02/14/2008, 00.00
CHINA

State media claim Chinese “disgusted” by Spielberg’s boycott

For the Chinese Embassy in Washington, tying China to the Darfur issue is “unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair.” IOC President Jacques Rogge signs Nobel Prize laureates’ appeal in favour of Darfur. Chinese activists call for greater respect for human rights at home.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – There has been no official reaction so far to filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s decision to boycott the Beijing Olympics and refuse the role of advisor on the Games opening and closing ceremonies. Only a tabloid, the Global Times, published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, accused the West of using the Olympics to put pressure on China, a move which has “disgusted” the Chinese people. Even Chinese citizens who complain about losing their homes to the Olympics Games opposed Western pressure, the paper said.

With patriotic emphasis, the paper claimed that for the “vast majority of Chinese people [. . .] it's absolutely absurd to place the Darfur issue, so many thousands of miles away, on the head of China.”

Spielberg decided against playing any role in the Games after his efforts to put pressure on Beijing’s leadership in favour of Darfur proved fruitless.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington, whilst not directly referring to Spielberg's decision, called on “relevant parties” to respect the facts about the “positive role played by China on the Darfur issue.”

As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China, nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair for certain organisations and individuals to link the two as one,” the embassy said.

China is Sudan’s main trading partner and an important weapons supplier.

In the African country government-backed militias, the Janjaweed, are responsible for the death of some 200,000 people and 2.5 million refugees.

Jacques Rogge, head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), signed yesterday an appeal by Nobel Prizes to China to do more to end the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

So far the IOC has had a neutral stance on the matter.

Many Chinese and international figures have for their part insisted less on the Darfur affair than on better human rights protection during the Olympics in China itself (See Beijing 2008: intellectuals and activists publish letter on Olympic Games and human rights).

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