The United Kingdom banned China's ambassador from Parliament in response to Beijing placing sanctions on MPs who spoke up about its treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province, the BBC reports.
Ambassador Zheng Zeguang was prevented from joining the British Parliament by Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, and John McFall, the speaker of the House of Lords.
"I do not feel it's appropriate for the ambassador for China to meet on the Commons estate and in our place of work when his country has imposed sanctions against some of our members," Hoyle said.
A Chinese embassy criticised the move. "The despicable and cowardly action of certain individuals of the UK Parliament to obstruct normal exchanges and cooperation between China and the UK for personal political gains is against the wishes and harmful to the interests of the peoples of both countries," a Chinese statement said.
China has come under increased criticism as a result of its treatment of Uyghur Muslims. In August 2018, a United Nations Human Rights Committee reported that China is holding nearly one million Uyghur Muslims in secret "reeducation" camps in East Turkestan. Many return to their families weak, unable to walk and talk and showing signs of abuse.