U.S. actress-activist Mia Farrow is airing a series of "Darfur Olympics" webcasts that coincide with the Beijing Games, blasting the Chinese, who have close economic ties to Sudan, for funding the Darfur genocide. But some Sudan experts say Farrow has been too quick to demonize China.
Farrow, who has dubbed this year's Olympics the "Genocide Games," is airing one webcast for each day of the competition, and calls for a complete boycott of the Games.
According to the United Nations, up to 300,000 people have been killed by Sudan, which enjoys close trade relations with China. Critics have continuously condemned China's oil purchases, the earnings of which, they say, are used to fund the Janjaweed militia and buy weapons again from China.
Sudan and China deny the charges, but Beijing has resisted tough U.N. Security Council action against Sudan over the conflict.
In an interview by satellite phone with ABC News from the Chad-Darfur border, Farrow said that the conditions in the refugee camps are "overwhelming," with a lack of food and clean water.
"I hope people will watch and they'll get a sense of the desperation of the people here," said Farrow.
But some Sudan experts say that though Chinese officials should be doing more to help the desperate situation in Darfur, they should be recognized for having played an active role in pushing Khartoum to allow peace-keeping forces into the region.
China was a crucial player in negotiations with Khartoum for the authorization of 26,000 African Union/United Nations troops, according to J. Stephen Morrison, a Sudan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who said that China has done more on the ground in Sudan than the United States.
"China has put their own men on the ground, which the [the United States] has not had the guts to do," said Morrison. "Having Farrow there is helpful to put pressure on China to do more to help the people of Darfur. But we have to recognize what China has done."
Morrison says some activists exaggerate the influence China has on Sudanese politics. While China's investment is significant, he believes Khartoum would find other suitors, like Russia, to buy its oil if China became too hard-edged. "Khartoum could throw [the Chinese] out tomorrow," he said.
According to Morrison, Farrow is raising just one of many issues China is being asked to address, and he says other issues closer to home, like Tibet, are higher priorities for Beijing.
"Tibet is more strategically important to [China]," said Morrison. "Tibet is an immediate internal strategic sovereign matter. In Darfur, China is being asked to act as third party to affect influence."
In the most recent of Farrow's webcasts, which was released online Tuesday, Farrow says that the people of Darfur feel that there will be no peace in the region until Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is in jail.
"We hear the international community bickering: should there be peace or should there be justice," said Farrow in the video. "For the people here, they believe that peace will come if there can be justice."
Farrow interviewed a group of women who said they were elated when they heard of the International Criminal Court's possible indictment of Bashir.
"We were shouting and laughing," said one woman through a translator.
Another Darfur refugee said through a translator: "Peace without justice is nothing."
The first of the webcasts, which aired August 8, was an alternative opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics featuring images of Darfur's children in refugee camps. In it, Farrow appeals to Olympic viewers to change the channel whenever they see commercials by the 15 corporate Olympic sponsors that refused to speak up about the Darfur situation.
The Chinese Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment on this story.
The website for Farrow's group, "Dream for Darfur," has been blocked in China, according to the group. China barred a Dream for Darfur member from entering the country. The activist had planned to take the video made by Farrow to reporters in China.