China has accused the United Kingdom of political manipulation regarding the Manchester consulate incident, promising “strong and forceful countermeasures” if London continues.
In a press briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin maintained that the Oct. 16 incident was caused by the protesters, accusing them of illegally entering the consulate and assaulting its staff.
“What happened at the Chinese Consulate-General on October 16 was very clear. The protesters made provocations first,” Wang said, according to the Global Times. “They deliberately harassed and entered illegally into China’s Consulate-General in Manchester, and violently assaulted the consulate staff.”
Videos from the incident appear to show otherwise, with multiple news outlets corroborating (New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters). A protester, identified as Hong Kong national Bob Chan, was dragged into consulate grounds before staff members surrounded and assaulted him.
CCTV from the Chinese Consulate in Manchester quite clearly shows diplomats pulling Bob the protestor into the compound as police attempt to save his life.
— Luke M (@McWLuke) October 18, 2022
“Let me say it again so I am clear: I was dragged into the consulate. I did not attempt to enter the consulate,” Chan said at a news conference after the incident.
Wang, on the other hand, claimed a staff member was instead dragged out of the consulate and beaten. He alleged that two protesters broke into the consulate: one who choked a staff member unconscious and another wearing a professional combat glove.
Wang said the U.K. “misrepresented” facts about the incident, which fell under the investigation of the Greater Manchester Police. However, the probe came to a halt after Beijing recalled six of the diplomats involved in the incident, including Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan, who previously confessed to pulling Chan by the hair out of “duty.”
In response to the recalls, Wang said Zheng completed his office term and returned to China following “recently issued instructions.” He described the move as “normal rotation.”
Wang said the U.K. should stop siding with “anti-China rioters” calling for “Hong Kong independence.” He urged the British government to abide by international laws, cease “political manipulation” and take steps to enable normal Chinese diplomatic missions in the country.
The Chinese Embassy in the U.K. released a similar statement, vowing “forceful responses” if London fails to meet its demands.
“The U.K. side must be clear that reciprocity is an essential principle in diplomacy. Any act that undermines China’s interests will definitely be met with forceful responses,” the statement said, as per China Daily.