance.

But then there is an even more disturbing question: What does China’s policy toward Sudan say about the West’s policy toward China? The West is engaging with China on the theory that economic modernization will bring political modernization as well; otherwise, the West would merely be assisting the development of a communist adversary. China’s Sudan policy is an assertion that this link between economic and political modernization is by no means inevitable, even in the extreme case. You can construct oil refineries, educate scientists, build ambitious new railways — and simultaneously pursue a policy of genocide.

I’ve long been a skeptic when it comes to the supposed link between economic and political modernization. And I wonder if this supposed link has simply become an intellectual justification for engaging with a country that has become too economically powerful to ignore– a country holding too many cards when it comes to the West’s economic stability.