China National Petroleum Corp. is one of the main Chinese oil companies working in South Sudan. South Sudan gained control over most of the oil in the region when it secured independence from Sudan in July, though Sudan wields power over the export infrastructure.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir was in Beijing this week amid escalating conflicts between his forces and those from Sudan. The New York Times reports that Kiir was likely trying to get Chinese financing for a pipeline through Kenya to ports along the Indian Ocean.
Li Xinfeng, an African studies scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Beijing would base its decisions more in commercial prospects than political development in South Sudan, the Times said.
Beijing, during meetings with Kiir, pledged support in the form of bank loans and humanitarian assistance but made no mention of oil pipelines, the Times adds.
South and South Sudan are moving closer to war. South Sudanese forces withdrew last week from oil fields across the disputed border after seizing the town of Heglig.
China gets about 3 percent of its oil from the Sudanese region.