The incident sparked an outcry in the UK, and undermined the country’s diplomatic relations with China. Almost two months after the violent attack on a pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong, six diplomats from the Chinese consulate in Manchester (northern England) have left the United Kingdom, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly announced on Wednesday December 14.
“The violence committed at the Chinese consulate in Manchester is unacceptable”, tweeted Mr. Cleverly. On October 16, the day on which the Communist Party congress opened in parallel with Beijing, an authorized demonstration was held in front of the Chinese consulate in Manchester. It brings together activists for democracy in Hong Kong, opposed to Beijing’s takeover of this formerly British Chinese territory, which has long enjoyed freedoms unmatched elsewhere in China.
Quickly, videos circulate on social networks showing individuals leaving the consulate to destroy the banners of pro-democracy demonstrators. Violent altercations ensue and, in footage, a protester is seen on the ground receiving beatings in the diplomatic compound after he was visibly dragged there.
British police are investigating an assault on a protester who was beaten by several men after being dragged inside… https://t.co/tNwYyPKQiH
Beijing called to order
The United Kingdom had curtly called Beijing to order on the right to demonstrate on British soil, while China questioned “troublemakers” entered “illegally” within the confines of this consulate. As part of the investigation, Manchester Police “asked for the diplomatic immunity of six Chinese officials to be lifted so that they could be questioned”explained Mr. Cleverly, adding that he had given a deadline to China which expired on Wednesday. “In response to our request, the Chinese government has now removed these officials, including the Consul General himself, from the UK”he added.
London claimed two weeks ago that ” Golden age “ with Beijing was over. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak then felt that China represented “a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows ever more dire as the country moves towards even greater authoritarianism”.