01/31/2012, 00.00
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Chinese officials in Sudan, to negotiate release of workers held by rebels

29 workers held hostage by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N). Sudanese media had announced the release, later denied by the militias. Spokesman assures that they are "in good health". The strategic interests of China in the area and the struggle for oil with the U.S..
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Beijing has sent a team of officials to Sudan, to negotiate the release of 29 workers in the hands of rebels in Southern Kordofan "as soon as possible", say Chinese Foreign Ministry sources, confirming the government's intentions to resolve the matter. The workers were kidnapped on January 28 last by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Sudanese state media had announced the release of 14 workers, but the spokesman for the rebels denied the news dismissing it as "a lie ".

Liu Weimin, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, says that "the Chinese side urges all parties involved to exercise calm and restraint." The group of experts sent from Beijing overnight will try to mediate the release of the hostages. Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, spokesman for the Sudanese rebels, confirms that they are "in good health" and that they will be released "as soon as the security situation allows."

Meanwhile, the Chinese company has sent another 34 workers on site, who have already arrived in Khartoum. The group consists of 17 employees of Chinese nationality, who worked at the camp near the town of Al-Abbasiya scene of the attack of the rebels. Commenting on the story the Chinese ambassador to Sudan Xiaoguang Luo pointed out that "it is an isolated incident" and "does not undermine bilateral relations" between Beijing and Khartoum.

China is Sudan’s largest trading partner, despite an international embargo, and has been accused of selling weapons used in the civil war. About 80% of 480 barrels of oil extracted daily from the China National Petroleum Corp. (which receives about 60%), Petroliam Nasional Bhd from Malaysia. and the Indian Oil & Natural Gas Corp lies in South Sudan.

Beijing justifies its relations with dictatorial governments with the doctrine of "non-interference" in internal affairs of other countries, even in opposition to Western interventionism accused of "colonialism." But China has large interests in Sudan: CNPC built the 1,500 km pipeline that brings oil from the South to Port Sudan, Chinese companies have built roads, entire neighbourhoods, services. According to some analysts this presence is envied by the United States, willing to contend Beijing for supremacy in the area.

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See also
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Sudan: anti-government rebels abduct nine Chinese oil workers
Beijing gets directly involved in negotiations for the release of kidnapped Chinese workers
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