China delegation barred from Queen Elizabeth's lying in state

But Vice President Wang Qishan is expected to attend the funeral in Westminster Abbey

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan signs a condolence book at the British Embassy in Beijing to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Xinhua via AP
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Diplomats from China have been banned from attending Queen Elizabeth II’s lying in state by parliament’s leading authority, allegedly in retaliation for Beijing’s sanctioning of British MPs.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, is understood to have turned down a request from the Chinese delegation to be given access to view the queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall, which is part of the parliamentary estate.

An angry diplomatic exchange has also broken out as Conservative MPs barred from China for condemning its human rights record have criticised the decision to send Beijing a funeral invitation.

While Britain has recently taken a more assertive stance against China it has still extended an invitation to its government, and Vice President Wang Qishan is expected to attend the queen's funeral in Westminster Abbey on Monday.

Invitations have not been sent to Russia and Belarus, or Myanmar, as Britain does not have diplomatic relations with them.

A year-long ban was imposed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords on the Chinese ambassador entering parliament in September last year. It came after Beijing sanctioned seven British parliamentarians following allegations of “lies and disinformation” about Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. The ban remains in place while sanctions remain.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader and an MP banned by Beijing, was among several parliamentarians who wrote to Sir Lindsay stating that they were “greatly concerned” that Chinese representatives had received a funeral invitation.

“Given that the United Kingdom Parliament has voted to recognise the genocide committed by the Chinese Government against the Uighur people it is extraordinary that the architects of that genocide should be treated in any more favourable way than those countries who have been barred.”

However, another Conservative MP, Richard Graham, said the spat was “a huge distraction” during a period of national mourning “when there is a ceasefire on all political issues”.

A House of Commons spokesman said “we do not comment on security matters” and a spokesman for Sir Lindsay also declined to comment.

China's President Xi Jinping met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan on Wednesday where Russian officials admitted the Chinese leader had expressed “concern and questions” over the invasion of Ukraine.

As foreign secretary Liz Truss took a hard line against China and that policy is likely to continue now she is prime minister.

Britain’s limited diplomatic relations with Iran led to it being only invited at ambassadorial level, it was reported.

Updated: September 16, 2022, 10:40 AM
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