(TibetanReview.net, Sep15’21) – The Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom has earned the dubious distinction of being banned from the country’s parliament, with the issue being China’s sanctions on the latter’s MPs and peers. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang was otherwise due to attend a Commons reception on Sep 15, hosted by the all-party group on China, reported the telegraph.co.uk Sep 14.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Speaker Lord McFall ruled out the reception after protests from members. They stepped in at the last minute to stop Zheng setting foot on the Westminster estate amid an outcry over China’s human rights abuses, the report said.
They were stated to have taken the joint decision after the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office made it clear that it was a matter for Parliament.
Zheng was then told that he could not come to Parliament while sanctions remained in place against a number of MPs and peers, the report said.
Richard Graham, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG), was stated to have extended the invitation to Zheng during the summer, despite China having placed five of his Conservative colleagues under sanctions, as well as two members of the House of Lords. He reportedly did not seek prior permission from either chamber before extending the invitation.
The report said the ban came after the sanctioned MPs, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, wrote to the Speaker condemning the visit.
The report quoted a spokesman for the Lord Speaker as saying: “The Speakers of both Houses are in agreement that this particular APPG China meeting should take place elsewhere.”
Thanking both Speakers for their “swift” action, Sir Iain has said: “It is completely unacceptable that sanctioned MPs would have been expected to tolerate the Chinese ambassador on the parliamentary estate.”
In March, China imposed sanctions on 10 UK organisations and individuals over what it called the spreading of “lies and disinformation” about human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.
The British politicians placed under sanctions – Sir Iain, Tom Tugendhat, Nus Ghani, Neil O’Brien and Tim Loughton – have been at the forefront of a campaign calling for sanctions against China over the alleged mass rounding-up of Uyghur Muslims.
In the Lords, Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbencher, and Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, of Labour, also had sanctions imposed.
The report said Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately showed his solidarity, saying: “Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them.”
The Chinese embassy “strongly condemned” the move as “a shortsighted, reckless and cowardly move”. It said the a “despicable and cowardly” decision would harm both countries’ interests.