Leaders of the British parliament on Tuesday banned the visit of the new Chinese ambassador after Beijing imposed sanctions on critical British MPs.
Emissary Zheng Zeguang was due to address a group of members from both the Houses of Commons and Lords on Wednesday who are working to promote UK-China relations.
But Iain Duncan Smith – one of nine British MPs and individuals sanctioned by China for opposing Communist Party policies, especially those affecting Uyghurs in the northwestern Xinjiang region – said the visit would be “Reprehensible”.
Among the sanctions imposed on parliamentarians and their family members in March was a travel ban barring them from entering mainland China or the former British colony of Hong Kong.
China’s sanctions against MPs came shortly after Britain – along with the United States, Canada and the European Union – imposed sanctions on Chinese officials found responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Duncan Smith and others on the sanctions list wrote to Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, asking him to ban Zheng from speaking on Parliament’s premises.
In a statement, Hoyle responded by noting that he regularly meets with ambassadors from around the world to strengthen ties with MPs.
“But I do not think it is appropriate for the Chinese ambassador to meet on the domain of the Commons and at our workplace when his country has imposed sanctions against some of our members,” he said. declared.
“If those sanctions were lifted, then of course that wouldn’t be a problem.
“I’m not saying the meeting can’t take place – I’m just saying it can’t take place here as long as these sanctions remain in place.”
House of Lords Speaker John McFall issued similar language.
“Despicable and cowardly action”
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said it was up to UK sponsors of the event in parliament to decide when and where.
More broadly, the spokesperson attacked “the despicable and cowardly action of certain individuals in the British parliament to obstruct normal trade and cooperation between China and the United Kingdom.”
But Duncan Smith and some of his sanctioned colleagues praised the “strong principled position” taken by the speakers, arguing that allowing the visit would have been “an insult to parliament”.
Zheng’s predecessor, Liu Xiaoming, one of Beijing’s new “wolf warrior” diplomats, has been noted for his inflammatory social media comments attacking British critics of Chinese politics.
Richard Graham, Conservative chairman of the British all-party parliamentary group on China, had expressed hope that Zheng would take a “slightly more nuanced approach to his role than his predecessor.”
He expressed “regret” at Hoyle’s decision and said the group would make further arrangements to hear from the ambassador.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)