Okay, this is really something. Mia Farrow wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about the situation in Darfur. In it she publicly called for Stephen Spielberg to take action about the genocide happening there.
What could Spielberg have to do with it? Quite a bit, it seems, since he is an "artistic adviser to the Chinese government for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
It's clear now, right?
Well, maybe not. See, China has been reluctant to go along with anything that's been proposed in the UN. The Chinese have extensive business interests in Sudan, and their unwillingness to help apply diplomatic pressure, President Hassan al-Bashir has felt secure in resisting African, US and European calls for a cease-fire and peacekeeping forces.
When Farrow's op-ed hit, Spielberg wrote a letter to Hu Jintao, China's President. Hu Jintao sent Zhai Jun, described in the article as "a senior Chinese official" to Darfur, where he toured refugee camps and reportedly pressured Hassan al-Bashir to accept UN peacekeepers.
So often US and European dealings with Asian countries are hampered by the gulf between Western and Eastern ways of thinking. What matters to Westerners may not to Easterners. Whether Mia Farrow knew how effective her op-ed would be is debatable, but she certainly was able to zero in on what would make the Chinese government notice - the 2008 Olympics. This is China's coming out party. It is hugely important that everything go well, at least as well as all previous games, and the goal is to outperform everyone. When the Chinese government saw the possibility of linking their Olympic Games to the genocide in Sudan, they took action.
I'm usually very wary of actors getting involved in political issues. Most often they're completely out of their depth and just embarrass all of us. Look at Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger. But this was well done.
cross-posted at Ezra's place