Following a violent assault on pro-democracy protesters in Manchester, the Communist Party of China recalled six officials from the United Kingdom on Wednesday, including one of its top diplomats.
To avoid expelling Chinese diplomats, Beijing has recalled the Consulate General in Manchester, Zheng Xiyuan. In Oct., the UK government was very unhappy after Xiyuan was filmed attacking Bob Chan, a Hong Kong democracy protester. Five other CCP officials were also recalled from the consulate.
Despite being caught on film dragging Chan, the Consulate General initially denied using violence against him. Later on, Zheng would seem to acknowledge that he did commit the attack.
China's consul general in Manchester admitted tearing the hair from protester and Hong Konger Bob Chan, saying it was his duty.
When the UK asked for the diplomats to be questioned over the alleged assault, they fled. https://t.co/HdktExiueP
— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) December 14, 2022
It was originally the U.K.’s request to China to revoke the diplomatic immunity of the six Manchester Consulate officials, opening the doors to prosecution. It was also warned that if the Chinese failed to cooperate with the police investigation, the government would declare them persona non grata, which means that they would be expelled from the country.
The foreign secretary tried to spin China’s decision to remove diplomatic staff as a sign of a strong British response. “I am disappointed that these individuals will not be interviewed or face justice. Nonetheless, it is right that those responsible for the disgraceful scenes in Manchester are no longer – or will shortly cease to be – consular staff accredited to the UK,” he added.
Other Conservative Party leaders, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, said that the government should not have allowed them to leave on their own. “The flagrant assault on a peaceful democracy campaigner in Manchester needs more than allowing those responsible to leave the UK uncharged and with their heads held high. Letting China take them back isn’t justice,” Sir Iain said. “We should have kicked them out weeks ago.”
Chan said that even though it took two months to get members of the Chinese Consulate to leave, he is grateful. He noted that their return to China was a good way to solve the diplomatic problems that came from his attack.
“I relocated to this country with my family to live freely. What happened on Oct. 16 2022 was unacceptable and illegal, and the withdrawal of these Chinese diplomats gives me a sense of closure,” Chan said.