UK activists and MPs are calling for an investigation after a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester was beaten on the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester.
A pro-democracy group called the Hong Kong Indigenous Defense Force staged a protest outside the consulate in the northern city on Sunday, against the Chinese Communist Party Congress to be held in Beijing on the same day.
Video of the incident shared on social media shows a scuffle breaking out on the sidewalk outside the consulate, with people screaming loudly as they run to the elevator. In the video, a Hong Kong protester appears to be dragged through the gate and beaten by a group of men into the consulate area.
In the video it seems that the municipal police enter the consulate area to break up the violence.
The Hong Kong Indigenous Defense Force has alleged that Chinese consular staff were involved in the alleged beating, and the protester was taken to hospital in a stable condition.
A statement from Greater Manchester Police said “officers were present and responded immediately to disperse the situation”. “Inquiries are currently being made to understand the whole situation. After this incident, a police patrol plan is in place in the area”, added the statement.
CNN reached out to the Chinese embassy in London for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
Greater Manchester Police did not immediately respond to CNN’s inquiry about whether officers had the authority to enter the consulate area. Normally, the authorities of a host country do not allow entry into foreign consular posts unless they have been granted permission.
The video of the altercation has been shared online by several UK MPs, who have called for an investigation into the alleged involvement of Chinese consular staff.
“The UK Government must issue a full apology to the Chinese ambassador to the UK and demand that those responsible be sent to China,” Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith wrote on Twitter.
Conservative Party Member of Parliament Alicia Kearns also tweeted on Sunday that authorities should “urgently investigate” and summon China’s ambassador. “If any officials beat the protesters, they should be expelled or prosecuted,” he wrote.
Both lawmakers have previously been outspoken critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
Prominent Hong Kong activists have also spoken. Nathan Law, a former MP and pro-democracy figure who fled to the UK in 2020, wrote: “If consulate officials are not held accountable, Hong Kongers will live in fear of being kidnapped and persecuted.” He called on the British government to “investigate and protect our community and people in the UK”.
Britain is home to a large number of Hong Kong citizens, many of whom left the territory after a sweeping national security law was introduced in 2020 that critics say stripped the former British colony of its precious autonomy and civil liberties while strengthening Beijing’s authoritarian rule.
According to an online statement by organizers of Sunday’s protest, around 60 protesters gathered outside the consulate in Manchester to protest “the re-election of Xi Jinping”.
The Congress of the Chinese Communist Party began on Sunday, marking the second leadership change in a decade and a meeting of top party officials. Chinese leader Xi, who came to power in 2012, is expected to break with the deal and take a third term, paving the way for life in office.