A man protesting outside the Chinese consulate in the northern British city of Manchester was dragged onto the consular grounds and beaten, increasing tensions as ties between the two countries worsen.
The scuffle at the consular gates in Manchester on Sunday took place as protesters from Hong Kong demonstrated against China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who is expected to win a third term leading the country during this week’s Communist Party Congress in Beijing. Banners and posters placed outside the consulate’s entrance called for an end to the Communist Party and depicted Mr. Xi wearing only a crown and underwear.
Video footage that circulated widely online showed a group of men, presumably from the consulate, ripping up posters and dragging one protester through the consulate’s gate, where they wrestled him to the ground and beat him.
A spokesman for the Chinese consulate was quoted by the BBC criticizing protesters for hanging an “insulting portrait” of Mr. Xi at the building’s main entrance.
“This would be intolerable and unacceptable for any diplomatic and consular missions of any country,” the spokesman said, according to the BBC. “Therefore, we condemn this deplorable act with strong indignation and firm opposition.” The consulate did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
During the scuffle, Manchester police officers stepped onto consular property to separate the protester from his attackers. The police said on Monday that the officers were there to defuse the situation.
Britain has been taking an increasingly hard line against China. It has revoked the broadcasting license of a state-backed news channel, banned equipment from the Chinese technology giant Huawei from Britain’s high-speed wireless network, and offered a path to citizenship to the residents of Hong Kong, a former British colony, in the wake of a political crackdown there.
The Home Office said in February that as many as 322,400 Hong Kongers would likely move to Britain over five years under new visa programs. Many of these emigrants have chosen Manchester as a new home base, partly for its relatively low cost of living.
Some Hong Kongers have become dedicated activists abroad. Protesters in British cities such as Nottingham and Newcastle have petitioned government officials to end sister-city relationships with Chinese counterparts.
As footage of the scuffle circulated widely online, some British lawmakers called for investigations into the incident and expulsions of those responsible. While those who commit crimes on consular property are subject to U.K. law, consular employees might receive diplomatic immunity from any prosecution.
“If any official has beaten protesters, they must be expelled or prosecuted,” Alicia Kearns, a Conservative member of Parliament, wrote on Twitter.
The British Foreign Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The post Protester Is Dragged Into a Chinese Consulate in England and Beaten appeared first on New York Times.