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China Removes 6 Officials After Manchester Consulate Incident, Will the UK Apply Sanctions?

Published: December 22, 2022
Protesters march down Whitehall carrying a banner asking for CCP officials that assaulted Bob Chan to be deported on 23 October 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Bob Chan was dragged into the grounds of the Manchester Consulate and beaten up during a Hong Kong pro-democracy protest on Sunday 16 October, 2022. (Image: Martin Pope/Getty Images)

By Vision Times UK Staff

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced on Dec. 14 that “Six Chinese Consulate officials, including the consul general, are being removed from the UK, following the disgraceful incident in October.” 

He was referring to the violent incident that occurred at the Chinese Consulate in Manchester. According to a statement by the Greater Manchester Police, a planned demonstration took place on Sunday, 16 October, where around 30 to 40 people gathered outside the Chinese Consulate and held a peaceful protest. 

16 October was the first day of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in China. The Manchester based Consul General, Zheng Xiyuan, and other staff reacted by kicking down pro-democracy banners protesting against the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping that protesters had put up outside the building. 

“Shortly before 4pm a small group of men came out of the building and a man was dragged into the Consulate grounds and assaulted. Due to our fears for the safety of the man, officers intervened and removed the victim from the Consulate grounds. The man – aged in his 30s – suffered several physical injuries and remained in hospital overnight for treatment.” 

The injured man was later identified as Bob Chan, a Hongkonger who had moved to the UK. The BBC footage of the incident showed Chan being pulled through the gate into the grounds, pushed to the floor and assaulted by five men who kicked and punched him. 

“Images carried on social media showed what appeared to be completely unacceptable behaviour by a number of individuals near the entrance to the consular premises,” said Cleverly, as reported by Reuters. 

As part of the investigation, Cleverly said that the police had requested that six Chinese officials waive their diplomatic immunity so they could be questioned. The deadline for the embassy to act was 14 December. However, the officials, including the Consul General, had been recalled back to China as “part of “a normal rotation”, according to Beijing. But the media called the action “fleeing.” 

While Beijing called Zheng’s departure from Britain “a normal rotation” and insisted that “it’s for us to determine the duration of posting of members of Chinese diplomatic and consular missions,” British media branded the forced departure of Zheng and others who would have faced questioning by British police as “fleeing.”

Despite the footage, which evidenced the attack, as well as the interview in which the Consul General stated that it was “his duty” to attack the protestors, Human rights campaigners, including Hong Kong Watch Benedict Rogers and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, believed that the government had waited too long to apply pressure on the Chinese staff. 

Following up on the Foreign Secretary’s actions, Lord Alton of Liverpool, a patron of Hong Kong Watch, wrote a letter on 16 December questioning him if additional sanctions would be taken against the Consul staff, including that the “diplomats and their families are permanently banned from the UK and UK overseas territories and dependencies?”

“Commit to pursuing China for financial compensation to cover the cost of the police investigation and restitution for the victims, including Bob Chan, the protestor who was dragged onto embassy ground and beaten?”

“Commit to ensuring that those six diplomatic posts vacated by the Chinese diplomats are not replaced and as a penalty for this assault the number of diplomatic visas available for People’s Republic of China in the UK is permanently reduced?”