Britain’s foreign secretary summoned a top Chinese diplomat on Tuesday, October 18, over the alleged assault of a Hong Kong democracy protester at the Chinese Consulate in Manchester. 

According to A.P., the U.K. government has summoned the charge d’affaires at the Chinese embassy in London to raise their “deep concern” about the attack allegations and to “demand an explanation for the actions of the Chinese consulate staff.”

The peaceful protest in front of the Chinese Consulate on Sunday escalated when a man came out of the consulate to tear up signs and banners, followed by a group of unidentified men in masks. They dragged one of the protesters behind the gate and punched and kicked him when he was on the ground. Police stepped in and rescued the demonstrator before he suffered any further attacks.

The protest occurred at the same time as the 20th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. Banners against Chinese leader Xi Jinping and calling for Hong Kong’s independence were hung outside the consulate.

According to the BBC, a U.K. lawmaker, Alicia Kearns, said that a top Chinese diplomat in the U.K. was directly involved in the attack against protesters on Sunday.

She said, “What we saw was the Chinese consul-general then ripping down posters at a peaceful protest.”

British lawmakers even demanded the U.K. government expel any consular staff involved in the assault.

Some British lawmakers raise deep concerns over Beijing’s influence in the U.K. They said the Manchester attack was not the isolated incident from Beijing that intimidated Hong Kongers in the U.K. and called for further actions against them. 

Alicia Kearns, chair of the U.K. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said, “We cannot allow the Chinese Communist Party to import their beating of protesters and their silencing of free speech to British soil.”The Financial Times reported that Graham Stringer, another lawmaker, called to reduce the size of Chinese consulates in the U.K., saying that the Manchester consulate “was being used to control and police members of the Chinese community in Manchester.”

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