China Takes Credit for Sudan Allowing UN Peacekeepers

China's special representative on Darfur says the Chinese government's dialogue with Sudan was key to Khartoum agreeing to allow United Nations peacekeepers into the conflict-ridden Darfur region. As Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, China has become more active in trying to resolve the Darfur conflict after facing criticism for putting economic concerns above human rights.

China's special envoy on Darfur Liu Guijin said Thursday that Sudan's agreement last month to allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur "could not be separated" from the Chinese government's efforts on the issue.

"From the highest leader in China to relevant foreign ministry officials, we have always used our method of using our words and made use of every opportunity and channel in every aspect of work, especially with the Sudanese government," said Liu.

Khartoum for months dragged its feet on a U.N. plan to allow thousands of peacekeepers into Darfur to relieve overwhelmed African Union forces. Last month it finally signed approval for a hybrid force of AU and U.N. troops.

Liu visited Sudan and other African nations last month. He says the deployment will begin, at the earliest, at the end of this year, pending Khartoum's agreement on a date.

China has resisted sanctions against the African nation despite accusations Khartoum has supported militias responsible for mass killings and rape in Darfur that Washington has called "genocide."

President Bush has taken a "wait and see" attitude to Sudan's agreement to the U.N. deployment.

Liu says western nations should stop doubting Sudan's intentions and be more welcoming of the steps forward.

He compares Khartoum to a naughty child who needs to be rewarded for good behavior.

"It's just like a child. If you judge him to be a bad child, when he does something good you should give him a little encouragement and say some nice things," said Liu.

Human rights organizations say China, which buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports and sells arms to Khartoum, is more interested in money than in human rights, an accusation Beijing denies.

Liu says China was doing its best to ensure weapons sold to Khartoum did not end up in the wrong hands.

He says attempts to politicize Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Olympics by linking it to the Darfur situation could only be due to ignorance of China's efforts to resolve the conflict or from people maintaining a "Cold War" ideology.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and two million made homeless since 2003 when rebels and government forces began fighting in Darfur.