Beijing Olympics

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Spielberg Quits '08 Olympics in Darfur Protest

February 14, 2008 12:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Steven Spielberg has resigned as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics because of China’s inaction in Darfur. Beijing says the director has “ulterior motives.”

30-Second Summary

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In a press conference late Tuesday, Spielberg told reporters that because of China's strong economic and military ties to Sudan, Beijing has an obligation to help end the violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

“Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more,” the director said.

China holds sway over Khartoum because it is the leading importer of Sudanese oil, and state-owned China National owns oil reserves and pipelines in Sudan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters that Spielberg’s decision was misguided. He said, “I am afraid that some people may have ulterior motives, and this we cannot accept.”

Beijing’s reaction reveals how important the success of the Olympics is for the Chinese government. According to Inter Press Service writer Antoaneta Bezlova, “Chinese leaders regard the games as a symbolic endorsement of their country’s growing global clout,” and Spielberg’s move tarnishes the image Beijing is trying to project.

The director’s protest comes at a time of increased fighting in Darfur’s western region, with recent months seeing the conflict spill over into Chad.

Headline Link: ‘Spielberg in Darfur Snub to China’

Background: ‘Is China Undermining Human Rights Efforts in Burma and Sudan?’

Reactions: ‘Ulterior motives’

Historical Context: Sudan and the Darfur conflict

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Spielburgian Snub: Blow To Cultivated Image’

Key Players: The people, the SPLM and the African Union

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