Sudan and China: Their history goes way way back

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The relationship between Sudan and China is widely believed to be a marriage anointed in oil: China needs it and Sudan has it, and the two have been in business for years. But the Sudanese say their bond with China runs deeper than any oil well and goes back more than 100 years — to a man who proved the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Maj. Gen. Charles Gordon was known as "Chinese" Gordon to his fans — none of whom were even a little Chinese. In the 1860s, Gordon was a star in the firmament of the British armed forces — the go-to guy who made his way to China to help secure Britain's trading rights there.

"Charles Gordon spent some years in China as a British representative during this Imperialistic era," says Maymouna Mirghani Hamza, who teaches history at Nileen University in Khartoum.

Gordon is well known in Sudan, where he headed after making a name for himself among the Chinese. Hamza says Gordon went to great lengths to force British influence in China — apparently at great expense to the Chinese people.

"Maybe he did it in excess," Hamza says.

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