Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir gets Chinese-built presidential palace

28 January 2015

It is exactly 130 years since Gen Charles Gordon was hacked to death on the steps of the governor-general’s palace in Khartoum.

Today, it is China’s turn to make its mark. Gen Gordon’s whitewashed palace still stands on the banks of the Blue Nile and has been home to Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

But the Chinese have just built the president a vast new palace right next door and 26 January was its grand official opening – a date unlikely to be a coincidence.

Concrete diplomacy
In recent years the Chinese have built similar structures in Angola, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Togo.

You could call it soft diplomacy, or perhaps concrete diplomacy. China needs Africa’s mineral wealth and in return, it has been accused of overlooking human rights abuses.

But China’s role in Africa is evolving. It is building shopping malls and railway lines, and sending peacekeepers to South Sudan.

Perhaps a million Chinese citizens now live and work on the African continent.

By Andrew Harding

Read the latest issue

Latest Issue