Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spielberg withdraws support of China Olympics


Drawing the world together or splitting it apart?

US film director Steven Spielberg has withdrawn his support from China’s 2008 Olympic Games. He had played a key role as artistic adviser for the upcoming event. The news item topped the BBC News today running a close second on Sky News. Spielberg withdrew his role in protest of China’s role in Darfur. Since April last year he had attempted to meet with the Chinese President but had failed to achieve any discussions with the leader. Not having signed a contract it was easier for him to pullout. Peter Sharp, Sky’s correspondent in Beijing, said the decision would not have a major effect but if the campaign influenced the big sponsors to pullout, then Beijing would be worried.

The director has said the “unspeakable crimes” in Darfur needed to be ended. It is believed the Hollywood film director had been under increasing pressure from others in the US in making his decision. Mia Farrow has already added her voice to the calls to boycott what she has called the ‘Genocide Olympics’ [miafarrow.org]. Annie Yang, a Chinese torture victim, told Sky News she also called for a boycott. But not everyone was so vocal against the Chinese regime. Andy Burnham MP, the Culture, Media & Sports Secretary, said problems with China should be worked out more diplomatically. Edward McMillan-Scott, conservative politician and MEP, has criticised the Beijing authorities for not doing enough in Sudan and for their dubious roles in countries like Zimbabwe.

Many other countries could also do more in Darfur, so says Professor Stephen Chan, an expert in Chinese and African studies. He agreed that China was “empire building with unsavoury regimes”, as was put to him by the Sky anchor, but said that many other nations were also doing similar things. Other countries also needed to put greater efforts into the peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, of which China were a part, he said.

CNN described the pullout by Spielberg as being “big trouble for Beijing”. John Vause speaking from Beijing said, although the news would be unlikely to feature in Chinese news media, the authorities would see it as a serious blow. China invests heavily in Sudan and is the largest importer of oil from the troubled country. China depends on oil and coal imports from a number of countries in order to keep its growing industry running. China is the second largest energy user and the biggest customer for Sudan’s vast oil reserves buying more than two thirds of its annual output. It places China in a dilemma, caught between its need for oil and the balance of appeasing humanitarian campaigners [BBC]. Oil is the pivotal factor in all this. Many have said that if Saddam Hussein had not had oil, then the war in Iraq may never have been waged. The US has recently become embroiled in a political fight with Venezuelan leader Chavez. Venezuela cut off exports to Exxon after disputes over oil deals [BBC]. President Hugo Chavez has said he will no longer do business with Exxon which he says is not welcome in Venezuela.
Exxon wants compensation following the nationalization of a project in Venezuela's largest oil reserve. This is a fight between two giants - Exxon Mobil, the world's largest private oil firm, versus Venezuela's state energy company. Hugo Chavez has accused Exxon of plundering the nation's resources, claiming their action is part of a wider economic war backed by the US government. The president’s warning of cutting of the export of oil to the US came days after Exxon Mobil won orders in US, UK and Dutch courts to freeze billions of dollars of Venezuelan oil assets. Exxon wants more compensation from the Chavez government after it took control of Exxon oil projects last year [BBC].

China was also in the spotlight in another news item today as Sky News focused once again on Chinese medicine. Environmental campaigners say the Sumatran tiger is at increased risk of becoming extinct as its body parts are sought for the traditional cure-alls. Teeth, claws, penis and bones are just some of the items used in the products. Environmentalist groups say the Indonesian government is failing in efforts to stop the poaching of the rare mammal.

Ian Thorpe, five times gold medal winner, is currently presenting advertisements on CCTV-9 promoting the 2008 Olympic games. The Australian swimmer talks of the Olympic slogan “One World, One Dream” and an event which will bring the world together. It may be prophetic in that many might come together to further criticise China.

1 comment:

Charles L said...

There are plenty of blame to go around, starting with US support of the SPLA and John Garang 10 years ago.

After so many years of inaction and indifference by the West, we suddenly want to blame China for Darfur? China is simply a scapegoat.

Mia Farrow is out of her mind.