The Liberal Democrats’ new candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster constituency has launched an attack on the City of London Corporation’s “weakness towards the Chinese Communist Party”.
Edward Lucas, a veteran journalist, said the powerful Square Mile local authority “don’t get the threat” from China.
The Corporation, which is based in the historic Guildhall building, has strong China links, including offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
It has previously come under fire for its attitude to China, with the authority’s policy and resources chair Catherine McGuinness telling City A.M. this year that it was “not our place” to criticise the country’s ethnic cleansing campaign against Uyghur Muslims.
She also said the Corporation could not get involved in international politics, despite the fact that she regularly hosts heads of foreign governments in Guidlhall and Mansion House.
However, Lucas said there has been a pattern “of weakness towards the Chinese Communist Party” and that its unwillingness to take a stance on Beijing’s human rights abuses is “reprehensible”.
“The City of London and the people who run it got rich on the basis of their brains and hard work, but also the fact that it is a safe and free place to do business,” he said.
“They should remember that and not kowtow to people trying to attack those values.”
The Corporation did vote last year to censure the Chinese government for imposing draconian security laws that clamped down on freedom of speech in Hong Kong and to also welcome the 2.9m Hong Kongers offered British visas by the UK government.
McGuinness – along with Lord Mayor William Russell – voted against the motion, saying she would not censure Beijing as “China is an important market for UK financial and related professional services”.
Lucas also took aim at the City for its alleged treatment of Taiwanese officials in the UK.
In 2019 it was widely reported that Taiwanese representatives were not invited to the Lord Mayor’s show, an annual parade dating back to the 16th century, a decision Lucas branded as “outrageous”.
A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “The Lord Mayor’s Show is the biggest and most colourful event in the City’s calendar.
“It is not a political event. It is a family-orientated day out, aimed at welcoming the new Lord Mayor into office.”