By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Mar. 22: Tibet Hill, Uyghur Court and Tiananmen Square have reportedly been considered by a council as new names for roads around the relocated Chinese Embassy in east London. The Tower Hamlets Council on Wednesday approved a motion to support renaming buildings and roads in the surrounding area, which also includes Hong Kong Road and Hong Kong Square; the list of names has been subject to various motions since September.
China bought the former Royal Mint building in the borough in 2018 and now plans to turn the land into its largest embassy in Europe. The Liberal Democrat councilor Rabina Khan who wrote and proposed the resolution and motion on Wednesday said, “It’s really important that we call out the Chinese Communist Party’s activities and human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims, and also call out what they’re doing in Tibet.
“We have a rich history with China, and we’re proud they have chosen our borough for the Embassy, but at the same time we’ve got to stand our ground. I’ve got a couple of residents who live on Cable Street in my ward, and it’s the Jewish community leading the fight against what’s happening to the Uyghur Muslims.”
The repression of Uyghur community is particularly sensitive for Tower Hamlets, which has the highest proportion of Muslim residents (38%) of any borough. The motion states, “This council resolves that Tower Hamlets council investigates whether roads or possibly new buildings near the location of the proposed Chinese embassy could be renamed appropriately as acts of solidarity with historic symbols or place names of Chinese significance; for example Tiananmen Square, Tibet Hill, Uyghur Court, Hong Kong Road and/or Xiaobo Road (in memory of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo).”
Pema Yoko from the Tibetan Community in Britain said, “We feel that this is vital and we’re excited to hear they’ve agreed to look at the name changes. We want to make sure Tower Hamlets stands on the right side of history.”