A coalition of Evangelical, mainline Protestant, Jewish and other faith-based leaders called on President Bush this week to take the "historic opportunity to rehabilitate his human rights credentials" by challenging China's President to do his part in ending the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
The letter, drafted by the Save Darfur Coalition and backed by a spectrum of religious figures such as the National Association of Evangelicals' Richard Cizik and Reform Judaism's David Saperstein, highlighted the important role China can play in pressing the Sudanese government to end the violence.
"As Sudan's largest customer for oil, one of its largest suppliers of arms, and one of its staunchest allies on the U.N. Security Council, China is uniquely positioned to press the Sudanese government for real action to halt the carnage in Darfur," stated the letter sent out on the eve of President Bush's visit to China.
According to the Coalition, China imports 60 percent of Sudan's exports, including 40 percent of Sudan's oil - an industry that generates a lucrative $1 billion each year.
Such economic leverage gives China the opportunity to engage with the Sudanese government, the letter stated.
To date, the Sudanese Government and its paramilitary allies have killed at least 180,000 people and driven 2.5 million people from their homes in Darfur.
"It is therefore vital that the U.S. and the international community explore every avenue available to end the violence in Darfur by engaging China," the broad coalition stated. "President Bush should make clear during his visit it is in China's best interest to see a stable and secure Sudan, which cannot exist until Darfur is stabilized and the killing is stopped."