Has Steven Spielberg influenced China on Darfur?

Given the opaque nature of the upper echlons of the Chinese government, it’s unknown. But that has been the suggestion by some press outlets after the U.N. Security Council, with China’s support, passed a resolution last week to send a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force to Darfur.

Stories in late July suggested that Spielberg was considering backing out of his role as artistic adviser to the Olympic Games unless something more was done about Darfur, although the director’s rep Andy Spahn said that Spielberg was still monitoring the situation and talking with with Chinese officials.

On Monday, Spahn sounded encouraged.

"The fact that the resolution passed is certainly important," Spahn says. "The test will be in the implementation and how quickly peacekeepers get on the ground."

"All of us need to keep the pressure on to ensure that peace talks get underway and that the peacekeeping force gets on the ground as quickly as possible."

Spielberg sent an open letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao in March, calling on greater action by the Chinese to stop the genocide in Darfur. 

After resisting calls to intervene, China deployed a special envoy and lobbied Sudan to accept a U.N. peacekeeping force.

Spahn says they are currently in the process of setting up a face-to-face meeting with Chinese officials, although no date or place has been set.

Asked whether the director has had an impact, Spahn says, "I hope so."

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