More than a week after a violent scuffle erupted at his workplace, a staff member with the Chinese consulate in Manchester, United Kingdom, is claiming he was attacked by a protester.
“He then knocked off my eyeglasses and attacked me on the face,” Gao said of the protester, whom he described as a man wearing a black combat glove on his left hand, according to Sky News.
The diplomat continued, “In a split second, he grabbed my collars tightly and knelt forcefully on my body with my back on the ground. I struggled, but to no avail. I had difficulty breathing and lost consciousness.”
Gao shared his version of events at a news conference organized by the consulate and the Chinese Embassy. Due to the attack, he reportedly suffered a concussion and other injuries.
“When I came back to life, I saw the attacker being taken out of the compound by the police,” he added.
It was not immediately clear whether Gao was referring to Bob Chan, the Hong Kong national who was dragged into the consulate’s grounds before being pulled out by British police. Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan previously alleged that the protester “plunged into property himself” after refusing to let go of a staff member.
Zheng, however, also admitted to pulling Chan by the hair, describing it as an act of “duty.” “He abused my country, my leader,” the official said.
Zheng, who was also present at the conference, expressed disappointment at the Greater Manchester Police for failing to “step in” on behalf of the consulate.
“We hoped the police would step in to support us, but they didn’t do so,” Zheng said, as per Sky News. “It was under such a circumstance that in order to safeguard our country’s dignity, we took action.”
Yang Xiaoguang, charge d’affaires at the Chinese Embassy, also took aim at the British government.
“We urge the British side to solve this issue according to the merits of this issue and not to make wrong decisions under political pressure from a few people. We also request the British side provide enough protection for the Chinese missions in the UK in the future,” Yang said, according to CGTN.
Chan, for his part, has strongly refuted the consulate and Beijing’s version of events. In another conference last week, he insisted that he was dragged into the consulate grounds and assaulted — actions that appear consistent with now-viral videos of the chaotic moment.
“Let me say it again so I am clear: I was dragged into the consulate. I did not attempt to enter the consulate,” he said. “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.