Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan attends Queen Elizabeth’s lying in state

September 18, 2022 GMT

Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan visited the lying in state of Queen Elizabeth on Sunday evening two days after Parliament officials reportedly barred a Chinese delegation from attending the vigil.

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle rejected a request by a delegation of Chinese officials, including its ambassador to Britain, to attend the lying in state, Politico reported on Friday.

Zheng Zeguang, China’s ambassador to Britain, was barred from attending Parliament last year after Beijing sanctioned several British lawmakers who have been outspoken about purported human rights abuses against ethnic Muslim Uygurs in the Western region of Xinjiang.

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However, Commons officials had left open the possibility late Friday that Wang would still be allowed to attend the vigil, saying any heads of state or their representatives invited to attend the state funeral on Monday also were invited to attend the lying in state.

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“The sanction against those accredited officials remains in place and will remain so,” Hoyle said on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg. “There is an easy answer, lift the sanctions, we can look to see whether we should have a reception in Parliament. But this will not happen at the moment.”

The initial snub came against the backdrop of rising tension between London and Beijing on issues ranging from concerns over use of technology from Chinese firms to purported abuses in Xinjiang.

Wang, who arrived in London on Sunday ahead of a reception of foreign dignitaries hosted by King Charles at Buckingham Palace, appeared inside Westminster Hall just before 6pm BST (1am Hong Kong time) on Sunday.

Dressed in a dark Mao suit, he wore a face mask adorned with a small Chinese flag as he stood on a raised platform for dignitaries overlooking Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the parliamentary estate. Wang is expected to attend the queen’s state funeral on Monday.

A parliamentary spokesman confirmed Wang had attended the lying in state on Sunday, but declined further comment.

Dozens of foreign leaders and members of royalty visited the lying in state on Sunday, including US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain.

Last week, Conservative lawmakers Tim Loughton, Iain Duncan Smith and other MPs sanctioned by Beijing wrote to the Commons speaker and the foreign secretary, asking for them to rescind the invitation for Chinese officials to attend Monday’s funeral.

“Given that the United Kingdom Parliament has voted to recognise the genocide committed by the Chinese government against Uygur 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 (from the funeral),” Loughton and other MPs wrote in the letter.

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About 500 foreign leaders and dignitaries are expected to attend the state funeral on Monday at Westminster Abbey. It is the first state funeral in Britain since former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.

Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, Belarus, Myanmar and Venezuela are the only countries known not to receive invitations from the British government.

Thousands of members of the public also have queued for as much as 25 hours since Wednesday night for a chance to say one last goodbye to the queen, who was Britain’s longest-serving monarch.

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The queue has snaked along the south bank of the Thames more than 11km (6.9 miles) past landmarks, such as the London Eye and the Tate Modern museum, to Southwark Park.

Queen Elizabeth, who reigned for 70 years after her father’s death in 1952, died at Balmoral in Scotland on September 8 at the age of 96.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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