During a protest, a senior Chinese ambassador in the UK justified his conduct by claiming that he tugged a man’s hair because the latter insulted the Asian country and its leader, Xi Jinping. Zheng Xiyuan, the general consul of the consulate in Manchester, said in a Thursday interview with Sky News that he took action because a demonstrator “abused my nation, my leader.”
Zheng said that “it is my responsibility” and that “if faced with that type of conduct, any diplomat would do the same.”
After between 30 and 40 people gathered outside the Chinese consulate on Sunday to perform a peaceful demonstration, according to Manchester police, a man was pulled inside the gates. The woman was allegedly assaulted inside the consulate before an officer carried her away, according to the police.
According to the footage of the event, Zheng seems to have destroyed one of numerous placards outside the consulate that were critical of both China’s governing Communist Party and Xi, who is anticipated to win a third term this weekend.
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Zheng then seems to pull a protester by the hair and watch as other guys beat him up after that action led to a confrontation between demonstrators and staff. In the interview, Zheng claimed that his team “tried to contain the situation” and that he “behaved politely.” He also denied hitting anybody.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly phoned the Chinese representative on Tuesday to express “grave concern” and request an explanation, Foreign Secretary Jesse Norman said the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The incident was subsequently denounced in an online article by the Hong Kong Indigenous Defense Force, a political organisation that had organised the gathering on social media. Also cited as stating, “This assault in broad daylight is without sense,” was the Hong Kong guy who had been pummelling.
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The incident is the most recent instance of Chinese officials getting into violent altercations. In 2020, two diplomats were charged with assaulting a Taiwanese colleague during a Fijian celebration of Taiwan’s national day, which Beijing disputed.
Following allegations that diplomats violated the law during a pro-Hong Kong protest in 2019, Lithuania lodged a grievance with the Chinese embassy in Vilnius.