Has China changed its “see no evil stance” on Darfur?

ELIZABETH GLASSANOS/FP Original Did Hollywood’s campaign to link Darfur and the Beijing Olympics work? The New York Times treats China’s envoy to Sudan with kid gloves: A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai even went all the way to ...

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602599_070413_darfur_05.jpg

ELIZABETH GLASSANOS/FP Original

Did Hollywood's campaign to link Darfur and the Beijing Olympics work? The New York Times treats China's envoy to Sudan with kid gloves:

A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai even went all the way to Darfur and toured three refugee camps, a rare event for a high-ranking official from China, which has extensive business and oil ties to Sudan and generally avoids telling other countries how to conduct their internal affairs.

ELIZABETH GLASSANOS/FP Original

Did Hollywood’s campaign to link Darfur and the Beijing Olympics work? The New York Times treats China’s envoy to Sudan with kid gloves:

A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai even went all the way to Darfur and toured three refugee camps, a rare event for a high-ranking official from China, which has extensive business and oil ties to Sudan and generally avoids telling other countries how to conduct their internal affairs.

So what gives? Credit goes to Hollywood — Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg in particular. Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur, which, until recently, Beijing had not seemed too concerned about.

But are the Chinese sincere about using their influence to stop the slaughter in Darfur? It looks like their main concern is averting a PR disaster:

During closed-door diplomatic meetings, Chinese officials have said they do not want any of their Darfur overtures linked to the Olympics, American and European officials said.

In an e-mail message on Thursday, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington warned anew against such a linkage. “If someone wants to pin Olympic Games and Darfur issue together to raise his/her fame, he/she is playing a futile trick,” the spokesman, Chu Maoming, wrote.

That doesn’t sound like a changed regime to me. 

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