(*_ Leaders in Britain’s parliament barred Tuesday the visit of China’s new ambassador, after Beijing placed sanctions on critical British MPs.
Zheng Zeguang, the new ambassador to China, was scheduled Wednesday to address a group made up of members from both the Houses of Commons (and Lords) who work in promoting UK-China relations.
However, Iain Duncan Smith, one of nine UK MPs who were sanctioned by China for their opposition to Communist Party policies, especially those affecting Uyghurs from the northwest region in Xinjiang, had stated that the visit would be “reprehensible”.
The March sanctions that were placed on the parliamentarians and their families included a ban on travel to mainland China or Hong Kong, which prohibits them from visiting the former British colony.
China placed sanctions against the MPs shortly after Britain, along with the United States of America, Canada, and the European Union, placed sanctions on Chinese officials deemed to be responsible for human rights violations in Xinjiang.
Duncan Smith, along with others on the list, wrote to Lindsay Hoyle (Speaker of the House of Commons), requesting that Zheng be barred from speaking in parliamentary premises.
Hoyle replied to the statement by stating that he met regularly with ambassadors from all over the world in order to strengthen ties with MPs.
He stated that he did not believe it was appropriate for China’s ambassador to meet at the Commons estate or in his place of work, as China has placed sanctions on some of our members.
I’m not saying that the meeting can’t be held, but I am saying it can’t take place while these sanctions are in place.
Speaker of The House of Lords John McFall used similar language.
– ‘Despicable, cowardly action’ –
The spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy said that it was up to the UK sponsors to choose the date and location.
The spokesperson also criticized the “despicable, cowardly actions of certain individuals in the UK parliament to obstruct normal trades and cooperation between China-UK”.
However, Duncan Smith and his sanctioned associates welcomed the “strong principled position” of the speakers. They argued that allowing the visit to the parliament would have been an insult.
Zheng was the predecessor of Liu Xiaoming, a “wolf warrior” diplomatic force that Beijing has deployed. He was known for using inflamatory language on social media to attack UK critics of Chinese policy.
Richard Graham (Conservative chairman of the UK all party parliamentary group on China) expressed hopes that Zheng would adopt a “slightly nuanced approach” to his role. He expressed regret at Hoyle’s decision and said that the group would make arrangements to speak with the ambassador.
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