CHINA / DIPLOMACY
UK MP long been anti-China; sanction ‘completely necessary’
Pretending to be honorary professor of Chinese uni, ‘supervising’ elections in HK
Published: Apr 01, 2021 11:13 PM
David Alton  File photo

David Alton File photo



China's sanction of David Alton, a notorious anti-China political figure in the UK, is completely necessary, Chinese international relations scholars said, as he used his status as a member of the House of Lords to push for the decoupling of China and Britain, which is detrimental to both China-British relations and Britain's own interests in the long run.

David Alton was listed among the sanctioned individuals in China's response on March 26 to the UK's unilateral move to sanction Chinese individuals over the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang.

"Supervising" Hong Kong's elections, exerting pressure on a UK university to strip a pro-establishment Hong Kong politician of his degree, retaining invalid professor title, interfering with China's internal affairs, even starting an anti-China "alliance"… Alton has done them all.

Proposing and promoting anti-China amendments in the UK House of Lords has recently garnered wide political attention for him. Nonetheless, this is not the first time that the parliament member hyped anti-China topics to make a fuss. 

Alton is a crossbench peer at the UK House of Lords. In January, Alton influenced the Lords to pass an amendment to the Trade Act 2021 that would require the UK not to trade with China, which he called a "genocidal regime."

Dubbed as "the Alton Amendment," it intends to prohibit trade between the UK and countries that it believes "commit acts of genocide," which is widely regarded by politicians and media as targeting China, as Alton is notorious for repeatedly accusing China of "committing genocide" without evidence.

The British government opposes this amendment. UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said that whether a country has committed genocide is best resolved by competent courts, not governments or non-judicial bodies. 

Although the Lords said yes to the proposal, the government decided to take the decision to the House of Commons, where it was hit by consecutive rebuffs. On March 22, the amendment was again rejected by the House of Commons by a vote of 318 to 300, amid persistent opposition from the British government. 

Despite the amendment being repeatedly rejected by the House of Commons and opposed by the British government, some media pointed out that as it was repeatedly considered between the two houses, it has "gained more momentum."

Before promoting the anti-China amendment in the UK parliament with great fanfare, Alton became the founding member of a so-called "Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China." The "alliance" was formed in June 2020 by parliament members of eight countries including the US, the UK and Germany, in order to "counteract to the threat to global trade and security posed by China's growing influence." The group is represented by none other than anti-China vanguard Marco Rubio, a US Republican congressman who has been sanctioned by China over repeated provocative behaviors.

The 70-years-old Alton has long been biased against China, repeatedly accusing China on issues related to Xinjiang and Hong Kong. On Twitter, Alton constantly promoted distorted reports concerning "the human rights problem in Xinjiang and Hong Kong," inciting the regions' secession from China. 

Alton was one of more than 130 British MPs who wrote a letter to former Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming in September 2020, smearing the Chinese government's Xinjiang policy. A few days earlier on March 25, he reposted a false BBC report on the H&M incident on his Twitter account.

In 2019, he went to Hong Kong to "supervise" the District Council elections, trying to interfere in China's internal affairs, while claiming that he should bring Joshua Wong, Hong Kong's head secessionist, his Westminster Award for Human Rights, Human Life and Human Dignify.

In the same year, Hong Kong lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu was stripped of an honorary law degree by Anglia Ruskin University, his alma mater in Britain, after groundless accusations by Alton. The university revoked Ho's honorary degree without conducting investigations. 

Sarcastically, however, Alton has no standards whatsoever when it comes to honorary titles of universities for himself. In September 2012, the foreign co-sponsor of Yanbian University of Science and Technology, which is affiliated to Yanbian University, appointed Alton as the school's honorary professor without the consent of Yanbian University. The title that Alton himself has been using for hype has in fact been explicitly declared invalid by Yanbian University several times.

On January 18, the university issued a statement on its official website regarding the non-recognition of Alton's so-called "Honorary Professor" title, requesting him to immediately remove the title from his personal website, and to stop referring to himself with the title in any way. However, the title has not been removed from his personal website as of press time. 

Experts noted to the Global Times that Alton is only one of a very small number of anti-China lawmakers in the British Parliament, rooted in long-standing stereotypes and prejudices against China.

"Anti-Chinese MPs like Alton are only a tiny minority in the British Parliament and are contrary to the overall direction of the current UK government's policy toward China," Ruan Zongze, executive vice president and senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies told the Global Times on Wednesday. "That is also directly reflected in the British government's veto of his anti-Chinese amendment," he said. 

Although such voices are a tiny minority, they are a serious threat to China-British relations and China's national image, therefore, an active counterattack is necessary, Ruan said on China's recent counter-sanction.

"In the long run, I don't think this sanction will stir up further anti-China sentiment in the British Parliament or with the public," Ruan noted. "At best, it will receive support from some of the anti-China forces that have been there all along, while policymakers and the public will see that these smears against China are untrue."

Especially after Brexit, the UK is relying more and more on trade with China, and the British government would never fall to Alton's biased political views, which only damage the interests of the UK, Ruan said. 


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