Fury at China ‘threat to axe Olympic camp’ over Dalai Lama visit

A YORKSHIRE MP has accused China of “bully-boy tactics” following reports that the country threatened to pull its athletes out of their Olympic training camp in Leeds because of the Dalai Lama’s visit to the city.

Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP for Leeds North East and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, told the BBC it was “reprehensible and disgraceful” that Chinese representatives could tell democratically elected councillors “that they can’t do what they think is best for the city under pain of economic sanction”.

Leeds is hosting the exiled Tibetan leader tomorrow at the Yorkshire International Business Convention (YIBC).

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Lord Prescott has already cancelled his appearance at the YIBC in case he offends political connections in China, said organisers, and earlier this week Trade Minister Lord Green pulled out from a related event, although he blamed this on having to attend the G20 summit in Mexico.

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan said last night: “The Yorkshire International Business Convention is a private event not organised by Leeds City Council.

“Whilst we are aware of some sensitivities around this year’s convention, as it is not a council event we do not feel it is appropriate for us to make any further comment.”

A spokeswoman added: “We have nothing to add to the statement, but can confirm that there is no change to the Chinese athletes’ training camp in Leeds.”

YIBC organiser Mike Firth has a track record of bringing international figures to Yorkshire. Past speakers include Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, George Bush senior and Mikhail Gorbachev.

A spokesman for the convention said last night: “I have spoken to Mike and he says he doesn’t want to comment on the issue.”

A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry last month condemned Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, claiming it “severely interfered in China’s internal affairs”.