THE SPEAKER OF the UK House of Commons has reportedly banned any Chinese delegation that might attend the state funeral of the late Queen Elisabeth II from viewing her lying-in-state in Westminster Hall.
The hall is part of the parliamentary complex and is under the joint administration of Parliament and the Crown. The ban would not apply to the funeral itself on September 19. That will be held in Westminster Abbey, which is under the authority of the Crown alone.
The Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is understood to have refused a request for access to Westminster Hall over Chinese sanctions against five members of the House of Commons and two members of the House of Lords.
China imposed sanctions in 2021 on the seven parliamentarians and two others for accusing Beijing of mistreating Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Last September, Sir Lindsay told Zheng Zeguang, China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, that he could not come to Parliament because of Beijing’s sanctions, a ban decried by Beijing as ‘despicable and cowardly’.
The United Kingdom has not seen the death of its head of state for 70 years. However, the protocol would be to invite the heads of state of all countries with which London has diplomatic relations to attend the funeral.
There had been some discussion in London, however, whether President XiJinping should be invited given the present low state of bilateral relations, strained by concerns ranging from human rights in Xinjiang and Hong Kong to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While an invitation was issued, it was not expected that Xi would attend but that Bejing would send a delegation led by Vice-president Wang Qishan, who earlier this week signed the condolences book at the British embassy in Beijing.
On September 16, the foreign ministry said it was still deciding whether to send a delegation.
If one does attend the funeral, its members will pass under a statue of Wang Zhiming, a Christian pastor in Yunnan martyred during the Cultural Revolution. He is one of ten 20th-century Christian martyrs memorialized above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey.
The diplomatic tiff may presage a further deterioration of relations between London and Beijing. The new UK prime minister, Liz Truss, has signalled her intent to be more hawkish towards China than her predecessor Boris Johnson and may formally recognize the treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide.