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Spielberg decision to quit 'regretful'
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The government Thursday expressed regret over the decision by Hollywood movie director Steven Spielberg to quit as an artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics Games.

The American announced his decision on Wednesday, citing concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, which he linked to China.

"We express regret (for his decision)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Thursday at a regular briefing.

Responding to recent remarks by some Westerners linking China to Darfur, Liu said China has "noticed these or those discussions and moves on China's stance on Darfur".

"It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government's policy on Darfur," he said. "But we can't accept that some people want to use this as an opportunity to link Darfur to China's Africa and Sudan policies, and even to the Beijng Olympic Games."

Liu said China has been working with the United Nations to resolve the Darfur crisis.

"China is also concerned about the humanitarian crisis there, but we have been playing a positive and constructive role in promoting peace in Darfur."

China has so far offered $11.1 million in humanitarian aid to Sudan, Liu said. Chinese firms have also offered aid.

China National Electric Equipment Corporation has completed 18 small-scale power plants in Darfur and two more are under construction. 
In addition, Beijing will send 315 engineering troops to the region, 140 of which have already arrived.

Last year, when Sudan and the UN differed over the deployment of hybrid peacekeeping forces, China sent a special envoy several times to Khartoum to persuade the government to accept the UN resolution.

"On the issue of Darfur, empty rhetoric will not help," Liu said. "What is more important is to do more things to help with the peace process there and alleviate the humanitarian crisis."

In an article summarizing the response of the Chinese public to the decision by Spielberg and some other Westerners to boycott the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese-language current affairs newspaper Global Times Thursday said the moves have "disgusted" ordinary Chinese.

"Western exploitation of the Olympics to pressure China immediately provoked much disgust among ordinary Chinese people," the paper said.

"The vast majority of Chinese people have expressed bafflement and outrage at the Western pressure. In ordinary Chinese' eyes, it is totally ridiculous to place the Darfur issue, so many thousands of kilometers away, on China's shoulders," it said.

The newspaper quoted Professor Jin Canrong from the Renmin University of China as saying that linking Darfur to the Olympics shows some Western countries were exploiting their "media hegemony" to whip up prejudice.

"Whoever uses this humanitarian issue to criticize China and put pressure on China gains something of a halo," Jin was quoted as saying.

"The West has seized on China's tremendous emphasis on the Olympic Games to criticize China."

Treaty on preventing arms race in outer space


China hoped that a draft treaty on preventing an arms race in outer space would receive a positive response from relevant countries, Liu said.


Liu was responding to a question on the United States' rejection of a call for a new treaty to ban the use of weapons in outer space.


Russia and China on Tuesday jointly submitted to an UN-sponsored disarmament conference a proposal for an international treaty to ban the deployment of weapons in outer space.


The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT), was presented at a plenary session of the Conference on Disarmament. That is the world's sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations, and its function is to prevent the weaponization of, or an arms race in, outer space and to safeguard peace and stability there.


Liu said that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have elaborated on their stances on the issue, and Yang stressed that a new treaty would be conducive to the common interests of all countries.


It is necessary for the international community to create a new legal document to strengthen the current legal system concerning outer space, Liu noted.


China hoped that the Conference on Disarmament would conduct substantial discussions on the draft treaty as soon as possible and reach a consensus, Liu said.


Liu said that such a draft treaty was of positive significance to world peace and stability as well as the peaceful use of outer space.


US spying charges 'groundless'


China rejected the US allegations of espionage, saying the charges were "groundless" and "with ulterior motives".


"We urged the United States to abandon its Cold War thinking and stop groundless accusations and instead contribute to increasing mutual trust and friendship between our two peoples," Liu said.


"For a period of time, certain country has made irresponsible fabrication on this issue and staged some farces," he said, adding "I think everyone is now tired of these farces which should come to an end."


The US Justice Department said Monday that four people were arrested in the United States on charges of spying for China in two separate cases.


Dumpling poisoning case


China and Japan have sufficient wisdom to properly resolve the dumpling poisoning case in Japan, said Liu.


"I believe the incident will not have impact on the upcoming high-level visit between the two countries," Liu said.


Liu said the incident was an "isolated case" rather than a systematic food safety problem, judging from investigation results.


He said China has taken a highly-responsible attitude toward the issue and carried out investigations immediately after learning the dumpling poisoning case in Japan.


He called on both sides to form a joint team to make further investigations into the case.


"Finding out the truth is vital to rebuilding Japanese consumers' confidence in Chinese products and to normal economic and trade cooperation between the two countries," Liu said.


Japanese media reports said 10 Japanese people fell ill in December and January after consuming frozen meat dumplings produced by Tianyang Food Plant based in north China's Hebei Province.


Japanese authorities found the insecticide methamidophos in the vomit of those poisoned and in food packages at their houses.


Tests, however, showed the rest of the dumplings from the same batches sold in Japan, totaling more than 2,000 packages, were safe. So were all the other products made by the Chinese company.


UN special advisor to Myanmar's coming visit


Ibrahim Gambari, special advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will visit China from Feb. 18 to 19, according to Liu.


Liu said the Chinese side would exchange views with Gambari on the situation in Myanmar and the meditation of the UN secretary-general.


He said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Ban Ki-moon talked over the phone on Wednesday night on the visit of Gambari, as well as the situation in Myanmar.


The two sides agreed that the UN secretary-general should continue the meditating role, according to Liu.


The spokesman said Yang and Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi would meet Gambari during his visit.


China has noticed the Myanmar government was moving forward the process of democracy, and hoped it will promote the national reconciliation and achieve democracy and development, Liu said.


(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)

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