The Case of Sudan: How the West Lost, and China Gained Influence

Peter Christian Bang

Student thesis: Master thesis


Since the Revolution of National Salvation in Sudan in 1989, Sino-Sudanese relations have developed and China is today one of Sudan’s closest allies throughout the international society. However, recent years have showed that China’s presence in Sudan and other African countries is not unilaterally positive. It has been confirmed that Chinese designed and manufactured arms have been used in the genocide in Darfur, circumventing the UN embargo. This thesis offers a historical explanation for the emergence of Sino-Sudanese relations. It also offers an explanation for the inability of Western Sanctions to prevent genocide and human rights violations in Darfur. Using the English School of International Relations, this thesis will argue that the China’s influential emerge has been a result of domestic and foreign factors. Sudan suffered from internal conflict already before obtaining independence in 1956. This thesis will argue that internal unrest has determined the leadership in Khartoum and been central for Sudan’s turn towards China. While internal conflict is central for understanding Sudan’s foreign policy. This thesis will show that internal conflicts have also been influenced by, initially Western and subsequently, Chinese involvement in Sudan. Lastly, it will be argued that Western values, with regard to human rights, have caused the international society to adopt an unconditional approach towards al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum. This approach has not only been ineffectual in preventing arms from entering Darfur. It has failed to facilitate peace in Sudan and it has also pushed al-Bashir away from the West. As such, this thesis will argue that foreign policy can be explained through interplay between countries as rational and socialised actors.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages92