Foreign AffairsSpeeches

Iain Duncan Smith – 2022 Speech on the Role of the Chinese Consul General

The speech made by Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative MP for Chingford and Woodfood Green, in the House of Commons on 20 October 2022.

Mr Speaker, I am grateful to you for granting this urgent question, which follows Tuesday’s urgent question secured by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns).

It is worth reminding the House of what happened in the Chinese consulate’s grounds on Sunday, where there was an appalling attack on a peaceful protester. We saw appalling videos of Bob Chan being dragged into the consulate’s grounds and seriously abused, and it now appears that the consul general played a part in that physical attack.

Mr Chan is a Hong Kong refugee whom we have welcomed over here. I and others on both sides of the House are working together to help people get out of Hong Kong, and that community now feels very frightened by what the Chinese Government’s representatives are doing in the UK. Mr Chan gave a statement to the media for the first time yesterday. His wife and child were in the room, and it was a very moving statement. He spoke of how badly bruised and damaged he is, and how frightened he is. I thought it was very brave of him, because he now fears being targeted by the Chinese Communist party here in the United Kingdom.

Overnight, we discovered that the consul general has admitted that not only did he take part in the attack but that he was responsible for, in his own words, pulling Mr Chan’s hair and tearing his scalp. That is the consul general, let alone the others who were there.

I have worked with the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and others in this House to help Hong Kong refugees, and I credit the Government for their work to get those with British national overseas passports over here. I now urge the Government to be much clearer than just using diplomatic language; I urge them to make it clear, in the light of this new evidence, that it is not just unacceptable that any consular individual should have taken part in anything like this, but that any consular individual who is proved to have been a perpetrator of this outrageous and violent attack on Mr Chan will immediately be made persona non grata and sent back to China. The Government have the diplomatic power to dismiss them. Whether or not there are criminal proceedings, the fact is we do not want them here in the UK and they must go.

I urge my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to come to the Dispatch Box and show the resolution that is necessary to send that message to China. He should ignore what other people and officials might say about being careful of tit for tat, get to the Dispatch Box and simply say, “They will leave the United Kingdom. Anyone involved in that attack is not welcome, and the ambassador will be informed of that forthwith.”