Steven Spielberg sent a letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao, expressing dismay at the country’s “silence in the wake” of Sudan’s refusals to accept a deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur.
Although Spielberg doesn’t mention the Olympics, in doubt is whether he will continue his role as artistic adviser to next summer’s Games in Beijing.
Some Darfur activists, including actress Mia Farrow, have called for him to resign his role, as China has influence over Sudan as one of its leading trading partners.
Spielberg’s letter does not mention his role in the Olympics, but his political representative, Andy Spahn, said that they “will address that issue after the first of the year.”
Spielberg’s latest letter was addressed on Nov. 15 but released to the press today.
He writes that after China appointed a special envoy to Darfur and and gave its support to a UN resolution to send a peacekeeping force to the region, “I, and much of the rest of the world, felt a sense of optimism and hoped it would bring a lasting peace to the region.”
“Unfortunately, since that time, the situation in Darfur has deteriorated and while China’s earlier efforts were encouraging, its silence in the wake of Sudan’s recent actions and the resulting chaos on the ground has been disturbing. Sudan is continuing to defy the international community, creating obstacles to the deployment of peacekeepers, increasing violent campaigns against Darfuris and expelling humanitarian officials essential to the very survival of millions of desperate citizens.”
He notes that the UN’s warning that unless Sudan accepts a hybird peacekeeping force, and other countries contribute, the force will not be ready for deployment in January, 2008.
“So I write you now with a renewed sense of urgency in the hope that China will redouble its efforts to pressure Sudan to join in a fair peace agreement and, at last, bring an end to the genocide.”
“Without China’s insistence, I fear Sudan will simply ‘wait out the clock.'”
In September, Spielberg met with special envoy Liu Guijin in New York and has corresponded with Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong. The director had sent a previous letter to Hu in March.
Spahn says that they are releasing the letter now “in the hopes that it will create action.”
“We have called to follow up and were assured immediately that it was delivered to Beijing,” Spahn says. But “having not received a response, we felt we should release it publicly in the hope that it will move the debate forward.”