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The UK is calling on China to explain itself after beating a pro-democracy protester in Manchester

Following strong reactions in Britain, London summoned a senior Chinese diplomat on Tuesday (October 18th) to demand an explanation for the violent attack on a protester at the Chinese consulate in Manchester.

An authorized demonstration was held in front of the Chinese Consulate in Manchester (Northern England) on Sunday 16 October, the day of the Communist Party’s inauguration in Beijing. It brought together pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong opposed to Beijing’s takeover of this former British Chinese territory, which has long enjoyed freedoms unmatched elsewhere in China.

Viral videos show people coming out of the consulate to destroy protesters’ banners. Violent altercations ensue and a protester is seen on the ground receiving a beating in the diplomatic area.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Hong Kong, twenty-five years after the handover to China: from the rule of law to a state of fear

Outrage in the British Parliament

These incidents were the subject of an urgent question in the British Parliament on Tuesday. In front of the deputies, the foreign minister, Jesse Norman, made it known that London had summoned the Chinese charge d’affaires to express “deep concern” by the British Government “about this incident and demand an explanation regarding the actions of consular staff”.

“The summoning of foreign representatives is not an easy decision”insisted a spokesman for the Prime Minister, Liz Truss. “And while the investigation continues, we will be very clear to the Chinese authorities that the right to peaceful protest in the UK must be respected.”he warned.

The charge d’affaires is the second-highest representative of Chinese diplomacy in London after the ambassador, who is outside the UK while the Chinese Communist Party Congress is held in Beijing.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers “It took only two years to transform Hong Kong into a post-totalitarian system”

China points the finger at ‘troublemakers’

This case comes in a context that has already been tense in recent years between London and Beijing, especially regarding Hong Kong.

China gave its version of the facts on Tuesday. “Troublemakers illegally entered the Chinese Consulate-General in Manchester, endangering the security of the diplomatic compound”Beijing spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters. Great Britain must “roof [plus] effective measures to strengthen the protection of the Chinese consulate and its staff”he insisted.

Men came out of the consulate to destroy the banners, and “When we tried to stop them, they pulled me in [du consulat]they hit me”testified to the BBC that the protester, aged around 30, was beaten in the diplomatic area.

Most people in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong are now in prison or have given up politics. Others fled abroad after Beijing introduced a draconian national security law in 2020, a year after monster protests there. In a speech at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party Congress on Sunday, President Xi Jinping hailed the transition from “management chaos” in Hong Kong.

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The world with AFP

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