South Sudan peace could help cement ties with China: expert
JUBA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's peace prospects could help strengthen China's engagement with the east African country and in turn cement ties between Juba and Beijing, an expert said on Thursday.
James Okuk, senior research fellow at the Center for Strategic Policy Studies, a Juba-based think tank, said Beijing has maintained good relations with South Sudan even when many countries turned their back after the world's youngest nation plunged into a devastating civil war in late 2013.
Though the conflict slowed down economic engagements between the two countries, Okuk said, the recently signed peace deal, if implemented, would enable China and South Sudan to forge stronger ties, especially in the areas of trade, infrastructure, and economic development.
"China has already done some infrastructure projects in South Sudan, and with peace, I think the relation is going to be stronger and more fruitful," Okuk told Xinhua in an interview in Juba.
Since South Sudan's independence in 2011, China has become one of its biggest trading partners, according to official data. Beijing is also one of South Sudan's largest sources of investment.
"When it comes to economic development, they ( the Chinese) are very good. And once peace is holding and the economic situation becomes very good, it will really cement relations between these countries and take it to a higher level," Okuk said.
South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, his former deputy and arch rival Riek Machar, and several opposition groups in September signed a new power-sharing deal aimed at ending the five-year old conflict.