China’s Business and Politics in South Sudan

Letter from Juba

South Sudan's and China's national flags, April 23, 2012. Petar Kujundzic / Reuters

Engineers Luo Minhai, 48, and Sun Xinfa, 44, grew up in Heilongjiang Province, China, but a few months ago, they arrived in Khor Wolyang, a neighborhood in Juba, South Sudan, not far from the barracks of the presidential guard. They are supervising the building of a ten-foot wall for the South Sudanese Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs as it expands its soldiers’ living quarters.

Since the project requires demolishing parts of the neighborhood, however, some residents are less than pleased and have taken it out on the Chinese workers. Neither Luo nor Sun speaks Arabic or more than a few words of English, but no words were needed when a local South Sudanese man barricaded the street that Luo takes to work. Luo simply handed the man 200 South Sudanese pounds, about $6.50, and he was allowed to continue on his way.

“These people don’t like us,” Luo told me as he

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