Chinese delegation banned from Queen’s lying-in-state

Commons Speaker moves after sanctions imposed on British MPs, but Chinese vice-president may be allowed

The Commons Speaker has banned a Chinese delegation from entering the parliamentary estate to pay respects to the Queen as she lies in state in Westminster Hall, but the ban may not be extended to the country’s vice-president.

The delegation accompanying the Chinese vice-president, Wang Qishan, is being banned because seven British parliamentarians have been sanctioned by China for spreading lies and disinformation.

The vice-president is flying 5,000 miles from Beijing to attend the Queen’s funeral, and the decision of the Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, has been made independently of the palace. He has responsibility for Westminster Hall, where the Queen’s coffin sits. The Speaker’s office initially refused to comment, saying it was a security issue.

The Chinese ambassador to London, Zheng Zeguang, was banned from entering the estate a year ago in a dispute that originates from UK claims that Chinese authorities have suppressed the rights of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. At the time, Hoyle said the ban on the ambassador would remain in place so long as sanctions remained on British MPs.

The Chinese embassy responded to the ambassador’s exclusion saying “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 is against the wishes and harmful to the interests of the peoples of both countries”.

Heads of state visiting London for the funeral have been invited in groups to attend the lying-in-state in Westminster Hall ahead of Monday’s service, and to sign a book of condolences at Lancaster House. The ban on the Chinese delegation was first reported by Politico.

In March 2021, the UK placed sanctions for gross human rights abuses on four senior officials and the Public Security Bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. China then imposed its reprisals on a group of MPs and academics.

Tim Loughton, one of the Conservative MPs banned by Beijing, said the invitation to China should never have been issued in the first place. “We are not talking about someone that has caused a minor indiscretion. China is a dangerous country,” he said.

Loughton had written to the Speaker in conjunction with the former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the Labour peer Lady Kennedy and the independent peer Lord Alton. They claimed it “would be wholly inappropriate for any representative of the Chinese government to be able to come to the Palace of Westminster’’.

Benedict Rogers, a co-founder of Hong Kong Watch, said: “China is a regime that sits alongside Russia, Belarus and Myanmar that have already not been invited due to their human rights abuses.”

He suggested “the decision may be a legacy of the previous government’s rhetoric and said China was on the Foreign Office invitation list because no one ever thought to change it”.

President Xi, in his message of condolence to the British monarchy, said: “I attach great importance to the development of China-UK relations and stand ready to work with King Charles III, taking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations of ambassadorial level between the two countries as an opportunity, to promote the sound and stable development of bilateral relations for the benefit of the two countries and two peoples.”

In a sign that the Chinese understand the importance of diplomatic protocol, Xi made it clear he was not available to meet the Holy See during the Chinese leader’s brief state visit on Wednesday to Kazakhstan. China had told the Vatican there was not time.


Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Joe Biden latest world leader to witness Queen’s lying in state
US president follows Jacinda Ardern, Emmanuel Macron and many others in paying respects in Westminster Hall

Robert Booth

18, Sep, 2022 @6:14 PM

Article image
Mourners dash for last chance to join queue for the Queen’s lying-in-state
Potential 14-hour wait and a warning about closure did not deter visitors from participating in ‘historic moment’

Emine Sinmaz

18, Sep, 2022 @5:32 PM

Article image
Anger among MPs as Chinese vice-president to attend Queen’s funeral
Wang Qishan to be at service despite banning of Conservative MPs due to complaints about Chinese repression

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

15, Sep, 2022 @6:50 PM

Article image
Queen’s state funeral to be followed by Windsor service and burial next to Philip
Westminster Abbey ceremony to be attended by 2,000 guests and end with two-minute silence

Caroline Davies

15, Sep, 2022 @7:20 PM

Article image
Ministers may face legal action over documents on Queen’s hidden wealth
BEIS has until end of October to respond to request from information commissioner or risk being taken to court

David Pegg and Rob Evans

11, Oct, 2022 @12:54 PM

Article image
More than 29m people in UK watched Queen’s funeral, TV data shows
Figure is fewer than 31m who watched Euro 2020 final, and peaked at 19.5m viewers on BBC One

Jim Waterson and Tobi Thomas

20, Sep, 2022 @6:26 PM

Article image
Man detained after ‘disturbance’ at Queen’s lying in state in Westminster
Source said man ran up and touched the coffin in Westminster Hall before being arrested by police

Aubrey Allegretti

16, Sep, 2022 @10:35 PM

Article image
Starmer pitch perfect on love and grief as Commons meets to pay tribute to Queen
The Labour leader understands that when we grieve for the Queen we are also grieving for ourselves

John Crace

09, Sep, 2022 @6:59 PM

Article image
Disabled woman was not moved for Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield to see Queen lying in state – ITV
Thousands sign petition for This Morning hosts to be fired after claims they jumped queue at Westminster Hall

Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

25, Sep, 2022 @3:09 PM

Article image
Public warned of overnight queues to view Queen’s coffin lying in state
One estimate says people could wait 12 hours to pay respects at Westminster Hall in London

Peter Walker Political correspondent

12, Sep, 2022 @8:35 AM