China says it regrets U.S. film director Steven Spielberg's decision to step down as artistic consultant to the Beijing Olympic Games, because of the ongoing violence in Sudan's Darfur region.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry made the comment Thursday in Beijing.
The Academy Award-winning director quit the post on Tuesday, saying his conscience will not allow him to continue because he believes China has not done enough in resolving the crisis in Sudan's western region.
The state-run Global Times newspaper ran a statement by the Chinese embassy in the United States Thursday, calling efforts to link the upcoming Olympics to Darfur as "irresponsible and unfair."
China is major ally of the central African nation, and imports nearly two-thirds of that country's oil.
Critics say China has repeatedly used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to prevent tough punitive measures against Sudan.
On Tuesday, a group of Nobel Peace laureates, politicians and Olympic athletes issued a letter calling on China to use its influence on Sudan to help end the Darfur crisis. The letter was also signed by Jacques Rogge, the head of the International Olympic Committee.
More than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a similar open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday.
More than 200,000 people have died and more than two million others displaced in Darfur since 2003, when fighting erupted between rebels and government-backed Arab militias.