UK police enter Chinese consulate in Manchester to rescue protester dragged inside and beaten by staff

Hong Kong demonstrator left with ‘bruises on neck and back’ as incident appears likely to spark diplomatic fallout

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 17 October 2022 08:30 BST
Hong Kong protester 'beaten up' at Chinese consulate in UK

A pro-democracy Hong Kong protester was dragged inside the Chinese consulate in Manchester and assaulted, prompting British police officers to enter the compound and rescue him.

A group of demonstrators were staging a protest outside the Chinese consulate general in Rusholme on Sunday afternoon against the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, when unidentifed men appeared out of the building and began clashing with the protesters.

Video footage shared widely on social media showed people from the consulate kicking and tearing down posters before engaging in a scuffle with demonstrators.

Prior to the clashes, the consulate staff had reportedly asked the protesters to move to the opposite side of the street, but they refused.

Minutes later, a number of men wearing masks and protective vests walked out of the consulate and began destroying posters, before walking away with a satirical portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping.

When the protesters tried to stop them, a scuffle broke out, forcing the police to intervene.

One of the demonstrators, so far identified only as Bob in media reports, was dragged inside the consulate compound where he was repeatedly pummelled by the unidentified men, video of the incident showed. At least one police officer then entered the consulate grounds and pulled out the protester.

Bob, speaking on camera with visible injuries to his face, said he was horrified by the way he was attacked. "After I was pulled in, I was punched and kicked. I had scars on my face, bleeding and swelling," he told Voice of America.

"Hair was pulled from my head... swollen and bruised. I had bruises on my neck and back, and my waist was a little sore."

Some speculated that a grey-haired, masked man seen kicking posters in a video is the Chinese consul general Zheng Xiyuan, though this has not been confirmed. The grey-haired man is shown on camera standing and watching as Bob is being beaten.

Greater Manchester Police said they have started an investigation into the violence and a police patrol remains in place in the area.

Former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith said the British government should demand an apology from Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang. "This is deeply worrying," he added.

Sharing the footage, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne asked the government to investigate the incident. “This would be unacceptable on the streets of Hong Kong and against the provisions of the Joint Declaration to uphold democratic rights and freedoms. But this is Manchester,” he wrote.

Rusholme councillor Rabnawaz Akbar added: “This is unacceptable on the streets of Rusholme and Manchester.”

A spokesperson for the consulate told BBC that the protesters had "hung an insulting portrait of the Chinese president at the main entrance".

"This would be intolerable and unacceptable for any diplomatic and consular missions of any country. Therefore, we condemn this deplorable act with strong indignation and firm opposition," the spokesperson added.

Trafford Hongkongers CIC, a local business group, expressed deep concern over Sunday’s incident.

"We can see from the video clip that a Chinese Consulate staff member is trying to destroy private properties of the peaceful Hongkonger protesters.

"What’s more? We see from the video clip that Hongkongers were kidnapped into the Chinese Consulate areas by members of Chinese Consulate staff.

"We believe Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and our Foreign Secretary James Cleverly MP must inquire with the Chinese Consulate why it could happen in Manchester today."

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