Hong Kong protester beaten in grounds of China embassy ‘fears for his family’

Bob Chan said he was ‘shocked’ the attack happened in Britain

Thomas Kingsley
Wednesday 19 October 2022 19:53 BST
Bob Chan says he was dragged by masked men into the consulate
Bob Chan says he was dragged by masked men into the consulate (Screengrab )

A Hong Kong protestor who was beaten in the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester said he fears for his family.

Speaking at a news conference in London, Bob Chan described how he tried to defend himself as a group of men hit and attempted to drag him into the embassy gates before he was rescued by Manchester police.

He said he could not believe the attack could happen in the UK.

“I am shocked and hurt by this unprovoked attack. I'm shocked because I never thought something like this could happen in the UK. I still believe the UK is a place where free speech is a basic human right,” Mr Chan said.

Scuffles broke out outside the building on Sunday afternoon after 30 to 40 pro-democracy protesters gathered and put up posters.

Mr Chan had to be rescued by police after being dragged into the grounds of the consulate and beaten. The injured campaigner said that unidentified men had ripped down the posters before he was attacked.

UK police are not normally allowed to enter consulate grounds without permission. The properties fall under UK law, but staff who work there may have diplomatic immunity.

Mr Chan thanked the police officers who came to his aid during the attack where he said his hair was pulled and he was punched and kicked leaving him with bruises on his eyes, back and shoulders.

Describing the attack, Mr Chan said he tried to stop the men from taking his display before violence broke out.

“I held onto the gates where I was kicked and punched I could not hold on for long,” he said.

The moment a protester was attacked at the Chinese consulate
The moment a protester was attacked at the Chinese consulate (The Chaser News/AFP/Getty)

“It was then my hair was pulled and I felt punches and kicks from several men. Other protesters were trying to get me out of this situation but to no avail.

“The attack stopped when a man who turned out to be a uniformed officer from the Greater Manchester Police pulled me outside the gates.”

He added: “I was dragged into the consulate. I did not attempt to enter the consulate.”

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith hit out at the government’s “wholly inadequate” response, arguing they should have called in the ambassador for questioning immediately.

“The truth is they had to be dragged to the despatch box,” the MP said.

“We had to put an urgent question down to get them there.”

Foreign office minister Jesse Norman said the government was “extremely concerned at the apparent scenes of violence” at the consulate and had told the Chinese embassy of the need to allow people to protest peacefully.

A tussle can be seen inside Chinese consulate in Manchester
A tussle can be seen inside Chinese consulate in Manchester (Screengrab/Luke M)

Mr Norman told MPs that foreign secretary James Cleverly had summoned the Chinese charge d’affaires on Tuesday to demand an explanation for the consulate’s actions. He said the deputy ambassador “will meet with officials this afternoon”.

China’s ministry claimed the pro-democracy Hong Kong protester assaulted on the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester had illegally entered the premises.

The ministry said its diplomatic missions abroad have the right to “take necessary measures” to maintain security and rejected the protester’s account.

Wang Wenbin, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters on Tuesday: “What I want to stress is that the peace and dignity of Chinese embassies and consulates abroad must not be violated.”

Labour’s Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton, said he was “sickened that such an event took place in my own constituency”.

He added: “These scenes ... have no place on the streets of my city, or our country. The UK stands for freedom, the rule of law, and democracy. The quashing of peaceful protests will never be tolerated on British soil.”

The Chinese ambassador to the UK is believed to be out of the country.

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