London sends right message to Beijing by banning China’s new ambassador entry to UK parliament

The Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) welcome the decision of Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Speaker Lord McFall to ban the new Chinese Ambassador, Zheng Zeguang’s entry into the UK Parliament whilst China’s sanctions against the British parliamentarians are in place.

Zheng, who moved to London earlier this year from Beijing to take up China’s top foreign diplomatic post, was scheduled to attend a reception hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary China Group (APPCG) in parliament this week. The APPCG, established in 1997, is believed to be one of the largest all-party parliamentary groups in the UK parliament. It currently has 306 members from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

The BBC reported Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s Statement on this issue and it quoted: “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. 

“If those sanctions were lifted, then of course this would not be an issue.”

Tim Loughton MP, a former Minister, who was one of the MPs sanctioned by the Chinese government earlier this year for speaking up against the Uyghur Muslims genocide and forced labour programme in Tibet, tweeted, “If the genocidal Chinese regime think they can shut down free speech by parliamentarians in a democracy there are consequences and in this case it is that the Chinese regime must not have a platform in the Mother of Parliaments.”

According to media reports, this ruling was made after a number of senior parliamentary figures including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, wrote letters to the Speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, voicing their deep concerns of the Chinese ambassador’s planned visit to the parliament. 

According to BBC, the two sanctioned peers – crossbencher Lord Alton and Labour’s Baroness Kennedy – also wrote to the Lord Speaker.

They said: “The sanctions imposed by the Chinese government represent an attack not just on members directly targeted but on Parliament, all parliamentarians, select committees, and parliamentary privilege.

“We should never allow our place of work to become a platform to validate and promote such sanctions. 

“We know that this is a view shared by a great many Right Honourable and Honourable Members who will wish their protests to be heard if this visit is to go ahead.”

They added: “It is unthinkable therefore that parliamentarians should have to suffer this infringement on our liberties whilst the prime representative of the Chinese government in the UK is still apparently free to come to Westminster and to use facilities here as a mouthpiece for his regime.”

In response to this unprecedented entry ban, the Chinese Embassy, on 14th September, issued a Statement on its website: “The decision of the UK Parliament reflects the narrow and parochial mindset of some individuals in the UK. It is a shortsighted, reckless and cowardly move. We despise and strongly condemn this.

“China’s sanctions on a handful of anti-China parliamentarians of the UK, announced in March, were completely justified and reasonable. It was a necessary response to these people who spread slanderous rumours and disinformation about China’s Xinjiang and to the unilateral sanctions on relevant personnel and institutions in China by the UK side on the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues.”

Tsering Passang, founder and convener of the Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM), said, “We disagree with this latest false statement by the Chinese Embassy because we know what is actually happening in China’s occupied territories such as East Turkistan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) and Tibet. We unequivocally condemn China’s ongoing illegal occupation of Tibet and East Turkistan. The Chinese regime’s continued brutal persecutions of Tibetans, Uyghur Muslims as well as other ethnic minorities must end now. Until we see a real change in the behaviour of Chinese government in these occupied territories, we will continue to garner political support from the UK and around the world.”  

BBC reporting available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-58556460

Author: Tsering Passang (Tsamtruk)

NGO Professional | Human Rights and Political Activist | Author - Founder, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM) - Director, Tibet Foundation (2019 - Jan 2021) - Chairman, Tibetan Community UK | Tibetan Refugee Charitable Trust (2014 - 2016) - Trustee, Tibet House Trust (2014 - 2016) - Council Member, Tibet Society (2014 - 2016) - Special Adviser, Tibet Society (2017 - 2018) - Sponsorship Coordinator, Tibet Relief Fund (2017 - 2016) - Programme Manager, Tibet Foundation (2001 - 2007)

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