TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Zheng Zeguang (鄭澤光), China’s new ambassador to Britain, was banned from entering his host country’s Parliament on Tuesday (Sept. 14), as tensions mount between Beijing and London.
The decision to bar the diplomat was announced by the speakers of both houses of Parliament after complaints were made by a group of British lawmakers who China has placed under sanction, according to a Washington Post report.
Zheng had planned to attend a reception on Wednesday evening (Sept. 15) hosted by the All Party Parliamentary China Group, a group of pro-China lawmakers, and the China-Britain Business Council at the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons.
On Tuesday, the group sent an email which said the event would be postponed but that a “replacement event” would take place at another venue.
Iain Duncan Smith, Nus Ghani, and Tim Loughton — three Conservative MPs sanctioned by China in March for alleged “lies and disinformation” — welcomed the decision to cancel Zheng.
“It would have been an insult to Parliament and to the principle of free speech upon which democracies are founded if the official representative of a regime which had just banned Parliamentarians from entering Chinese territory because they had stood up in the House of Commons to call out China’s appalling human rights abuses was allowed to set foot in the Mother of Parliaments which cherishes those freedoms,” the three lawmakers said in a statement.
Responding to the news, the Chinese Embassy in London on Tuesday fired back at what it dubbed the “despicable and cowardly action of certain individuals of the UK Parliament.”
Zheng is a high-ranking diplomat who has served as vice minister of foreign affairs of China.
China’s previous ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming (劉曉明), resigned in January. Liu had become controversial by the end of his tenure, having publicly condemned the British government’s policy on China. He famously told the BBC that leaked documents showing abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang were “fake news.”