British police are investigating an apparent assault on a protester who was recorded being beaten by several men after dragging him inside the Chinese consulate compound in Manchester during a demonstration against President Xi Jinping.
In video footage released by the BBC, a man wearing a black cap and ponytail was dragged through a door into the consular compound, where he was kicked and punched by five men as he lay on the ground.
A grey-haired man in a blue beret, glasses and scarf could also be seen grabbing the man by the hair.
The police present at the scene ended up going through the gate and taking the man out.
Sunday’s protest took place on the first day of the Chinese Communist Party congress, held in Beijing twice a year, at which Xi is expected to win a third term.
Several protest banners had previously been placed in front of the consulate, including one bearing the words “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party” and a caricature of Xi wearing a crown, according to footage provided to Reuters by a freelance journalist who was at the place.
The BBC video shows several men from the consulate, some wearing helmets and body armor, remove several banners and, during a heated confrontation with protesters, grab a man and drag him inside the consulate compound.
“Officers were present and responded immediately to calm the situation. Investigations are ongoing at this time to understand all the circumstances,” a Greater Manchester Police spokesman told Reuters in a statement.
The British Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Chinese consulate in Manchester did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing on Monday that he was not aware of the situation, but that the Chinese missions were acting in accordance with international diplomatic agreements.
“Chinese embassies and consulates in the UK have always abided by the laws of their country of residence, and we also hope that the British side will facilitate the normal performance of the functions of Chinese embassies and consulates.”
Security in Beijing has been tight in the run-up to the party congress, and last week police removed unusual political protest banners from a Beijing flyover, including one calling for Xi’s ouster.
Alicia Kearns, a member of the ruling Conservative Party and the new head of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ): “The CCP will not mind their beatings of protesters and the denial of free speech to the streets The Chinese ambassador must be summoned and if anyone responsible has beaten up the protesters, they must be expelled or prosecuted.”
Matthew Leung, a freelance journalist present at the scene and a friend of the beaten man, told Reuters by phone that he was “shocked” by the incident.
The beaten man had recently immigrated to the UK from Hong Kong, Leung said. He suffered cuts and bruises to his face, and went to the hospital for treatment.
The man did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment via messaging app.
Chinese-controlled Hong Kong was rocked by anti-government protests in 2019, after which Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law that has been used to detain leading Democrats and shut down civil society groups and media outlets.