Chinese delegation boycotts Sheffield film festival
A group of TV executives from Chinese television are boycotting a Sheffield film festival over the screening of a film about a Chinese dissident.
The documentary on artist Ai Weiwei is scheduled to be shown at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.
The 10-strong Chinese delegation pulled out after the festival refused a request from the Chinese Embassy to drop the documentary.
The Chinese Embassy in London has not responded to requests for a comment.
The documentary by New York-based journalist Alison Klayman is called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
Ai Weiwei is most famous in the west for helping design the "Birds' Nest" stadium for the Beijing Olympic Games, and for an exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery in London featuring a carpet of 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds.
The 55-year-old artist is a vocal critic of the Chinese government. He has complained about a lack of basic rights and freedoms and often incorporates these political themes into his work.
Mr Ai was arrested in April 2011 by Chinese authorities over allegations of tax avoidance. He was held in a secret location for 81 days.
The Sheffield Doc/Fest said it was "disappointed" at the Chinese decision to pull out of the festival.
Heather Croall, Sheffield Doc/Fest director, said: "Officially we have been told that the reason the Chinese delegation cancelled is related to a restriction on the number of travel trips they can make to Europe.
"Unofficially though, there were a number of difficult conversations regarding films we are screening in our programme that challenge issues of freedom of speech in China.
"We came under pressure to not show certain films. We resisted the pressure, and the films remain in the programme."
The boycott comes after China threatened to pull its athletes out of their Leeds Olympic training camp due to a visit by the Dalai Lama to the city.