- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2008


BEIJING — Britain’s Prince Charles has snubbed the Chinese government by declaring that he will not attend the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer.

The prince made his decision known to campaigners for a free Tibet, who had called on him to show solidarity with those who think the games risk obscuring China’s human rights record.

He gave no reason for his decision, and did not indicate whether he had received a formal invitation. However, he has been wooed by the Chinese, particularly their new ambassador in London, who had made it her mission to encourage him to go.

“As you know, His Royal Highness has long taken a close interest in Tibet, and indeed has been pleased to meet his holiness the Dalai Lama on several occasions,” said a letter to the Free Tibet Campaign from Clive Alderton, the prince’s deputy private secretary.

“You asked if the Prince of Wales would be attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His Royal Highness will not be attending the ceremony.”

Separately, the prince’s staff made clear he will not be attending the games at any stage.

Although the letter avoids backing the group’s position on the games, the Free Tibet Campaign welcomed the decision. It intends to use it in a campaign to persuade other prominent figures not to attend in protest of Chinese policies.

Charles is an admirer of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ spiritual leader, who has been in exile since an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

He has a reputation as China’s leading critic in the British establishment, which encouraged Fu Ying to single him out for attention when she took up her post as ambassador to Britain last year.

This led to a special “Chinese day” last autumn, when the prince toured London’s Chinatown and met visiting Chinese businessmen and women.

Royal sources suggested that the decision to skip the games did not mean the prince had lost interest in China. His charities already are involved in collaboration with China on urban-regeneration projects, which will continue.

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