Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 08:28 UK

Peas star rejects China boycott

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

Will.i.am
The star has recorded with Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake

Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am says the band will play in China, despite calls for artists to boycott the country over its human rights record.

The star called the recent crackdown in Tibet "messed up", but asked whether it was right to "punish a whole country".

"If America really wants to make a difference, it should stop importing China's products and pay back its debt," he added.

Protests against China's foreign policy have overshadowed Olympic preparations.

The Olympic torch relay has been interrupted by protesters in Europe and the US, following China's suppression of demonstrations in Tibet last month.

China has also been criticised for its trade and military links with the Sudanese government, despite the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Will.i.am and Cheryl Cole
Will.i.am's latest single features Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole

The Black Eyed Peas previously played concerts in China in 2006, and are due to return in June this year, Will.i.am told the BBC.

"They have all this Chinese boycott stuff - they want to boycott the games," he said, "but do the people get punished when they have nothing to do with what's going on?"

"If you boycott China, when do they boycott America for what we're doing in Iraq?" he added.

Several high profile celebrities have joined the debate over China's hosting of the Beijing games, which begin in August.

Film director Steven Spielberg withdrew as an artistic adviser in protest at the situation in Darfur, while George Clooney said he was putting pressure on Olympic sponsor Omega Watches, for whom he advertises, to speak out over China's foreign policy.

Will.i.am has also been involved in the US presidential campaign, creating two star-strewn videos in support of Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

The performer, whose real name is William Adams, is currently in the UK to promote his solo single, Heartbreaker, which features Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole.

The song is not officially released until next week, but has already reached the UK top 10 due to download sales of the album version, which does not include Cole's vocals.




SEE ALSO
Stars set Obama speech to music
08 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Triple win for Peas at US awards
22 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Clooney presses Olympic sponsor
11 Mar 08 |  Olympics
Spielberg in Darfur snub to China
13 Feb 08 |  Asia-Pacific

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