Commons ban for China envoy in tit-for-tat sanction spat with Beijing
CHINA’S ambassador to the UK has been barred from Parliament in retaliation for Beijing’s sanctions on MPs and peers who have accused the country of genocide.
Zheng Zeguang, pictured, was due to be a guest speaker at a reception on the House of Commons terrace this evening.
He had been invited by the all-party parliamentary group on China despite a deepening diplomatic rift between his country and the UK over human rights, the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and espionage.
It sparked a furious reaction by politicians who were earlier this year accused by Beijing of having ‘maliciously spread lies’ about its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Four of the five MPs censured, who were also hit by a travel ban and an asset freeze, wrote to the Commons authorities condemning the planned visit, while peers warned there would be protests if it went ahead.
Last night Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle ruled that the meeting could not go ahead while the sanctions remained in place.
‘I do not feel it’s appropriate for the ambassador for China to meet on the Commons estate and in our place of work when his country has imposed sanctions against some of our members,’ he said. ‘If those sanctions were lifted, then of course this would not be an issue.’ It is understood the entire reception has now been cancelled. The Chinese embassy last night reacted angrily to the ban. A spokesman said: ‘The despicable and cowardly action of certain individuals of the UK Parliament to obstruct normal exchanges and co-operation between China and the UK for personal political gains is against the wishes and harmful to the interests of the peoples of both countries.’ Tory Sir Iain Duncan Smith, one of the sanctioned MPs, said: ‘This meeting should never have been proposed on the parliamentary estate in the first place.’