LONDON — A visiting Chinese delegation has been allowed to see Queen Elizabeth II lying in state following a reversal by British parliamentary authorities.
Vice President Wang Qishan and three other Chinese government officials were invited to Westminster Hall, part of the Houses of Parliament, on Sunday afternoon.
POLITICO revealed on Thursday that Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, had turned down a request from Chinese government officials to attend the ceremony due to sanctions imposed by Beijing on seven British parliamentarians.
China’s ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, has been barred from parliament for a year because of sanctions China imposed on MPs and peers it accused of spreading ‘lies and disinformation’ about human rights violations in Xinjiang.
Access to Westminster Hall is not the sole jurisdiction of the Speaker of the House of Commons, but is shared with the Speaker of the Lords, John McFall, and the Lord Grand Chamberlain, who is appointed by the monarch. On Saturday, parliamentary authorities announced that the Chinese delegation would finally be allowed into state.
A spokesperson for Parliament said: “Heads of State (or their representatives) who have been invited to attend the State Funeral at Westminster Abbey are also invited to attend the interment at Westminster Hall. “
Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader who is among those sanctioned by Beijing, claimed on Saturday that the “establishment” had “leaned” on Hoyle to reverse his decision.
“The people who ultimately win are the Chinese Communist Party which is a brutal, dictatorial, anti-human rights organization and all we’ve done is give them another win,” Duncan said. Smith at the Telegraph.
Asked by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg whether he had indeed “leaned on” to change his decision, Hoyle replied: “I couldn’t say – no one leaned on me at all, far from it.”
He added: “My point of view remains the same, that we would not welcome parliament and that is why I have prevented the ambassador and the accredited Chinese from coming to the House of Commons… My point of view remains the same. Nothing has changed.”
But he said: “It’s not about politics right now – it’s about the grief we all share.”
The ban on the Chinese ambassador from entering parliament remains in effect.