From the grave Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II managed to deal Xi Jinping a double “blow”. Today’s news reveals that the speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, denied a Chinese government delegation permission to visit the late Queen’s laying in state at Westminster Hall.
This decision was made by Hoyle in view of the sanctions imposed in 2021 by China on five MPs and two members of the House of Lords for accusing the Chinese government of repressing Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
As a result of Beijing’s punitive measures, the Chinese ambassador in London is barred from entering Parliament. Two of the seven sanctioned British politicians, former ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton, asked the Foreign Office to also withdraw its invitation to Xi to attend the Queen’s funeral. Duncan Smith and Loughton said that one cannot have normal relations with a country that oppresses Uyghurs, Tibetans and the Hong Kong population.
The hardest ‘royal’ blow for Xi, however, came in the past few days when thousands of citizens of the former British colony came to the British Consulate to pay their respects to Elizabeth II. Many braved the stifling heat to sign the condolence register and leave a wreath.
Some of them expressed nostalgia for the British colonial past: for the past two years, the city authorities and Beijing have been systematically suppressing dissent. Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom for 150 years, until 1997 when it returned under Chinese sovereignty.
Residents recall that the British administration did not grant them universal suffrage, but recognise that thanks to London, the city became one of the world’s most important financial centres. The colonial era guaranteed respect for human rights and equality before the law, traces of which are hard to find today.
For those who wanted to participate in the mourning, commemorating the past is not a crime, reports the Hong Kong Free Press. The pro-Beijing establishment does not think so. The Ta Kung Wen Hui, a publication linked to the Chinese Communist Party, wrote an article on 13 September criticising those who paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth, pointing out that further efforts are needed to erase ‘the colonial mentality’ from the minds of Hong Kong citizens.