By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, January 11, 2008; Page A10
BEIJING, Jan. 10 — China on Thursday rejected any attempts to connect humanitarian concerns about Darfur to the upcoming Beijing Olympics, saying they come from people unwilling to view objectively China’s role in that embattled region of Sudan.
China’s defense, given by Liu Guijin, special envoy for Darfur, came as Western governments and U.N. officials intensified criticism of the Sudanese government for throwing up obstacles to the deployment of a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force that is supposed to field 26,000 troops but so far has only 9,000 on the ground.
Liu’s comments reflected a newfound determination by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to respond to critics of its policy in Sudan. In particular, the Chinese government has urgently sought to fend off suggestions that this summer’s Beijing Olympics should be boycotted. Chinese widely regard the Games as an international celebration of their country’s swift progress over the last quarter-century; any boycott would be a political blow to the ruling Communist Party.