American director Steven Spielberg made a public announcement withdrawing his involvement from the Beijing Games as an overseas artistic advisor.
He said he never signed the contract the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee gave him almost a year ago. In that time he has tried to persuade President Hu Jintao to step up efforts in bringing safety and peace in the Darfur region in Sudan.
But for Spielberg, this and possibly the public humiliation campaign actress Mia Farrow threatened to implement, China hadn't done enough for Darfur and he declined to be further involved in Beijing's coming out party.
At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur. Sudan' s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there. China' s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change. The situation has never been more precarious - and while China' s representatives have conveyed to me that they are working to end the terrible tragedy in Darfur, the grim realities of the suffering continue unabated.
The Chinese took some time to respond, and finally called Spielberg's decision as "regretful".
The government has decided to blame the director for linking the Olympic Games with politics and questioned why people are connecting this upcoming international event with an African country.
"It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government's policy on Darfur," said Foreign Affairs spokesman Liu Jianchao. "But we can't accept that some people want to use this as an opportunity to link Darfur to China's Africa and Sudan policies, and even to the Beijng Olympic Games."
Liu elaborated by explaining China has offered $11.1 million in humanitarian aid to the Darfur region, that China is working with the UN to resolve the conflict and has even sent troops there.
But to add a scrappy voice at the back of the room, a Chinese-language newspaper called Global Times said Spielberg's decision to bow out due to political reasons "disgusted" ordinary Chinese.
"Western exploitation of the Olympics to pressure China immediately provoked much disgust among ordinary Chinese people," the paper said.
"The vast majority of Chinese people have expressed bafflement and outrage at the Western pressure. In ordinary Chinese' eyes, it is totally ridiculous to place the Darfur issue, so many thousands of kilometers away, on China's shoulders," it said.Although China is trying very hard to control its image abroad, it will not be able to stop the continual bombardment of criticism from people outside the country.
China and its people need to understand that once you put yourself up on the world stage, others start to take notice and expect you to be accountable for your actions.
And the Chinese need to understand critics don't just do this to China -- anyone is fair game.