Report: China funding S Sudan govt militia to protect oil fields

China's state oil company is financing a South Sudanese government militia to protect the Unity oil field, a conflict monitoring-group has discovered.

According to a new report by the Swiss research group Small Arms Survey: "The oil fields are defended by 4th Division troops, and a 700-strong militia force run by South Sudan's National Security Service that is recruited from among the Rueng Dinka youth of Pariang county."

"The funds for the milita are provided by the Greater Pioneer Operating Company (GPOC), the consortium that runs the oil fields in Pariang and Rubkona, and in which the China National Petroleum Company has the largest stake," the report continued.

The Small Arms Survey noted that salaries paid to this militia are nearly twice what privates in the regular SPLA earn.

The SPLA has prioritized payment of troops closer to the front lines, the report said, pointing out troops at the El Toor oil fields further from the front lines haven't been paid since June 2014.

China's role in South Sudan's oil industry and military support to the government has come under scrutiny during the ongoing civil war, particularly because the Asian nation is playing a prominent role in the peace talks.

Though only 2% of China's oil consumption comes from South Sudan, China is the largest buyer of South Sudanese oil, and has heavily invested in the country's petroleum sector.

Last year, Chinese arms manufacturer NORINCO sent at least 38 million dollars' worth of weapons to Kiir's SPLA-Juba. Beijing later vowed to halt further arms transfers to Juba.

The full Small Arms Survey report is available for download below.

Photo: AFP