BEIJING - Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's decision to quit the Beijing Olympics over the Darfur crisis is drawing condemnation by China's state-controlled media and a groundswell of criticism from the Chinese public.
Last week, the American director withdrew from his role as an artistic adviser to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Games, accusing China of not doing enough to press for peace in the troubled Sudanese region.
Officially, the Chinese government has not directly criticized Spielberg by name, expressing only "regret" over his decision. But the state-run media and the public have been far less restrained.
In newspaper commentaries and lively Internet forums, they have expressed outrage, scorn and bewilderment that China's Olympics have come under international criticism from Spielberg and others.
A biting front-page editorial Wednesday in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, blasted Spielberg for his decision.
"A certain Western director was very naive and made an unreasonable move toward the issue of the Beijing Olympics. This is perhaps because of his unique Hollywood characteristics," it said.
Over the weekend, the Guangming Daily, also published by the Communist Party, ran an editorial saying Spielberg "broke his promise to make his contribution to the Beijing Olympics and betrayed the Olympic spirit."
He "is not qualified to blame China because he knows nothing about the great efforts the Chinese government has made on Darfur" it said.
An editorial in the China Youth Daily was equally scathing.
"This renowned film director is famous for his science fiction. But now it seems he lives in a world of science fiction and he can't distinguish a dream from reality," it said.
China is believed to have influence over Sudanese leaders because it buys two-thirds of the African country's oil exports. China also sells weapons to the Islamic government and defends it in the United Nations.
More than 200,000 people have died in Darfur in a conflict between rebels and militias backed by government forces.