Britain should deal with assault of Hong Kong protester under local laws: HK leader

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Hong Kong leader John Lee said on Tuesday the case of a Hong Kong protester allegedly assaulted inside the grounds of the Chinese consulate in the British city of Manchester should be dealt with in accordance with local laws.

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British police are investigating after a man was dragged into the consulate’s grounds and beaten by several men during a demonstration against Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday.

The man, whose first name is Bob, is in his 30s and emigrated to the UK from Hong Kong recently, according to a friend close to him. He did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The protest, involving 30-40 people including Hongkongers now resident in Britain, took place at the start of a twice-a-decade congress of China’s ruling Communist Party in Beijing at which Xi is widely expected to win a third leadership term.

“I trust that the local government will deal with the case in accordance with the Vienna convention on consular relations, and the local law,” Lee told a weekly news conference.

“I will make no more comment because I don’t have full details of the case.”

Police in Manchester said “due to our fears for the safety of the man, officers intervened and removed the victim from the consulate grounds.”

The victim spent the night in hospital for treatment and an investigation is ongoing, police added in a statement.

Alicia Kearns, a lawmaker in the ruling Conservative Party and the new head of parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Twitter that China’s Manchester consul general, Zheng Xiyuan, “had full sight, and was quite possibly involved, in the assaults.”

The Chinese consulate in Manchester did not respond to requests from Reuters for comment via email and the consulate’s official Wechat account, including regarding allegations that consulate staff had been involved.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Liz Truss said the reports were “deeply concerning”.

The incident was triggered when several men came out of the consulate and tried taking down several protest banners, including one with the slogan: “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party”, and a caricature of Xi wearing a crown.

Security has been tight in Beijing as the party congress gets underway, and police last week removed rare banners of political protest - including one calling for Xi’s ouster - from an overpass.

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