Sudarsan Raghavan and Andrew Higgins
Washington Post

March 24, 2012

JUBA, South Sudan — On the day South Sudan became independent last year, China opened an embassy here, eager to protect its oil interests. It quickly dispatched its foreign minister and began discussing a huge aid package for this destitute land.

Just a few months later, Beijing finds itself trapped in a bitter wrangle between South Sudan and its former rulers in Sudan, with both countries pressing Beijing to take their side.

The dispute has cut off a significant source of oil to fuel China’s booming economy and imperiled billions of dollars in Chinese investments. It has also threatened Beijing’s diplomatic and economic relations with both the countries and strained the boundaries of a long-standing Chinese policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations.

“This new reality has left China uncomfortably stuck in the middle of a tug of war,” said Zach Vertin, a Sudan analyst with the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit think tank. “Both sides have attempted to leverage the Chinese oil interest and draw them in line with their own interests.”

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