Manchester Chinese Consulate: police inquiries under way after man assaulted during Hong Kong protest

A full investigation into the circumstances of the incident is now being demanded.

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Police say they have begun making enquiries after a man was dragged inside the grounds of the Chinese Consulate in Manchester and assaulted during a Hong Kong protest.

Activists demonstrated outside the building on Sunday (16 October) to show opposition to Beijing’s policies towards the region to coincide with the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

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However, reports and video footage which circulated online appeared to show someone from the consulate tear down posters before one of the protestors ended up inside the grounds and was beaten by several men. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say they are investigating and have explained how anyone who saw the incident can get in touch while also giving an account of the incident confirming key details about what happened to the victim.

There have been calls for action by politicians including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who called what happened “deeply worrying”.

What happened at the Manchester Chinese Consulate?

An eyewitness told ManchesterWorld that protestors assembled on Sunday afternoon for a protest which had previously been cleared with police. The pro-democracy activists placed banners and posters outside the consulate including one depicting Chinese president Xi Jinping as an emperor with a crown on his head.

The eyewitness account said the protestors were told by someone from the consulate that one of the posters needed to be removed from the pavement. This request was refused.

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The witness then claimed a number of men emerged from the building,ripped the poster off its metal stand and dragged one of the protestors into the grounds of the consulate where he appeared to be beaten by a group of men. Video footage of the incident has been circulating online.

GMP also gave an account of what happened on Monday (17 October) which confirmed that a man was taken inside the consulate grounds and assaulted. The force said between 30 and 40 people gathered outside the building and officers were in the area to make sure the protest remained peaceful. Police then said that shortly before 4pm a small group of men came out of the building and a man was dragged into the consulate grounds and assaulted. GMP said officers feared for the safety of the man and intervened, removing him from the consulate grounds. The man – who was in his 30s – suffered several injuries and remained in hospital overnight for treatment, GMP said. The force also said he is continuing to receive support.

GMP said it is now investigating and liaising with national policing and diplomatic partners. No arrests have been made so far but inquiries in what has been described as an “ongoing and complex” operation are continuing and local patrols are still ta GMP has also set up a dedicated portal and is asking anyone with information or video footage to submit it there.

There have been a number of large protests in Manchester by Hongkongers in recent months, raising awareness of the exodus from the region following huge pro-democracy protests and the passing of a controversial national security law.

What has the reaction been?

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A Hong Kong protestor demanded a full investigation by the Chinese authorities into the incident, saying consulate staff should not be interfering with protest materials placed on the pavement outside or dealing with those opposing Beijing’s policies in a heavy-handed way.

The Hong Kong Indigenous Defence Force, which organised the protest, said an activist named as Bob was the one dragged into the consulate grounds. In a statement released by the group Bob said: “This attack in broad daylight is beyond reason. The claws of CCP are upon newcomers to the U.K. on BNO visa. This is a land that respects liberty and emphasises freedom of speech.”

A spokesman for the group in Manchester said: “This incident must be taken with solemn seriousness. I hope all Hongkongers all over the world can be united. We regard as our role model Mr Peng, the brave bridge man in Beijing who speaks up against the suppressions in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong.”

GMP assistant chief constable Rob Potts said: “We understand the shock and concern that this incident will have caused not just locally, but for those much further afield who may have connections with our communities here in Greater Manchester.

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“It is clear what began as a peaceful protest unexpectedly escalated and our officers acted professionally in response to a hostile and dynamic situation to help the victim and ensure he didn’t come to any further harm.

“A full and comprehensive investigation is underway by our experienced Major Incident Team detectives, and I can assure the public that all viable avenues will be explored to bring to justice anyone we believe is culpable for the scenes we saw outside the Chinese Consulate on Sunday.

“This investigation will take time but we are supporting the man who was subjected to this assault, as well as ensuring that our local officers are providing visible reassurance and are available to anyone may wish to speak to us.”

The incident was strongly condemned on social media by former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, who called on home secretary Suella Braverman to investigate. In one of two tweets he posted Mr Duncan Smith said the UK Government should demand a full apology from the Chinese Ambassador and the staff responsible for the incident should be sent back to China, while in the other he described the events as “deeply worrying”.

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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham also released a statement about the incident on Monday (17 October). Mr Burnham said: “What took place yesterday outside the Chinese Consulate in Manchester was deeply worrying and has no place in a city-region like ours that prides itself on peoples’ right to protest peacefully. Greater Manchester Police immediately started a full investigation and are in close touch with the Home Office and Foreign Office.

“It is important that the full facts surrounding this incident are established and for that we will need to wait for the investigation to conclude. However, on the basis of what I have seen, I want to make clear that it is never acceptable for peaceful protestors to be assaulted and those responsible need to be held to account for their actions.”

The Chinese Consulate has been approached for comment. National mereports of the incident carried comments from a consulate spokesperson who described the poster of Xi Jinping as “insulting” and that it therefore condemned “this deplorable act with strong indignation and firm opposition”.

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