Chinese envoys 'who brutally attacked Hong Kong activist' identified

Beijing brute squad NAMED: Chinese envoys ‘who brutally attacked Hong Kong pro-democracy activist’ outside consulate in Manchester are identified

  • A man was assaulted by Communist Party officials in riot gear in Manchester 
  • The House of Commons was told the consul-general played a role in the attack 
  • Ministers insisted an investigation into the attack should precede expulsions
  • Three other Chinese officials have been named on social media in full 

Four Chinese officials  accused of assaulting a pro-democracy protester were named today  – including one of Beijing’s top officials in the UK – as Britain summoned China’s deputy ambassador over the scandal.

Yesterday the House of Commons was told the consul-general, Zheng Xiyuan, played a central role in the attack.

And on social media the others were named as consul Gao Lianjia, counsellor Chen Wei and deputy consul Fan Yingjie.

On Sunday, a demonstrator was shown on video being snatched from the street in Manchester and assaulted by Communist Party officials in riot gear after displaying a mocking image of President Xi Jinping alongside 40 others.

The protester – who calls himself Bob Man – showed off injuries a day later on his face and head from the beating.

Footage of the attack, showed a man identified by MPs as Mr Xiyuan tore down posters and appeared to grab the protester’s hair.

The incident came as the ruling Communist Party congress began in Beijing.

China has brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong – actions President Xi hailed in his speech as moving the former British colony from ‘chaos to governance’.

Four Chinese embassy officials grab protester Bob and drag him onto the consulate’s land 

All four have now been identified as having taken part in the incident in Manchester on Sunday

In response, up to 40 protesters gathered outside the consulate on Sunday, displaying a mocking image of President Xi, who is seeking to secure a historic third term in power.

But as tempers flared, footage shows at least five people – some in riot gear – bursting out of the consulate gates.

A man in a blue and red scarf identified by MPs as Mr Xiyuan ripped down posters before Communist Party officials attempted to drag protesters inside the consulate’s compound and laid into ‘Bob’ – a protester whose name is not being revealed to protect his safety – whose hair appears to be grabbed by the consul general.

Risking a diplomatic incident, a uniformed policeman entered the compound and rescued the protester before he received hospital treatment for cuts and bruises.

Police have launched an investigation, pledging to explore ‘all viable avenues’ to bring those responsible to justice.

Speaking afterwards, ‘Bob’ told BBC Chinese it was ‘ridiculous’ that Chinese officials had been able to attack him in the UK.

‘We are supposed to have freedom to say whatever we want here,’ added the man, who fled to Britain from Hong Kong last year following the protest crackdown.

Following almost 48 hours of silence from the Foreign Office, an urgent Parliamentary question was yesterday lodged by Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Video footage shows what appeared to be a protester being dragged inside Chinese consulate’s gate in Manchester, prompting calls for the UK government to investigate

The UK officers appeared reluctant to step into the Chinese consulate itself, which enjoys special privileges and usually falls outside the jurisdiction of local police

She branded the incident a ‘chilling escalation’ of Chinese state repression and told MPs the Chinese Communist Party could not be permitted to ‘import their beating of protesters’ and ‘silencing of free speech’.

Mrs Kearns alleged that the consul-general had taken part in the incident, ‘ripping down posters’.

She demanded that any Chinese officials involved in the assault who could not be prosecuted should be expelled ‘within the week’.

In response, Foreign Office minister Jesse Norman told the House of Commons the Chinese charge d’affaires had been summoned ‘to express His Majesty’s Government’s deep concern at the incident and to demand an explanation for the actions of the consulate staff’.

He said peaceful protest was ‘a fundamental part of British society and of our way of life’, adding: ‘All those on our soil have the right to express their views peacefully without fear of violence.’ But he insisted that out of a sign of Britain’s respect for the rule of law, the police investigation must run its course first.

Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith also called on the Government to expel consulate staff if they are found to be responsible for ‘that punishment beating’, saying it appeared ministers were ‘dancing away’ from the issue.

