Only a few years ago, China didn’t seem to care that Sudanese soldiers and mercenaries were massacring thousands of civilians, as long as the oil kept flowing. Indeed, Beijing has often been criticized for disregarding human rights violations in the countries where it does business. But China’s foreign policy appears to be maturing to some extent, at least with regards to the new nation of South Sudan. In a change from its usual policy of disinterest, Beijing is openly condemning the violence and calling on the factions to make peace. Zhong Jianhua, the Chinese government’s special envoy to Africa, informed Reuters that this was a “new chapter” in China’s foreign policy.“China is taking a more active interest,” Deborah Brautigam, the author of The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, told Foreign Policy. “They are trying to figure out just what it means to be a responsible, rising power. Right now, Sudan is kind of the test case for how do you do shuttle diplomacy, how do you do negotiations, how do you try to be a peacekeeper, how do you take on a greater global role.”After the recent massacre at Bentiu in South Sudan, China’s foreign minister publicly stated that China “strongly condemn[s] the killing targeted civilians in South Sudan.” He continued, “We call on relevant parties in South Sudan to resolve their issues by pushing forward political dialogue and achieve reconciliation, peace and development at an early date. We hope to see peace and stability in the country.”China does stand to gain from promoting “peace and stability” in South Sudan. Beijing often finds it difficult to protect its workers in conflict-ridden African countries. More than 35,000 workers had to be evacuated from Libya when civil war broke out there. In South Sudan, two Chinese workers have been abducted by rebel forces. China also buys the vast majority of South Sudan’s oil, which has been flowing less reliably as Sudan and South Sudan battle each other and various rebel groups.Nevertheless, China appears to be more willing to condemn atrocities and keep the peace in Africa, where once Beijing might have shrugged. As Brautigam concludes, “They’ll do it in one place, and experiment, and learn from that.” As Europe and the US discovered before it, China will likely find that the role of global peacekeeper is one of the hardest for a nation to assume.