UK police investigate beating of protester on Chinese consulate grounds


London (AFP) — British police are investigating an assault on a protester who was beaten by several men after being dragged inside the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester during a demonstration against President Xi Jinping.

Sunday’s protest took place on the first day of the twice-a-decade congress of China’s ruling Communist Party in Beijing at which Xi is widely expected to win a third leadership term.

Several protest banners had been placed outside the consulate, one with the words, “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party”.

Greater Manchester Police said about 30 to 40 people were gathered outside the Chinese consulate.

“Shortly before 4 p.m. a small group of men came out of the building and a man was dragged into the consulate grounds and assaulted,” a police statement said.

“Due to our fears for the safety of the man, officers intervened and removed the victim from the consulate grounds.”

Footage posted by the BBC showed a man in a black cap and ponytail being hauled through a gate into the consular grounds, where he was kicked and punched by five men as he lay on the ground.

One silver-haired man in a blue beret, glasses and scarf could also be seen grabbing the man’s hair before police entered the consulate grounds and pulled the man out.

The BBC video showed several men from the consulate, some wearing helmets and protective vests, take down several banners, and during a confrontation with the protesters, they grabbed one man and dragged him into the grounds.

The police said in a statement the man – in his 30s – suffered several physical injuries and remained in hospital overnight for treatment. No arrests have been made.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said a full investigation was underway.

Alicia Kearns, a lawmaker in Britain’s ruling Conservative Party and the head of parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said the government should summon the Chinese ambassador and expel or prosecute any official who had beaten protesters.

The Chinese consulate in Manchester did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment. A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Liz Truss said the reports were “deeply concerning”.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing on Monday he was not aware of the situation but that Chinese missions acted in accordance with international diplomatic agreements.

“Chinese embassies and consulates in the UK have always abided by the laws of their country of residence, and we also hope that the British side will facilitate the normal performance of duties of Chinese embassies and consulates,” Wang said.

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