Chinese Vice President's attendance at Queen's funeral 'a positive signal' for China-UK relations
Published: Sep 18, 2022 10:05 PM
On September 12, 2022, Vice President Wang Qishan visited the British?Embassy in China to extend condolences over the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo:

On September 12, 2022, Vice President Wang Qishan visited the British Embassy in China to extend condolences over the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo:

Chinese President Xi Jinping's Special Representative Wang Qishan, who is also Chinese Vice President, will attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II at the invitation of the UK government, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday. 

Chinese observers on China-UK relations consider it a positive signal for bilateral ties despite the difficulties the two countries have encountered in recent years due to disruption from the US and anti-China figures inside the UK government. They said the British side should respect this mark of diplomatic protocol and cherish China's goodwill gesture, which could play a positive role in maintaining normal China-UK relations in a long run. 

Around 500 foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday, including US President Joe Biden, members of royal families from across Europe and other countries, and leaders of Commonwealth nations, NBC News reported on Saturday. The queen is lying in state at the Palace of Westminster to allow members of the public to pay their respects, and on Monday morning, her coffin will be moved to the church for the state funeral service, which is scheduled to begin at 6 am UK time, according to media reports. 

Vice President Wang, Xi's Special Representative, will attend the funeral, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning announced on Saturday.

Sending a vice president to the funeral is in line with diplomatic protocol, showing that China attaches great importance to China-UK relations, Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"It also reflects our diplomatic tradition as a big country, and we won't lose our diplomatic protocol because certain lawmakers or politicians point fingers at us or because China-UK relations have encountered some problems in the short term," he said. 

Xi senton September 9 a message of condolence to new monarch King Charles III of the UK over the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. In his message, Xi said Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has won wide acclaim. 

The Chinese public also expressed their condolences over the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the first British monarch to visit China. The Queen visited China in 1986 after China-UK negotiations over Hong Kong's return to the motherland, and she also witnessed and promoted the development of China-UK relations. 

Vice President Wang visited the British Embassy in China on September 12 to extend China's condolences over the passing of the Queen, hailing her as a promoter and contributor to bilateral relations. He also expressed the hope that the UK side will take a strategic and long-term perspective, and work with the Chinese side to strengthen dialogue and exchanges, advance mutually beneficial cooperation and jointly meet challenges, so as to ensure sound and steady development of bilateral relations.

"As the Queen retains a special image and status in British politics and in the international community, that the Chinese government sends a high-level delegation to the funeral reflects the connection between the two countries, especially in the people-to-people side," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

In fact, it is a sign that China still hopes for a better foundation and greater space for China-UK relations, and that current divergences and conflicts in politics should not become severe enough to shake that foundation of bilateral ties or the people-to-people ties, Cui noted. "However, those divergences can't just be resolved at once because of attending [the funeral]," he said. 

Some British lawmakers have used the funeral as an occasion to slander China over human rights issues, as some MPs said they were assured by the Commons Speaker that a Chinese delegation would not be welcome in Westminster Hall to pay respects to the Queen after China imposed sanctions on nine UK individuals and four entities for having spread lies and rumors about China's Xinjiang region, according to media reports. 

On Saturday, a spokesperson from the Chinese Embassy in the UK slammed the behavior of those British parliamentarians by using the solemn occasion of the funeral for their anti-China hype and provocation as being extremely disrespectful to the late Queen, according to a statement the embassy sent to the Global Times. 

Some British MPs have been playing a negative role in China-UK relations in recent years and now they have tried to kidnap the British royal family to achieve their political goals, which could lead to some "shameful behaviors" that mainstream public opinion and the UK government should reject, Cui noted. 

In addition to the State Funeral, the Chinese delegation will also attend a number of events related to official ceremonies, with the first starting on September 14. Invitees decide on which events to attend based on their respective schedules, according to the embassy.

"On the occasion of the funeral, such political hype just made those politicians lose their diplomatic protocol, which is not only disrespectful to China but also disrespectful to the late Queen," Wang said.