Tories call to axe Chinese diplomats amid protest response

Raab: Sunak appoints lawyer to investigate bullying claims

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Footage from the protests have showed citizens holding blank pieces of paper to demonstrate how they are silenced by officials. Others have been seen chanting “lift the lockdown” while the security officials “crack down” against what they call “hostile forces” as people in hazmat suits manhandle protestors.

The protests were sparked by a fire in Urumqi where ten people died in what is believed to be linked to China’s draconian lockdown rules in the area.

Following the heavy-handed reaction to the protests on Sunday which saw citizens man-handled and threatened, Tory MPs have pushed Downing Street to “get serious” and expel Chinese diplomats.

Jacob Rees-Mogg aims to take a defiant stance against China and show that the UK is not a “pushover”.

On Tuesday, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang was given a telling off at the Foreign Office following the arrest of BBC journalist Ed Lawrence.

Mr Lawrence was beaten and detained while attempting to cover Sunday’s protests which the Foreign Office called “completely unacceptable”.

Ress-Mogg said: “I wonder what effect calling the ambassador in has, and whether more doesn’t need to be done urgently that actually has an effect on the Chinese operation in the UK.

“Should we not be looking to expel diplomats, to take tougher action in international forums where Chinese interests are at stake, to do things that the Chinese would not want us to do, like improving our relationship with Taiwan or inviting the Dalai Lama on a formal visit by the British Government so that we show that we are not a pushover, we are not going to support the communist running dogs?”

Foreign Office minister David Rutley responded: “This calling in today – these issues will be raised in a very robust manner.

“Of course, safety of our citizens is absolutely key across the world and in China as well.”

Rishi Sunak has been criticised by MPs for his comments over China in which he said that the UK would tackle world challenges with “robust pragmatism” and that the “golden era” of relations is over.

Sunak was criticised by the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton, who said: “We have had an awful lot of calling in the Chinese ambassador.

“If robust pragmatism is to mean anything, should there not be clear consequences?

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“We still have not expelled the Manchester consulate general. There should be other sanctions against other Chinese officials waging seriously cruel oppression on those brave protesters who are simply trying to stand up for their rights in China and against the oppressive lockdown which has already resulted in the deaths of 100 people from a fire in Wuhan last week. When are we going to get serious about China?”

Meanwhile, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader said: “There is an endless litany now of China’s bad behaviour and I simply raise this particular question with him [Sunak] – how is it yesterday the Prime Minister, who previously said that China posted a ‘systemic threat’, has now moved to a ‘systemic challenge’ and that our strongest policy statement now in terms of our reputation and relationship with China is that we are going to be ‘robustly pragmatic’?

“Could he please explain to me how ‘robustly pragmatic’ will worry the Chinese any one bit?”

Mr Rutley said that Mr Sunak was giving a synchronized response to China’s impact and that the Prime Minister will be reconsidering alliances and reviewing the capabilities needed to respond to China’s actions as part of its foreign policy.

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