Liu Xiaoming, China’s Ambassador to the UK, wrote to the mayor of Tower Hamlets last month explicitly linking the two projects and outlining his ‘grave concern’ at local opposition ‘under the excuse of Xinjiang [home of Uighur Muslims] and Hong Kong related issues’.
China is seeking to build what would be its biggest embassy in the West on the site of the old Royal Mint while the UK is seeking to update its Beijing office to ‘make it both fit for purpose and meet the scale of ministerial ambitions in China’.
Liu Xiaoming (pictured above, during a news conference in August 2019), China’s Ambassador to the UK, wrote to the mayor of Tower Hamlets last month explicitly linking the two projects
In a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, Mr Liu told Mayor John Biggs: ‘It is hoped that Tower Hamlets Council will respect the agreement reached between the Chinese and UK governments, resist disruptions and foster sound conditions for the building of the new embassies in our respective embassies.’
China bought the Royal Mint Court for £250 million two years ago. But its crackdown on Hong Kong and its persecution of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang have led to opposition to the embassy plan in Tower Hamlets which is 38 per cent Muslim.
It is also home to Cable Street where a march in 1936 by Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts was famously turned back by locals.
‘If the Chinese Communist Party fails to stop their persecution of the Uighur Muslims, Tibetans and people of Hong Kong, they may find there will be a traditional East End welcome for them when they do move in,’ said Tory councillor Peter Golds.
Mr Liu told Mayor John Biggs (pictured): ‘It is hoped that Tower Hamlets Council will respect the agreement reached between the Chinese and UK governments’
Liberal Democrat councillor Rabina Khan said: ‘East Enders will not stand by and let this issue pass just as those who have lived here before us stood firm in Cable Street.’
This week, a public consultation begins on the scheme.
In a statement, the Mayor’s office said: ‘I and many in our community are very concerned about China’s human rights record on a number of issues, in particular the appalling treatment of the largely Muslim Uighurs.
‘It’s right that the Chinese government are challenged on this and that we should do what we can to raise this issue.’