Police in Manchester have launched an investigation after a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester was allegedly beaten on the grounds of the Chinese consulate in the English city.
A pro-democracy group called Hong Kong Indigenous Defence Force had staged a protest outside the consulate in the northern city on Sunday, in opposition to the Chinese Communist Party Congress happening the same day in Beijing.
Video of the incident shared widely on social media shows a confrontation breaking out on the sidewalk outside the consulate, with loud shouts heard as people rush towards the gated entrance. The video then appears to show one Hong Kong protester being dragged through the gate into the consulate grounds and beaten by a group of men.
The video appears to show local police entering the grounds of the consulate to break up the violence.
Hong Kong Indigenous Defence Force alleges that Chinese consular staff were involved in the alleged beating, and that the protester was taken to hospital in stable condition.
Greater Manchester Police said Monday they were investigating the incident, in which a man “suffered several physical injuries.”
“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,” assistant chief constable Rob Potts said in a statement.
“Shortly before 4 p.m. 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. He is continuing to receive our support for his welfare.”
The statemented added that currently “no arrests have been made” and that the investigation was ongoing.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Liz Truss described the incident as “deeply concerning.”
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said he was “not aware of the situation.”
“Chinese Embassy and consulates in the UK have always abided by the laws of the countries where they are stationed,” he said in a regular news briefing. “We also hope that the British side, in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, will facilitate the normal performance of the duties of the Chinese Embassy and consulates in the UK.”
CNN approached the Chinese Embassy in London for comment but did not receive an immediate response.
Video of the scuffle has been shared online by multiple UK lawmakers, who have called for an investigation into the alleged involvement of Chinese consular staff.
“The UK Government must demand a full apology from the Chinese Ambassador to the UK and demand those responsible are sent home to China,” ruling Conservative Party lawmaker Iain Duncan Smith wrote on Twitter.
Conservative Party member of Parliament Alicia Kearns also tweeted on Sunday that authorities “need to urgently investigate,” and that the Chinese Ambassador should be summoned. “If any official has beaten protesters, they must be expelled or prosecuted,” she wrote.
Both lawmakers have previously been vocal critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
Prominent Hong Kong activists have also spoken out. Nathan Law, a former lawmaker and pro-democracy figure who fled to the UK in 2020, tweeted: “If the consulate staff responsible are not held accountable, Hong Kongers would live in fear of being kidnapped and persecuted.” He urged the British government to “investigate and protect our community and people in the UK.”
Britain is home to large numbers of Hong Kong citizens, many of whom left the territory following the introduction of a sweeping national security law in 2020 that critics say stripped the former British colony of its autonomy and precious civil freedoms, while cementing Beijing’s authoritarian rule.
According to an online statement by organizers of Sunday’s protest, around 60 demonstrators had gathered outside the Manchester consulate to protest “the re-election of Xi Jinping.”
The Chinese Communist Party Congress, a twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle and meeting of the party’s top officials, kicked off on Sunday. Chinese leader Xi, who came to power in 2012, is widely expected to break with convention and take on a third term, paving the way for lifelong rule.