Council chiefs have given a campaigner permission to speak publicly about human rights abuses in China – despite serious concerns it could ramp up tensions with the country’s Olympic team.
Mary Man, 37, will give a deputation to the full Leeds City Council meeting on Wednesday, just days after China’s athletes arrive in the city to train for London 2012.
It comes at a sensitive time for relations between Leeds and China, which last month threatened to renege on the agreement to send about 50 of its athletes to the city.
The Chinese were angry that Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was allowed to speak at the Yorkshire International Business Convention.
It is understood there were concerns Mrs Man’s deputation would exacerbate the situation.
An internal email seen by the YEP said: “Council officers are apparently worried about relations with our twin city [Hangzhou], and possible effects on the Chinese Olympic team.”
But after negotiations about what she would say, Mrs Man, of Kirkstall, was given the go-ahead.
“It’s very brave for the city council to accept our deputation,” she said.
“We just want to raise awareness and stop persecution. If you think you can keep a good relationship by saying nothing you are helping persecution.
“History will recognise that they have done a good thing.”
Mrs Man, who moved to Leeds from China in 2003, has also extended an invitation to the Chinese athletes to visit a art exhibition she has organised at the Corn Exchange.
The Art of Zhen Shan Ren exhibition depicts apparent acts of torture by the Chinese Communist regime against practitioners of spiritual discipline Falun Gong.
The paintings include images of brutality and organ harvesting – the forcible removal of bodily organs from victims.
She said: “We would welcome the athletes to come and have a look because they don’t know the truth. In China the media is controlled, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to see the truth.”