Photographs are now available from the October 9, 2014 event “The New Kings of Crude: China, Oil, and Civil War in Sudan and South Sudan.” The event featured Luke Patey, Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies and the author of book The New Kings of Crude: China, India, and the Global Struggle for Oil in Sudan and South Sudan. His talk was moderated by Elizabeth Wishnick, Senior Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute of African Studies and the Asia Pacific Affairs Council.
During his talk, Luke Patey detailed China’s regional developments by telling the story of three individuals who were affiliated with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and their roles in shaping the future of Sudanese oil. Patey began with the rise of Zhou Yongkang and how he, a former Politburo Standing Committee member, pushed CNPC into Sudan. Patey then told the story of Su Yongdi, who was the impetus behind CNPC’s oil drilling success in Sudan. Lastly, following years of positive oil output from Sudan, Patey talked about how the local instability led to the kidnapping and death of nine Chinese oilmen, including the death of 20-something year old Cui Leilei.
Through the accounts of these individuals, Patey summarized the CNPC involvement in Sudan that began as a successful oil venture and turned into a political and economic liability. In doing so, he concluded with several points about the topic: Sudan demonstrates that Chinese-African relations are a two-way street where Africa can act as a training ground for China to expand abroad. However, he noted, since Sudan is no longer lucrative, China is expected to withdraw and turn to more stable regions. Additionally, he explained that what happened in Sudan indicates that the government is struggling to adapt to its business counterparts. CNPC’s actions forced the Communist Party to increase its diplomatic presence and find ways to provide security for its citizens, actions that the government had not planned on doing initially; it indicates a limited ability to control events outside of China.