Mr Duncan Smith read to MPs what he said were sections of the statement ‘Bob’ had given police about the incident.

He said the protester ‘confirms categorically that the guards at the gate hauled him in, that they tore his hands and his hair and they beat him’.

There is clear bruising over Bob Man’s eye as well as a cut underneath it and a wound on his nose

Protestors had put up pro-democracy posters before the altercation began on the streets

‘This is not China, this is the UK’: Hong Kong pro-democracy activist says he feared he would be killed when he was beaten by ‘Beijing thugs’ during demo at Chinese consulate in Manchester 

The Hong Kong pro-democracy protester dragged to the ground and beaten by ‘Beijing thugs’ said ‘I thought I might die’.

Bob Man was dragged inside the gates of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Rusholme.

He was forced to the ground and assaulted by at least five men while a police officer tries to pull the attackers off him.

Mr Man told Sky News: ‘I was thinking I might die inside because it’s not surprising they’d do that. If the police officer didn’t pull me out, I’d have died inside and they could do nothing. 

 It all happened too fast. I tried holding on to the gates but couldn’t hold for too long – they then threw me to the ground and started to kick and punch me.’

 ‘There’s no respect, they’re rude, it shouldn’t be like that here. It’s not China, this is the UK, you shouldn’t do that.’

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters had reportedly organised a peaceful protest outside of the Consulate in response to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, where President Xi Jinping is widely expected to announce another five years in power.

The MP for Chingford and Woodford Green – a long-standing critic of Chinese interference in the UK – added that ‘Bob’ said ‘at least four people are kicking me and at least for one minute tearing my hair’.

‘My head, face, arm, body and back are hurt, especially my back, it’s very painful and I struggle to sit down,’ Mr Duncan Smith read.

Meanwhile Labour MP Afzal Khan – in whose Manchester Gorton the consulate stands – said he was ‘sickened’ that such an attack could take place there.

Afterwards he said he was ‘appalled’ by the minister’s response, adding that ‘at the bare minimum’ the Government ‘must declare the Chinese Consul General as persona non grata’.

But speaking in Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman gave a completely different account of the incident, saying its diplomatic missions abroad have the right to ‘take necessary measures’ to maintain security.

‘The troublemakers illegally entered the Chinese Consulate-General in Manchester, endangering the security of the premises,’ said Wang Wenbin.

He urged the UK to ‘earnestly fulfil its duties and take effective measures to step up protection of the premises and personnel of the Chinese embassy and consulates’.

While foreign diplomatic and consular premises remain part of UK territory, they are considered ‘inviolable’ under the Vienna Convention – meaning they cannot be entered without the permission of the ambassador or head of mission.

However official advice issued to British police forces states that ‘every case must be dealt with on its own merits’.

Officers are told that their ‘overriding duty’ is ‘to protect the welfare and safety of the public’, and action can be taken if someone is in danger even if the suspect is believed to have diplomatic immunity.

Guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service states that premises are only deemed consular if they are used for that premises – meaning the courtyard of the consulate may not enjoy protected status.

It adds that offences committed in diplomatic premises are triable in accordance with English law – unless those involved have diplomatic immunity.

On Monday, Greater Manchester Police said officers had been facilitating the ‘peaceful’ protest when ‘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,’ it said in a statement.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts added that ‘all viable avenues will be explored to bring to justice anyone we believe is culpable’.

The charge d’affaires is the second ranking Chinese diplomat in the UK, with ambassador Zheng Zeguang understood to be out of the country.

According to its website, the mission of the consulate in Manchester is to ‘promote the friendly exchanges between the Chinese people and the British people’.

In addition, it aspires to ‘serve as a window on China and the relations between the two countries’, it adds.

Functions of the consulate including issuing visas and other travel documents, promoting business links, providing Chinese citizens with consular assistance and forging links with the Chinese community in Britain.

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