Tiananmen Square, Uyghur Court, Hong Kong Rd, all new names considered for streets surrounding UK Chinese embassy

Londoners have protested against China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
Londoners have protested against China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims. Photo credit: Getty Images

London councillors have voted to consider renaming streets surrounding the new Chinese embassy as Tiananmen Square, Uyghur Court, Hong Kong Rd, and Tibet Hill, in an act of solidarity. 

According to the Guardian, Councillors in Tower Hamlets made the move to consider these names to assert "support for the freedom and diversity of our borough," - standing by those suffering human rights violations at the hands of China. 

The Chinese embassy made the decision to relocate from West London to Tower Hamlets in 2018.  Tower Hamlets is an East London suburb which has a high rate of poverty and a large Muslim population.

While at the handing over ceremony for the site in 2018 the Chinese ambassador declared it would "write a new chapter for a China-UK golden era" - the new names are likely to anger the Chinese government. 

Councillors said while they welcomed the relocation of the embassy they "must continue to make clear" where their "own standards and principles apply."

Tower Hamlets has the highest Muslim population of any London borough at 38 percent, meaning they are particularly conscious of the repression of Uighur Muslims in China.  

The motion to consider changing the names was passed after a long campaign encouraging Tower Hamlet's leaders to issue a statement condemning human rights abuses in China. 

"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," the motion reads.

It then gives the examples of; Tiananmen Square, Tibet Hill, Uyghur Court, Hong Kong Road or Xiaobo Road (in memory of Liu Xiaobo). 

Xiaobo was an activist who was involved with campaigning to end the communist one-party rule in China, he died in Chinese custody in 2017. 

The Guardian reports that in 2018 the China's ambassador Liu Xiaoming said the embassy would be a "new landmark" for London. In the time since the country has encountered criticism for human rights issues such as the detaining of millions of Uighur Muslims and clamping down on Hong Kong's autonomy. 

The council maintains the names will be changed at no financial cost.

The Chinese embassy told the Guardian in a previous statement that people should "stop using human rights as an excuse to interfere in China's internal affairs." The embassy said the Building will be a new step in symbolising a "robust relationship" between the UK and China.