The pro-Hong Kong independence protester who was filmed being beaten inside the Chinese Consulate in Manchester has rejected Beijing’s version of how the incident unfolded, saying the attack was “unprovoked.”
The Hong Kong national, identified as Bob Chan, insists that he was dragged into the consulate’s grounds during the peaceful protest his group had organized on Sunday, contradicting China’s assertion that he “stormed” his way into the territory.
“Let me say it again so I am clear: I was dragged into the consulate. I did not attempt to enter the consulate,” Chan told a news conference in the British Parliament on Wednesday.
The chaos, which was caught on now-viral security footage, has since sparked global outrage, with many condemning the consular staff. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly summoned Yang Xiaoguang, China’s second-most senior diplomat in London, to explain the incident.
Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan, who heads the Manchester consulate, confirmed his involvement in the violence in an interview with the Manchester Evening News. He claimed the protesters were “asked politely” to remove “offensive” posters, but “they refused to do so.”
Chaos then ensued, with one protester allegedly grabbing a consular staff member and refusing to let go. As other staff members pulled their colleague back in, the said protester “plunged into the property himself,” Zheng said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin echoed Zheng’s version of events. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he said the protester “illegally entered” the consulate and “jeopardized the security of the Chinese diplomatic premises.”
“The diplomatic missions of all countries have the right to take necessary measures to maintain the peace and dignity of the premises,” Wang said, as per the Associated Press. “What I want to stress is that the peace and dignity of Chinese embassies and consulates abroad must not be violated.”
Chan disputed the Chinese officials’ accounts as he described his experience in detail at the British Parliament. He reportedly received treatment for injuries that included a swollen and bruised head, a sore waist, a bruised neck and a bruised back.
“I am shocked and hurt by this unprovoked attack. I am shocked because I never thought something like this could have happened in the U.K.,” he said. “I then found myself being dragged into the grounds of the consulate. I held onto the gates where I was kicked and punched, I could not hold on for long.”
“I was eventually pulled onto the ground of the consulate. I felt punches and kicks from several men. Other protestors were trying to get me out of this situation, but to no avail. The attack only stopped when a man who turned out to be a uniformed officer from the Greater Manchester Police pulled me outside the gates.”
The incident remains under investigation by the Greater Manchester Police. Chan, who fled Hong Kong last year and now fears retribution against his family, is urging the British government to act more swiftly.
“They said that they need to take time to act. I would hope that they can act faster and quickly reach a conclusion on whether or not they will carry out actions against [the] people involved,” Chan said.