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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Olympic boycott calls 'will fail'
Girl in Darfur
Thousands have been displaced by fighting in Darfur
China has warned its critics that their attempts to instigate a boycott of the Beijing Olympics over the country's dealings with Sudan will fail.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi criticised the "handful of people" he said were trying to "politicise the Olympics".

Human rights groups and some European and US politicians have called for the 2008 games to be boycotted because China continues to sell arms to Sudan.

The US says Sudan is carrying out a genocide in the Darfur region.

But Mr Yang said a campaign to boycott the Olympics is "against the spirit of the games".

"It also runs against the aspirations of all the people of the world, thus their aims will never be achieved."

'Responsible player'

The foreign minister, who has been in his job for less than a month, defended China's role in Africa.

"On the Darfur issue, the position of the Chinese government is consistent and well known," he told reporters at a press conference, after a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

Yang Jiechi
Mr Yang rounded on China's critics

"We have provided humanitarian assistance and aid to the people of Darfur and will continue to do so in the future."

He said China believed "the political process and the peacekeeping operation should be pursued and promoted in a balanced manner."

"We hope that this issue will be resolved properly through dialogue and negotiation," he went on.

More than 100 US politicians signed a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao last week calling on him to use Beijing's influence to halt the bloodshed in Darfur.

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The letter warned that continued support of the Khartoum regime could tarnish the 2008 Olympics.

The BBC's Dan Griffiths, in Beijing, says China is trying to be seen as a "responsible player" on the world stage, but criticism over Sudan could dent that strategy.

And he says Chinese officials do not want anything to affect the Olympics - so talk of a boycott is the last thing they want to hear.

China was recently accused of breaching a UN embargo by continuing to supply arms to Sudan - a key supplier of its oil.

Although it rejected the claims, Beijing has since appointed a special envoy to focus on the Darfur situation.

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