After strong reactions in the United Kingdom, London summoned a senior Chinese diplomat on Tuesday (October 18th) to demand an explanation for the violent attack suffered by a protester at the Chinese consulate in Manchester.
An authorized demonstration was held in front of the Chinese consulate in Manchester (north of England) on Sunday October 16, the day the Communist Party congress opened in Beijing. It brought together pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, opposed to Beijing’s takeover of this formerly British Chinese territory, which has long enjoyed freedoms unmatched elsewhere in China.
British police are investigating an assault on a protester who was beaten by several men after being dragged inside… https://t.co/tNwYyPKQiH
Viral videos show individuals coming out of the consulate to destroy protesters’ banners. Violent altercations ensue, and a protester is seen on the ground, receiving beatings in the diplomatic compound.
Outrage in the British Parliament
These incidents were the subject of an urgent question in the British Parliament on Tuesday. In front of the deputies, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Jesse Norman, made it known that London had summoned the Chinese charge d’affaires to express the “deep concern” of the British government “about this incident and demand an explanation regarding the actions of the consulate staff”.
“The summoning of foreign representatives is not a decision taken lightly”insisted a spokesperson for the Prime Minister, Liz Truss. “And as the investigation continues, we will be very clear to the Chinese authorities that the right to peaceful protest in the UK must be respected.”he warned.
The charge d’affaires is the second highest representative of Chinese diplomacy in London after the ambassador, who is outside the United Kingdom, while the Chinese Communist Party congress is being held in Beijing.
China points finger at ‘troublemakers’
This case comes in a context that has already been tense in recent years between London and Beijing, particularly regarding Hong Kong.
China gave its version of the facts on Tuesday. “Troublemakers illegally entered the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester and endangered the security of the diplomatic compound”Beijing spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters. The UK must ” take [plus] effective measures to strengthen the protection of the Chinese Consulate and its staff”he insisted.
Men came out of the consulate to destroy the banners, and “when we tried to stop them, they pulled me inside [du consulat]they beat me”testified to the BBC the protester, aged about 30, beaten in the diplomatic compound.
Most of the figures of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement are now in prison or have given up politics. Others fled overseas after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law in 2020, a year after monster protests there. In a speech at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party Congress, President Xi Jinping on Sunday hailed the transition from “governance chaos” in Hong Kong.