Chinas Sudan Effort Falls Far Short: Mia Farrow


Nov. 21, 2006: US actress Mia Farrow holds a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on her recent experiences on the ground in eastern Chad. Photo: AFP/Tim Sloan

WASHINGTON—China’s bid to answer critics by using its clout to stop violence in troubled Sudan falls far short of what’s needed to make a difference, actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow has said.

Farrow’s March 28 comment in The Wall Street Journal used the term “Genocide Olympics” to call for a boycott of the 2008 Games in Beijing. While Sudan had agreed to allow a small UN peacekeeping force to Darfur, she said, no timeframe had been set, and the proposed 3,000 troops had yet to materialize under an unclear mandate.

“I feel that what Khartoum has agreed to is so minimal as to be nothing,” Farrow told RFA’s Mandarin service.

We’ve seen, over and over again, Khartoum agree to what appears to be something, and if you look closely there is no time frame of when this would happen.

“We’ve seen, over and over again, Khartoum agree to what appears to be something, and if you look closely there is no time frame of when this would happen,” she said. She said neither the mandate for the proposed peacekeepers, nor which countries would provide them, had been clarified.

“Three thousand is vastly insufficient to bring security to the people of Darfur… It really doesn’t amount to anything when it comes to the reality for the people on the ground,” Farrow said.

China has strongly rejected any attempts to link the 2008 Olympics with Darfur.

China's new push

But after Farrow’s article appeared, senior Chinese official Zhai Jun reportedly traveled to Sudan to push the government there to accept UN peacekeeping forces, and then visited Darfur refugee camps.

A report in The New York Times described the move as a policy turnaround for Beijing.

Ruan Zongze, of the Beijing-based Communist Party think-tank the China Institute of International Studies, defended Beijing’s record in Darfur in a recent opinion piece in the English-language official media.

“It not only does disservice to the resolution of the Darfur issue but also constitutes an insult to the Olympic spirit to wantonly blame China for the Darfur crisis and blackmail China by threatening to boycott the Beijing Games next year,” Ruan wrote.

“China places great importance on the humanitarian and security situations in Darfur and has donated more than $10 million in humanitarian aid as well as cash to the AU [African Union] Special Delegation to the region. It has also sent peacekeeping troops to Sudan as part of AU-UN joint peacekeeping forces,” he said in response to Farrow’s op-ed piece.

He said China’s investment in Sudanese oilfields, which Farrow estimated at U.S. $4 billion at least, had played a positive role in helping the local economy and improving living conditions in Sudan.

But Farrow countered that Khartoum has promised for the past few months “in principle” to allow UN peacekeepers in, and withdrawn a previous pledge for that force to include helicopters. Nothing has been done so far.

Corporate sponsors

Farrow had also called on major corporate sponsors of the 2008 Games to use a unique point of leverage to bring pressure to bear on Beijing over Darfur, citing Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and McDonalds as key players.

She also mentioned Steven Spielberg, who will act as creative director for Beijing’s debut on the Olympic stage. Spielberg has since written to Chinese president Hu Jintao about Darfur.

She said: “China has the power and the moral obligation, and it would be great to see China assume moral leadership here and really, really bring an end...of suffering for millions of people whose lives are hanging in the balance here.”

Four years of conflict—termed a “genocide” by Washington—have killed at least 200,000 people and displaced some 2.5 million. Farrow’s reportage from Darfur and neighboring areas details starvation, terror, and rape as a continuing way of life for the region’s people.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Shen Hua. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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