02/21/2008, 00.00
CHINA

According to Beijing Spielberg is “naïve” and lacking in “common sense”

Controversy with filmmaker continues after he pulled out of the Olympics in protest against Chinese policy towards Darfur. Government defends its action, concerned that international criticism might grow.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China is fuelling the controversy over movie director Steven Spielberg’s resignation as an artistic director to the Beijing Olympic Games over Beijing’s inadequate response to the Darfur crisis.

An editorial article in the overseas edition of the People's Daily newspaper yesterday called his actions “naïve” that “defied common sense”. It went on to say Western media were being “childish and ridiculous.”

“The Darfur problem was not created by China and is not in any way related to China's policies in Africa,” said the editorial. “Linking the Darfur problem,” where genocide has already killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million people since 2003, “to the Beijing Olympics is unfair.”

It said those who use the issue to criticise China “only acted for their own interest” and were using western standards to judge other countries' policies.

It was confirmed that special envoy Liu Guijin would return to the war-torn African region this month.

During a phone conversation with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown two days ago, Premier Wen Jiabao stressed that Beijing wanted to see stability and peace restored in Darfur.

Human rights activists and organisations chide Beijing for its continued trade with Sudan, for selling weapons to its government which is being boycotted by Western countries for its role in the genocide, and for preventing international sanctions. They believe that Beijing could exert great influence on Khartoum and get greater concessions in favour of the suffering population.

Meanwhile International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said that he held “much respect for Spielberg's decision” but that politics and sport should not mix.

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