Since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, China has made a major effort to improve relations with Juba, which controls about 75 percent of the producing oil wells in the previously united Sudan. China controls a 40 percent share of their combined oil production, built the pipelines and refinery in the North and obtains about 6 percent of its imported oil from the two Sudans.
The International Crisis Group released on 4 April 2012 an extensive analysis of China's relations with South Sudan titled "China's New Courtship in South Sudan." It argues that China's cultivation of new political and economic relations has been most visible in the surge of bilateral exchanges with Juba over the last year, which is expected to be capped in the coming weeks by President Salva Kiir's first visit to Beijing as head of state. He visited previously as unified Sudan's vice president.
Historical ties may be strongest with the West, but Juba has made clear that if the Chinese are first to come and partner in developing the new nation, it will not hesitate to welcome them. The number of Chinese nationals and business persons in Juba has increased dramatically in the nine months since independence. In addition to oil, Chinese companies are interested in infrastructure and South Sudan needs everything: roads, bridges telecommunications, power plants, electricity grids, schools, hospitals, municipal buildings, water treatment plants, dams, irrigation systems, and new oil infrastructure.
The shutdown of the oil fields in South Sudan, abduction of Chinese construction workers in Southern Kordofan across the border in the North and expulsion of the head of a Chinese-led oil consortium have added to Beijing's vexing concerns and generated anxiety among Chinese nationals in the North and South. Beijing has resisted taking sides, as its principal objective remains balanced relations with North and South.
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