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. Zheng Zeguang was due to attend a Commons reception on Wednesday, hosted by the all-party group on China. But after protests, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord Speaker Lord McFall ruled this out.
The action was taken after Beijing imposed sanctions on legislators after they spoke out against alleged human rights abuses directed at the minority Uighurs in the far western region of Xinjiang. The Chinese embassy said it was a “despicable and cowardly” decision that would harm both countries’ interests. Despite this, the China parliamentary group still decided to invite Mr Zheng to its summer party on the Commons terrace pavilion overlooking the Thames. Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, and John McFall, the speaker of the House of Lords, said it would not be “appropriate” for Zheng Zeguang to speak at an event in parliament while members were subject to Chinese sanctions. The ban was put in place on Tuesday. The ban, which was first reported by the Daily Telegraph, comes at a time when tensions between the two governments are high. In March, China imposed travel bans and asset freezes on five MPs and two peers whom it accused of spreading lies about the country. China imposed sanctions on nine British politicians, lawyers and an academic in March for spreading what it said were “lies and disinformation” over the treatment of the mostly Muslim Uighurs.