A former Chinese official has said activists on the Darfur issue are using
the Olympics as an excuse to attack China and that they do not really care about
the situation in the Sudanese region. His comments came just a day after the
Chinese government revoked a visa for a U.S. athlete who was planning to protest
against China's support for the Sudanese government. Daniel Schearf reports from
Former Chinese foreign ministry
spokesman and ambassador to France, Wu Jianmin, on Thursday brushed
criticism of China's policy on Darfur.
Speaking to journalists at
an Olympics media briefing, Wu said there was no basis for activists to blame
China for the situation in the war-torn region.
He says activists do not
really care about Darfur and are just protesting because they want to use the
Olympic Games to smear China's image. He says they have ulterior motives.
Wu was responding to criticism of China's decision to, at the last
minute, revoke a visa for U.S. speed skating champion Joey Cheek.
is part of "Team Darfur," a group of athletes campaigning to bring attention to
the plight of civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan.
organizations say Beijing has fueled the four-year conflict between Khartoum and
rebels in the region. They say China's oil investment and weapons sales to Sudan
have supported government troops and militias, some of whom have massacred and
Actress Mia Farrow is in neighboring Chad holding an
ongoing protest against the Olympics from Darfur refugee camps. During a
teleconference with journalists Thursday she chastised Chinese officials for not
taking the issue seriously.
"Obviously, the tragedy in Darfur could not
continue without the ongoing support of Beijing. And, shame on them and shame on
the Olympic Committee for choosing Beijing and putting the athletes in this
untenable position," she said.
Chinese officials say weapons sold to
Sudan are not to be used in Darfur and deny they are doing anything that would
fuel the conflict.
China has won some applause for urging Khartoum to
peacefully resolve the issue but has not stopped weapons sales and continues to
invest heavily in Sudan's oil.
On other Olympic protests, China has
deported two American and two British nationals for demonstrating Wednesday
outside the main Olympic venue.
The four members of "Students for a Free
Tibet" hung banners on light posts calling for freedom in Tibet.
American Christians were also detained Thursday after protesting against human
rights abuses for a second day in Tiananmen Square.
The group had
shouted near the square Wednesday, was briefly detained, and then, in an unusual
move, released. The group returned the next day and held a brief demonstration
and prayer in front of foreign journalists before police dragged them away.