Rejection of plan for super-embassy in London setback for China’s overseas operations

A decision by local officials not to allow China to build a “super-embassy” on the site of a historic building in east London is a major setback for the Chinese Communist Party’s overseas influence operations, the media reported.

Development officials at London’s Tower Hamlets borough council voted unanimously on December 1 to reject an application for planning permission for the new Chinese embassy on the former Royal Mint site, citing security fears, as well as the potential impact on tourism, policing and heritage, RFA reported.

The Strategic Development Committee said the plan, which included dormitories accommodating hundreds of employees and a landmark “cultural exchange” building, had attracted dozens of objections from residents of the surrounding area, which is home to a large Muslim community, RFA reported.

The plan was also opposed to by groups representing Hong Kongers in the U.K., who have been attacked both by pro-China thugs and by consular officials on British soils, and Uyghurs, who face security risks from Beijing’s overseas policing and infiltration, which include unofficial renditions of government critics, often by using loved ones back home as leverage.

The decision came as Canada became the latest country to investigate unofficial Chinese police “service stations” on its soil.

Senior Canadian foreign ministry official Weldon Epp told a parliamentary committee last week that Global Affairs had summoned the Chinese ambassador “multiple times” over the service centres, which have been reported by the Spanish-based rights group Safeguard Defenders in dozens of countries, RFA reported.

British Uyghur rights activist Rahima Mahmut, who heads the group Stop Uyghur Genocide, said Muslims in Tower Hamlets were angry at the plan to relocate the Chinese embassy to their backyard, while other residents were fearful of the impact of frequent demonstrations against China’s rights abuses.

“Just because you have a lot of money, doesn’t mean you can do anything,” Mahmut told RFA.

“Particularly in the U.K., which is a country where human rights are respected, and where the voice of the people, their wishes and requirements are taken extremely seriously.”




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