An investigation is under way into violence at a rally organised by Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners outside the Chinese consulate in the British city of Manchester, after video showed one of the protesters dragged into the grounds of the consulate and beaten.
The violence flared on Sunday when a small group of people gathered outside the consulate, putting up posters and banners, as the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party began in Beijing.
Video on social media showed a group of men suddenly attacking the group’s posters and placards, with scuffles breaking out. One protester was filmed being dragged through the gates onto the consulate grounds where he was attacked by a number of men before a police officer pulled him to safety.
Speaking to the BBC Chinese service, the protester, known as Bob, said “mainlanders” – referring to people from mainland China, as opposed to Hong Kong – came out of the consulate and began tearing up the group’s posters.
“As we tried to stop them, they dragged me inside, they beat me up,” he said, adding that he was finally pulled out by the British police.
A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Police said an investigation into the incident had begun, and some officers remained at the site, according to a report in the Manchester Evening News.
A Hongkonger was dragged into the PRC Consulate and beaten.
If the consulate staff responsible are not held accountable, Hongkongers would live in fear of being kidnapped and persecuted.
Foreign&Home Secretaries must Investigate and protect our community and people in the UK. pic.twitter.com/aHaxgCxecy
— Nathan Law 羅冠聰 (@nathanlawkc) October 16, 2022
The UK Government @10DowningStreet must demand a full apology from the Chinese Ambassador to the UK @AmbZhengZeguang and demand those responsible are sent home to China. @SuellaBraverman https://t.co/9nBgJqHIvo
— Iain Duncan Smith MP (@MPIainDS) October 16, 2022
Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the ruling Conservative party and a vocal campaigner for Hong Kong, said the video was “deeply troubling” and urged Home Secretary Suella Braverman to investigate.
Fellow Conservative Alicia Kearns, who chairs parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed the call, noting that the Consul General had “full sight” of the attack and “was quite possibly involved”.
“The CCP will not import their beating of protestors and denial of free speech to British streets,” she wrote on Twitter. “Chinese ambassador must be summoned & if any official has beaten protesters, they must be expelled or prosecuted.”
VOA Cantonese published a picture of Bob, the protester, showing cuts to his nose and around his right eye. He told the media outlet that he suffered injuries to his head, face, neck and back as a result of the attack and said he was worried similar incidents could happen again if no action was taken.
A consulate spokesperson said the protesters had displayed an “insulting” portrait of China’s President Xi Jinping.