Tom Tugendhat: the Chinese sent letters to my home

March 26, 2021
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Tom Tugendhat MP is Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and one of the five British MPs placed on a sanctions list yesterday by the Chinese Communist Party. He spoke to Freddie Sayers about what it means.

On the impact of sanctions on him personally

“It doesn’t affect me at all, really, because I have no interests in China, either personal or professional. So for me, it’s not significant. But what this is, is an attempt to intimidate British business people, intimidate British politicians and, by the way, intimidate many other people around the world. This is an attempt to bully and I hope it will be seen for exactly what it is.”

These are Chinese rights, not Western rights

“I think we need to stand up for human rights as set out by the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which is not a Western imposition. Those human rights were written by P.C. Chang, a Chinese diplomat. These are Chinese rights that we’re standing up for. And it’s quite something that the Chinese Communist Party is the organisation that is looking to condemn the Chinese citizenry to hardship and its non Chinese powers that are looking to stand up for the Chinese people.”

‘Guarding the guards’ over Covid restrictions

“I know the government got extra powers, which allow it to go until six months time, but it needs to lift them the moment that that is reasonable to do so which I hope, according to the government’s own timelines will be around the 21st of June. So I think that, you know, there is certainly a job of guarding the guards for members of parliament today and powerful speeches by people like Charles Walker yesterday, and and indeed many others on all sides of the house were very important to listen to, but I don’t think it’s quite the same parallel.”

On personal harassment by the Chinese state

“I’ve had letters sent to my home, which is a sort of a ‘we know where you live’ type of message by people in mainland China and friends of mine in agencies have been quite clear as to who they believe has done it. And I’ve had fake email addresses set up in my name and sent out messages to people like you often claiming all sorts of extraordinary and spurious claims… There’s absolutely no doubt that in a tyrannical state like China, these are not the actions of free citizens. These are the actions of the Chinese state. There’s no doubt about it at all. And speaking to internet providers, it’s absolutely clear, who has been doing it, there’s really no doubt at all.”

‘Minor irritation’

“The Chinese state has been doing this to its own people for 50 years — it’s hardly surprising that it’s now doing it to people it considers a nuisance overseas. The reality is that the Chinese government runs an extremely aggressive totalitarian regime with which it seeks to silence dissent. It has some of the largest numbers of people in prison, it has some of the highest capital punishment rates in the world, it executes in prisons in order to achieve its aims. And it intimidates in order to attempt to silence beforehand. And you know, the fact that I’m getting some minor irritation, it shouldn’t be here or there.”




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