British Fury Over China Attending Queen Elizabeth II's Funeral: 'An Insult'

A group of U.K. lawmakers have expressed anger that representatives of the Chinese government have been invited to attend the state funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been invited to attend but he's not expected to be present. However, Vice-President Wang Qishan is expected to come to the funeral in London's Westminster Abbey.

A group of seven lawmakers sent a letter to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Thursday calling for the invitation to Xi to be rescinded and strongly criticizing China for its treatment of the largely Muslim Uyghur community.

The signatories included former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Tim Loughton, a Conservative and chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee as well as Lord Alton, a crossbench peer, and the Labour Party's Baroness Kennedy.

Loughton called the invitation "an insult" in a statement to Newsweek on Friday.

Loughton also welcomed the fact Chinese officials have been barred from attending the late Elizabeth II's lying-in-state at Westminster

All the seven signatories have been sanctioned by China because of their criticism of the country's treatment of the Uyghurs. Last year, the House of Commons declared that a genocide was taking place against the Uyghurs.

China has denied allegations of abuse against the Uyghurs and said camps where the members of the majority Muslim community have been held are for "re-education" and combatting terrorism.

The British lawmakers wrote that they were "greatly concerned" that Chinese officials had been invited and noted that representatives from other countries, such as Russia and Myanmar, had not been invited to attend.

"Given that the United Kingdom Parliament has voted to recognize the genocide committed by the Chinese government against the Uyghur people it is extraordinary that the architects of that genocide should be treated in any more favorable way than those countries who have been barred," they wrote.

The letter went on: "I hope you will agree that it would be wholly inappropriate that any representative of the Chinese government should be able to attend such an important occasion as the state funeral of our late monarch and that you can give us your assurance that the invitation will be immediately withdrawn."

Loughton told Newsweek: "Given the unanimous vote in the United Kingdom House of Commons recognizing human rights atrocities by the Chinese government as genocide it is bizarre that the UK government should be extending a welcome to Chinese leaders to attend the state funeral on the same basis as the representatives of the vast majority of other countries who are able to recognize and abide by the international rule of law."

"We should not be rolling out the red carpet for a regime that has been exposed for committing genocidal acts and continues its industrial-scale human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and increasingly against the people of Hong Kong with their close ties to Britain," Loughton said.

"Inviting the Chinese government is an insult to the memory of the Queen and should be rescinded immediately," he continued. "The government of China should be on the same banned list as the likes of Russia, Belarus and Myanmar."

"Those sanctioned parliamentarians, including me, particularly welcome to swift action of the Speaker of the Commons in confirming that the ban put in place to prevent the Chinese ambassador coming to the Palace of Westminster still applies to him and any other Chinese government officials during the lying-in-state and beyond whilst the sanctions against British parliamentarians remain in place," Loughton said.

The Embassy of China in London told Newsweek on Friday: "The state funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is an important activity of the UK. Foreign delegations attend the activities at the invitation of the UK side to show respect to the late Queen and the people of the UK. As the host, the UK side should be familiar with diplomatic protocols and proper manners of receiving guests."

The lawmakers also sent their letter to the speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords and pointed to the sanctions and the fact that the Chinese ambassador to the U.K. was told last year he could not visit parliament following the imposition of the sanctions.

The funeral will take place on Monday at Westminster Abbey and Chinese officials are expected to attend unless their invitations are rescinded. A large number of foreign dignitaries will be attending, including President Joe Biden.

President Xi Jinping  and Queen of England
In this combination image, China's President Xi Jinping gives a speech following a swearing-in ceremony to inaugurate the city's new leader and government in Hong Kong on July 1, 2022 and The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the royal standard and surmounted by the imperial state crown, is laid out in Westminster Hall, September, 2022. Lawmakers have expressed anger at Chinese officials attending the funeral. Getty