Chinese ambassador to the UK banned from Parliament
Zheng Zeguang had been invited to speak at a reception in the terrace pavilion
The Chinese ambassador to the UK was banned from parliament after an invitation to visit the House of Commons sparked indignation among MPs and colleagues who were sanctioned by China.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Lord McFall of Alcluith, Lord Speaker, stepped in at the last minute to prevent Zheng Zeguang from entering the Westminster estate amid outcry over China's human rights abuses.
They made the joint decision after the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office made it clear that it was a matter for Parliament.
Richard Graham, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on China, had invited the diplomat in the summer, even though China had imposed sanctions on five of its conservative colleagues and two members of the upper house. The Telegraph is aware that it has not obtained prior permission from any of the chambers.
In response, the Chinese Embassy in London accused Parliament of "taking a short-sighted, reckless and cowardly move" and warned Britain to "stop doing political tricks or they would only make things worse".
The ban came after the sanctioned MPs, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative leader, wrote to the spokesman condemning the visit, which was due to take place on Wednesday.
Mr. Zheng was invited to speak at a reception in the terrace pavilion.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, one of the Beijing-sanctioned MPs, condemned the planned visit - Oli Scarff / AFP
On Tuesday, Sir Lindsay told The Telegraph: “I hold regular meetings with ambassadors from around the world to create lasting links between countries and parliamentarians. But I do not think it appropriate for the Chinese ambassador to meet in the House of Commons and at our workplace when his country has imposed sanctions on some of our MPs.
“If these sanctions were lifted, this would of course not be an issue. I am not saying that the meeting cannot take place. I'm just saying that it cannot take place here as long as these sanctions remain in place. "
A spokesman for the Lord Speaker added: "The speakers of both Houses agree that this special APPG China meeting should take place in a different location."
Sir Iain thanked both speakers for their “quick” action and said: “This meeting should never have been proposed in the parliamentary estate: the mother of parliaments, who protects freedom of expression and the freedoms of free peoples.
"It is totally unacceptable that sanctioned MPs would have been expected to tolerate the Chinese ambassador in parliament."
In March, China imposed sanctions on ten British organizations and individuals for spreading "lies and disinformation" about human rights abuses in Xinjiang Province.
Sanctioned British politicians - Sir Iain, Tom Tugendhat, Nus Ghani, Neil O’Brien and Tim Loughton - were at the forefront of a campaign calling for sanctions against China for the alleged mass arrests of Uighur Muslims.
In the Lords, Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbencher, and Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws of Labor also imposed sanctions.
Boris Johnson immediately showed solidarity and said: "The freedom to speak out against abuse is fundamental and I stand by you."
In their letter to Sir Lindsay, seen by The Telegraph, the sanctioned MPs described the measures as "threatening and an attempt to silence us and our colleagues and undermine the safety of us all".
They added: “It is therefore unthinkable that parliamentarians should suffer this violation of our freedoms while the main representative of the Chinese government in Great Britain is apparently still free to come to Westminster and use the facilities here as a mouthpiece for his regime. ”
Mr Graham, the Member of Parliament from Gloucester, tried to justify the invitation to Mr Zheng, who took office in January, by saying, “There was no question that something was inappropriate. From my point of view, regardless of the circumstances and situations, it is always better to get involved than not to get involved. "
In this article:
Iain Duncan Smith
British politician (* 1957)
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