Tag Archives: Sudan

NYT Forgets to Look Past Hollywood in China-Sudan Story

Helene Cooper writes in The New York Times:

[I]n the past week, strange things have happened. A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai even went all the way to Darfur and toured three refugee camps, a rare event for a high-ranking official from China, which has extensive business and oil ties to Sudan and generally avoids telling other countries how to conduct their internal affairs.

So what gives? Credit goes to Hollywood — Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg in particular.

The article proceeds from there, actually giving the impression that a couple of people from the U.S. movie scene convinced the Chinese government to change its stance. Sure, the two have done some effective advocacy on the issue. Farrow started a campaign to brand the Beijing Olympics as the “Genocide Olympics.” And she pressured Spielberg, who’s advising the Chinese government on something or another related to the games, to pressure Chinese officials by saying he might compare to a Nazi propagandist if he didn’t speak up. (He did—in a letter to President Hu.)

The trouble is that the article doesn’t mention the dozens of campaigns and websites from elsewhere on Earth devoted to the same thing. Besides, the article says Farrow got on board last month. What about the Washington Post editorial from December that suggested that U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson bring up what the headline called the “genocide olympics” issue? Oh, and then there are the French presidential candidates calling for their country to boycott.

China, U.S. In Greater Accord Over Darfur

The U.S. and Chinese governments have not seen eye to eye on the issue of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan. China, for one thing, gets a lot of oil from Sudan. The Chinese government, too, has strong incentives not to support military intervention when not welcomed by the government of Sudan. Though the Sudanese genocide and human rights issues in Tibet are not comparable, some analysts I’ve spoken to have speculated that China might even veto a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the “responsibility to protect”-based circumvention of the principle of national sovereignty. Inviolable borders, they say, are a big priority for the Chinese government.

Neither the United States nor China is now calling for a full-blown military intervention, but after a recent discussion between Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and China’s new pressure on Sudan to act, the countries seem to be more or less working together.

I wonder if this will temper some groups’ calls for a boycott of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing on human rights grounds.