Making a stand: Steven Spielberg with his wife Kate Capshaw
Steven Spielberg has pulled out of involvement with the Beijing Olympics in protest over China's human rights record.
The film director's action yesterday put pressure on Gordon Brown to make a stand and refuse an invitation to the Games in August.
Mr Spielberg - who was artistic adviser to the Olympics - accused the Beijing government of escalating the humanitarian crisis in Darfur by its support for Sudan.
He said his conscience would "not allow me to continue with business as usual".
China has been isolated on the world stage over Darfur by giving economic and diplomatic support to the Sudanese government.
It sells weapons to Khartoum, while Sudan provides two thirds of its huge oil reserves to Beijing.
More than 200,000 people are thought to have been killed and a further 2.5million forced from their homes in the five-year conflict between Sudan's Arab-dominated government and Darfur's ethnic African rebels.
China also executes more people than anywhere else in the world and punishes all dissent.
Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle said: "I quite admire Spielberg for taking that stand and not being able to stomach it. It is quite astonishing when you think that Western leaders have rushed to embrace China regardless of its human rights record, principally because of its economic performance."
Asked whether Mr Brown should pull out of attending the Games, he said: "It is for each person's conscience to decide whether in fact they can stomach China."
LibDem foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: "Gordon Brown's silence on human rights and Darfur during his recent Chinese trip stands in sharp contrast to his hand-wringing over Darfur when back in Britain."
Actress Uma Thurman welcomed Spielberg's decision but said his gesture does not go far enough. The Hollywood star called for further protest against China's "appalling" human rights record in Tibet.
Mike Gapes, Labour chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said efforts were being made by the UK and EU to press China on human rights but progress was "glacially slow".
Downing Street declined to comment last night but Culture Secretary Andy Burnham disagreed with Spielberg.
He said: "The power of the Olympic Games is that it does bring people together and it does allow issues of global concern - Darfur is certainly one of those - to be addressed."
British Olympics bosses were this week forced to back down over plans to prevent athletes criticising China's human rights record after being accused of "sucking up to dictators".
In a statement, Mr Spielberg said: "At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies but doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur.
"Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing suffering there." Beijing last night said those who linked the atrocities in Darfur with the Olympics were "unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair".
Spielberg boycotts Beijing Olympics because of China's support for Sudan conflict in Darfur | the Daily Mail