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World China's ambassador banned from UK Parliament

10:06  15 september  2021
10:06  15 september  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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China's ambassador to the UK has been told he cannot come to Parliament while sanctions remain in place against a number of MPs and peers.

a person standing in a room: Zheng Zeguang had a virtual audience with the Queen on his appointment as ambassador in July © Getty Images Zheng Zeguang had a virtual audience with the Queen on his appointment as ambassador in July

Zheng Zeguang was due to attend a House of Commons reception on Wednesday, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China.

But after protests, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Speaker Lord McFall ruled this out.

The decision may provoke a diplomatic row between London and Beijing.

First reported by the Daily Telegraph, it comes at a time when tensions between the two governments are high.

China Calls U.K. Decision to Ban Ambassador 'Shortsighted, Reckless and Cowardly'

  China Calls U.K. Decision to Ban Ambassador 'Shortsighted, Reckless and Cowardly' Zheng Zeguang, who began his posting in June, has been barred from the parliamentary estate until sanctions on British MPs are lifted.In a response to the ban, the Chinese Embassy in the U.K. called the decision "shortsighted, reckless and cowardly." In a statement on its website, it said the sanctions on British citizens in March were "completely justified and reasonable.

In March, China imposed travel bans and asset freezes on five MPs and two peers whom it accused of spreading lies about the country.

This was in response to the UK's decision to impose its first sanctions against Chinese officials for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Despite this, the China parliamentary group still decided to invite Mr Zheng to its summer party on the Commons terrace pavilion overlooking the Thames.

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Last week, the five Conservative MPs who were sanctioned - Sir Iain Duncan-Smith, Tom Tugendhat, Nusrat Ghani, Neil O'Brien and Tim Loughton - wrote to the Speaker voicing their concerns.

The two sanctioned peers - crossbencher Lord Alton and Labour's Baroness Kennedy - wrote to the Lord Speaker.

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  Taiwan Air Force Expels China Warplanes During Anti-landing Drills Taiwan's Defense Ministry has confirmed air defense identification zone intrusions by a fleet of nine Chinese military aircraft on Wednesday.The Republic of China (ROC) Air Force tasked combat air patrols and issued radio warnings to approaching People's Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes, which were also tracked with surface-to-air missile systems as they entered the southwest corner of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), Taiwan's Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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."

Lindsay Hoyle wearing a suit and tie: Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked China to reconsider the sanctions against MPs and peers © PA Media Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked China to reconsider the sanctions against MPs and peers

In a statement, Sir Lindsay said he held regular meetings with ambassadors to "establish enduring ties between countries and parliamentarians".

But he added: "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 added. "If those sanctions were lifted, then of course this would not be an issue."

Lord McFall's spokeswoman said the "meeting should take place elsewhere considering the current sanctions against members including two members of the Lords".

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: "Parliament is independent of government. It is for the Speaker to decide who is allowed on the parliamentary estate."

The Chinese embassy has been approached for comment but has yet to respond.

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