Djibouti’s Alleged Vassal Status to China Highlighted as British MP Tim Loughton Detained and Deported

By Tsering Choephel

Tim Loughton, an MP and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet, is seen speaking at the 61st Anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising Day.

DHARAMSALA, 1 May: Tim Loughton, a member of the British parliament, called Djibouti, an East African country, “a vassal state of China” following his detention and deportation shortly after his arrival in the country on 8 April, according to several online reports.

Loughton arrived in Djibouti from Somaliland for a 24-hour visit to meet the British Ambassador to the country. Upon learning of Loughton’s status, airport officials detained him for over three hours without providing explanations. “I politely explained that I would be in the country for barely 24 hours, and was being picked up at the airport by a tour guide… But as soon as I revealed I was a British MP, and my passport was checked, things turned decidedly frosty,” he reportedly told the Daily Telegraph. 

“They gave me no reason. I kept saying: ‘Why?’ and they could not tell me… In short, it was a highly intimidating and very lonely experience in a very strange country.” Loughton stated that the incident was “no accident but instead a direct consequence of being one of the seven British parliamentarians sanctioned by China now over three years ago”. 

Loughton is vocal and active in criticism of the Chinese Communist government’s large-scale abuse of human rights in Tibet, East Turkestan, and Hong Kong. His key roles in organisations such as the All-Part Parliamentary Group on Tibet, Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and as a sponsor of the Reciprocal Access Bill in the House of Commons in 2019 which requires the UK Government to take measures against Chinese officials denying access to Tibet, Loughton has become a target of CCP. He is one of several MPs that China, in 2021 imposed sanctions on for what it called “lies and disinformation” about the country, according to a BBC report.

“Djibouti is effectively a vassal state of China – what China wants, Djibouti kowtows to and having a troublesome MP who has been sanctioned by China turning up on their doorstep was clearly something they didn’t want to entertain,” he said. he said. Expressing deep concern about the extended and entrenched control of the CCP, Loughton highlighted the seriousness of Beijing’s intimidation tactics, saying “Yet the intimidation of countless others who have dared to speak out against China’s industrial scale human rights abuses and who do not have the platform of an MP raises serious concerns.”

According to many reports, Djibouti has received billions of dollars in investment from China. At a naval base that China has built in Africa’s smallest nation, 2000 of its troops are stationed there. In a patterned strategy of China using its economic power in many countries, such as Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, among others, Djibouti too is being made to “kowtow” to CCP’s wants and needs. 

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