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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 February 2008, 11:56 GMT
China hits back over Olympics row
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Steven Spielberg
China was initially slow to react to Mr Spielberg's resignation
Beijing has gone on the offensive following the resignation of Steven Spielberg as an artistic director to the Olympic Games.

State-run media has criticised the Hollywood director, saying his actions were naive and defied common sense.

At the same time, China has been playing up its own role in bringing peace to Sudan's Darfur region, the issue over which Mr Spielberg resigned.

The director cut his links with the Olympics last week.

He said China was not doing enough to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

A front-page editorial in the overseas edition of the People's Daily newspaper on Wednesday lambasted a "certain Western director".

China hopes for a quick realisation of peace, stability and development for the Sudanese region
Wen Jiabao

"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 to the Beijing Olympics is unfair."

It went on to say that childish vanity lies behind the West's criticism of China's policy on Darfur.

"The Western media has also shown naivety over the Beijing Olympics, and that is childish and ridiculous," it said.

Other newspapers have also carried commentaries laying out China's position with regard to Mr Spielberg's resignation.

'Worked constructively'

China is doing its utmost to convince the West that it is playing a beneficial role in Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died in fighting since 2003.

China's Sudan envoy Liu Guijin greets locals in al-Fashir, Sudan (file photo)
Mr Liu is to speak on China's Sudan role in London on Friday

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spoke to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown about the issue in a telephone call this week.

"China hopes for a quick realisation of peace, stability and development for the Sudanese region and has worked constructively to this end," Premier Wen apparently told Mr Brown.

Liu Guijin, China's special envoy on Darfur, is also due to give a keynote speech in London later this week about his country's role in the region. He will then travel on to Sudan.

China has strong trade and military links with Sudan, which is accused of backing militias that have raped and murdered in Darfur.

Critics say Beijing should use these links to pressure Khartoum on this issue. China says it is already doing all it can.

It points out that it backs a United Nations mechanism to resolve the crisis and has already sent peacekeepers to Darfur.

China's current publicity offensive stands in sharp contrast to its slow response in reacting to the initial news of Mr Spielberg's resignation.

It took Beijing about a day and a half before it gave its first official comment.

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SEE ALSO
China 'not US rival' in Africa
20 Feb 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Prescott warns critics off China
18 Feb 08 |  UK Politics
China 'regrets' Spielberg action
14 Feb 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Spielberg in Darfur snub to China
13 Feb 08 |  Asia-Pacific
China's dilemma over Darfur
13 Feb 08 |  Asia-Pacific

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