The Lord Mayor of London heads a business linked to a ‘ruthless’ Chinese politician accused of human rights abuses in Tibet.
The Mail on Sunday last month revealed concerns over Professor Michael Mainelli’s links to Beijing and his calls for a wave of Chinese nationals to be recruited into the City of London’s ancient guilds.
Now this newspaper has learned that Z/Yen, a consultancy Prof Mainelli founded, is sponsored by a Chinese research institute chaired by Ye Xiaowen, a hardline Communist apparatchik who for more than a decade oversaw Beijing’s crackdown on followers of Tibet’s exiled Dalai Lama.
Ye, 73, was last year barred from entering Taiwan because of his appalling human rights record.
Our revelations will fuel criticisms that Prof Mainelli – figurehead of the Square Mile – is ‘naive’ and potentially ‘unfit’ to help the City combat threats from Beijing.
MI5 has told British business China’s ‘covert pressure across the globe’ was ‘the most game-changing challenge we face’.
‘The Lord Mayor should be aware that he is cooperating with a ruthless hardline party apparatchik who has played a pivotal role in extreme policies to control and eliminate religious faith in China,’ said Tenzin Choekyi, from human rights campaign Tibet Watch.
Z/Yen, chaired by Prof Mainelli, lists China Development Institute (CDI) among its ‘platinum sponsors’.
CDI’s board of directors is chaired by Ye, China’s head of religious affairs between 1995 and 2009, who is accused of orchestrating a series of attacks against Tibetan Buddhism.
Under Ye’s leadership, monks and nuns were forced to undergo ‘patriotic education’, while reincarnations of Tibetan religious figures must now be approved by Beijing.
In 1995, senior Communist officials, including Ye, seized control of the search for Tibet’s second most senior monk, the Panchen Lama.
A six-year-old boy chosen by the exiled Dalai Lama was kidnapped by Chinese police and never seen again.
In 2008, hundreds of Tibetans were held after protests before the Olympics. Ye is also accused of a brutal crackdown on the Falun Gong sect, calling it a ‘poisonous tumour’.
Last February, Taiwan said it had banned Ye from attending a commemoration ceremony on the island. It said Ye’s previous visit in 2009 sparked public protests.
Last night Chung Ching Kwong, analyst at the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, demanded Prof Mainelli disclose how much money CDI has paid Z/Yen in sponsorship.
She said: ‘Ye is linked to so many human rights abuses, receiving any funding from this person is unacceptable. What kind of message does this send to the public about the image of the City of London?’
The City of London Corporation said: ‘The Foreign Office recently engaged with CDI, and we will continue to seek guidance from the Foreign Office on the current status of our relations with China.’
Z/Yen last night said it had ‘no dealings’ with Ye and that Prof Mainelli is on a ‘sabbatical’ from the consultancy during his year as Lord Mayor.