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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Charles asked to rethink Games snub

January 29, 2008

Mary-Anne Toy Herald Correspondent in Beijing
Sydney Morning Herald
January 29, 2008

CHINESE officials at the opening of the $228-million Olympic aquatic
centre in Beijing yesterday urged Prince Charles to reconsider his
decision to boycott the Games, an apparent snub to China in support of
the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Free Tibet group, which campaigns against human rights abuses, wrote
to the Prince of Wales urging him not to attend the opening ceremony in
Beijing. In a letter released yesterday, Prince Charles's deputy private
secretary, Clive Alderton, replied, indicating the prince would not attend.

There was no reason given for the decision or any indication that he had
been formally invited. But in the letter, Mr Alderton writes: "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.

"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," the letter said.

London's Daily Telegraph reported that the snub came after the Chinese
ambassador, Fu Ying, had made repeated efforts to improve relations with
the prince since her appointment to London last year.

Prince Charles has made little effort to hide his disdain for Chinese
human rights abuses. He reportedly missed the main banquet during a 1999
visit to Britain by the then Chinese president, Jiang Zemin. In May 2004
he hosted a reception at St James Palace for the Dalai Lama, who China
considers a treacherous separatist.

In a diary entry made public in 2006, Prince Charles referred
witheringly to senior Chinese officials at the 1997 handover of Hong
Kong to China as "appalling old waxworks".

A spokesman for the Free Tibet Campaign in London said: "We welcome the
fact the Prince of Wales will not be endorsing China's ongoing human
rights abuses in Tibet by attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic
Games and we are calling on other high-profile public figures and
politicians to follow suit."

At yesterday's opening of the Australian-designed National Aquatic
Centre in Beijing, the chief engineer for the Water Cube's construction,
Ling Fengming, said the Games were not just China's but belonged to the
whole world.

"As for who wants to come and who doesn't want to, it is his own
business," Mr Ling said.

The general manager of China Construction Shareholding Co Ltd, Yi Jun,
urged Prince Charles to reconsider, saying it was a once-in-a lifetime
opportunity. "This will be a great Games. That's why I strongly suggest
to him to bring his family to Beijing," Mr Yi said. "Beijing is an open
place … for everybody in the world."

A spokesman for Clarence House said it would not discuss private
correspondence. The British Foreign Office said it was unable to comment.

Princess Anne, a former Olympic equestrian and member of the
International Olympic Committee, is expected to attend the Beijing Games.
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