China’s Ambassador to the UK Zheng Zeguang has been banned from the British Parliament over Beijing’s sanctions against Britain’s lawmakers.
Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle made it clear in a statement that Zheng would not attend a Commons reception on Wednesday, due to be hosted by the All Party Parliamentary China Group.
“I regularly hold meetings with ambassadors from across the world to establish enduring ties between countries and parliamentarians. But 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”, Hoyle said.
The Chinese Embassy in the UK was quick to respond by slamming “the despicable and cowardly action of certain individuals of the UK Parliament to obstruct normal exchanges and cooperation between China and the UK for personal political gains”.
The embassy argued that the action was “against the wishes and harmful to the interests of the peoples of both countries”.
In March, the Chinese government imposed sanctions on nine British politicians, MPs, and an academic for spreading what Beijing described as “lies and disinformation” over the treatment of Uighurs, a Muslim minority living in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang.
Human rights groups have long accused Chinese authorities of sending Uighurs to detention camps and using them in forced labor. Beijing vehemently rejects the accusations, insisting the facilities that rights groups are referring to are in fact “vocational training centers” used to eradicate extremism and stamp out poverty.