Protester describes ‘barbaric’ attack at Chinese consulate in UK

Bob Chan says diplomats who allegedly assaulted him were ‘like gangsters’

Bob Chan showing his injuries on his phone
Hong Kong demonstrator Bob Chan shows image of injuries to his back
(Image credit: (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images))

A Hong Kong pro-democracy protester has told how he was beaten in a “barbaric” attack by Chinese diplomats after being dragged into their consulate grounds in Manchester.

Bob Chan told a news conference in London yesterday that he suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment after being pulled away from a street demonstration and assaulted. “I am shocked because I never thought something like this could have happened in the UK,” he said.

Chan spoke out “after China, insisting its diplomats in Manchester were blameless, lodged a formal complaint with the UK government”, reported Hong Kong Free Press.

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Greater Manchester Police said that after about 40 people gathered outside the consulate in a “peaceful protest” on Sunday, “a small group of men came out of the building and a man was dragged into the consulate grounds and assaulted”.

Chan, who fled Hong Kong to come to the UK last March, told Sky News that the accused diplomats “are like gangsters, you know, doing things like gangsters”.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns has accused one of China's most senior UK diplomats, of being involved in the violence. Kearns told fellow MPs in the Commons that Chinese consul-general Zheng Xiyuan was seen “ripping down posters” during the protest.

The Guardian reported that “footage posted online shows a person, believed to be Zheng, who is a veteran Chinese Communist party (CCP) official, kicking down a poster and pulling the hair of a protester”, who was then dragged away.

The consulat-general has denied the attack claims.

China’s Charge d’Affaires to London, Yang Xiaoguang, was “grilled” by senior UK officials at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on Tuesday after the department expressed “deep concern” to the Chinese embassy over the attack, Politico reported.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson had earlier told a press conference in Beijing that “disturbing elements illegally entered the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester and endangered the security of Chinese diplomatic premises”.

“Diplomatic institutions of any country have the right to take the necessary measures to safeguard the peace and dignity of their premises,” the spokeperson said.

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.