Sunday, April 01, 2007

Calls to use Beijing Games to pressure China on Sudan

Source: CNN.

BEIJING, China (AP) -- China on Thursday blasted separate calls by a French politician and a Hollywood actress to use the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games to pressure Beijing into doing more to stop the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.

In an article published in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow accused Beijing of "bankrolling Darfur's genocide" and called on director Steven Spielberg and four corporate sponsors to "add their ... voices to the growing calls for Chinese action to end the slaughter..."

"We don't think it is appropriate to link the Olympic Games in Beijing with the Darfur issue and we don't think it will be popularly accepted or echoed by people around the world," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

"It is a totally misguided approach for people to link the Darfur issue with the Games and try to tip the balance in their favor in order to enhance their own reputation," he said at a regular press briefing.

China, which buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil and sells it weapons and military aircraft, has opposed sanctions against Sudan.

Beijing, however, urged Sudan earlier this month to follow through on a plan to deploy U.N. peacekeepers to beef up 7,000 African Union troops who have been battling for nearly four years to quell the violence in Darfur.

Farrow wrote:"There is now one thing that China may hold more dear than their unfettered access to Sudanese oil: their successful staging of the 2008 Summer Olympics."

"That desire may provide a lone point of leverage with a country that has otherwise been impervious to all criticism." The editorial was co-authored by Farrow's son, Ronan.

Qin said he did not know who Farrow was and had not read the editorial.

French presidential candidate wants France to boycott Games

Last week, Francois Bayrou, a center-right candidate for France's presidency, proposed that his country's athletes boycott the Beijing Games in an effort to make China lean on Sudan's government.

Qin said he believed people who tried to link the Games with Darfur were unclear about China's policy on Sudan. He said China hopes "efforts by the international community could improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur and that the region could realize a lasting peace and stability."

A permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China has come under increasing international pressure to use its influence with Khartoum to resolve the conflict, which erupted in 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government, accusing it of neglect.

The Sudanese government is accused of unleashing militias known as the janjaweed, which are blamed for the bulk of the conflict's atrocities. More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have fled their homes in the past four years.

"We are confident that we will hold a successful and high quality Olympic Games in Beijing," Qin said.

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