Leeds bows to Chinese ‘bully-boy’ tactics
Chinese officials protested after the Dalai Lama addressed a business conference in Leeds on Friday. The Council withdrew its support for the visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader, fearing that their deal with the team would fall through.
Yorkshire MP Fabian Hamilton described the pressure from the Chinese as “bully-boy tactics”. He also expressed his disappointment with the Council bending to Chinese pressure, telling the BBC: “I find it distasteful that representatives of a country whose human rights record is appalling come to the city of Leeds and tell our elected officials that they can’t do what they think is best for the city.”
The Chinese requested that the visit by the Dalai Lama be cancelled, as he is a strong supporter of autonomy for Tibet, which is currently ruled by China.
When the deal was finalised Council leader Keith Wakefield spoke of the “tremendous honour” of hosting the Chinese team. He added: “It remains a massive achievement to have secured these athletes from China.”
If the Olympic deal had fallen through, Leeds would have lose a staggering £250, 000 in funding from Chinese Olympic authorities.
Several hundred Chinese athletes, coaches and support staff are expected to stay in Storm Jameson halls of residence on campus as they prepare for the London games.
Similar problems arose in May when China halted ministerial meetings with the UK after David Cameron met with the Dalai Lama.
Chinese officials cited the UK’s support of “anti-Chinese forces” as a threat to its diplomatic relationship with the UK.
Liu Weimin, a foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing, said: “We hope the British will stop making mistakes which undermine China’s interests.”
An exile from Tibet, the Dalai Lama now travels the world spreading a message of peace and campaigning for Tibetan rights.
Authors: Ellie Parkes and Max Bruges