Chinese vice president Wang Qishan will attend the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as the special representative of Chinese president Xi Jinping, officials have announced.
Mr Wang, who is close to Mr Xi, was a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee from 2012 to 2017.
During those years, he led a crackdown on corruption that has been one of Mr Xi’s signature initiatives as China’s leader.
The Queen’s children hold a Vigil beside Her Majesty’s coffin in Westminster Hall, London. pic.twitter.com/Nch9a1LGUs
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 16, 2022
Mr Wang was named to the largely ceremonial post of vice president in 2018 and often attends events on Mr Xi’s behalf.
A group of British MPs sanctioned by China have expressed concern that the Chinese government has been invited to the funeral.
They told the BBC the invitation should be rescinded because of human rights abuses in the treatment of the Uighur ethnic group in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang.
Meanwhile, Japanese emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are travelling to Britain to pay their respects to the late queen, and to the wider British royal family who are considered as a model for Japan’s monarchy in modern history.
The decision for the emperor and empress to attend the queen’s funeral underlines the importance and the deep bond between the royal families.
Traditionally, a Japanese emperor stays away from funerals except for those of their own parents because of a cultural belief based in the Shinto religion that considers death impure.
Former emperor Akihito, as crown prince, attended the queen’s 1953 coronation and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The queen visited Japan in 1975.
Naruhito and Masako’s trip to Britain is their first as the emperor and empress.
The queen’s invitation for them to visit following Naruhito’s 2019 ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne had to be postponed due to the pandemic.