China state newspaper lambastes Spielberg on Darfur

Wed Feb 20, 2008 2:10am EST
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By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) - A top Chinese state newspaper has lambasted Hollywood director Steven Spielberg for quitting the Beijing Olympic Games over Darfur, saying "childish" vanity politics lies behind Western criticism of Beijing policy.

China's role in Sudan came under a harsh international spotlight last week when Spielberg quit as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Games, claiming China had failed to use enough of its sway with Khartoum to press for peace in Darfur.

At the time, Chinese officials expressed muted disappointment with the Oscar-winning director.

But the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's official paper, came out swinging on Wednesday.

"A certain Western director is very naive and has come out with an over-the-top act that defies common sense. Perhaps that's just the special temperament of Hollywood figures," the commentary said in an unmistakable reference to Spielberg.

"The Darfur problem was not created by China and is not in any way related to China's policies in Africa ... Linking the Darfur problem to the Beijing Olympics is unfair."

The rhetorical blast came as Beijing also lifted its diplomatic profile on Darfur, seeking to douse criticism and protests that could mar the Olympics, which begin in August.

The government wants to use the Games as a showcase for its economic successes.   Continued...

<p>Director Steven Spielberg waves at the Women in Film 2007 Crystal and Lucy Awards in Beverly Hills, California June 14, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>