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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Via AP news wire

China removes 6 diplomats from UK after protester assaulted

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Six Chinese officials have been removed from Britain by China, including one of its most senior UK diplomats.

The news comes just two months after the violence which took place at its Manchester consulate.

The UK had requested that the officials waive their right to diplomatic immunity, so that detectives can question them about the Manchester incident.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that he was “disappointed” that none of the six will now face justice.

Mr Cleverly said China’s removal of Mr Zheng and five other officials shows just how serious the UK’s response to the incident was.

"We will continue on the world stage and domestically to abide by the rule of law and we expect others to do likewise," he said.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, he also added: "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."

The group included Zheng Xiyuan, who denied beating a protester in Manchester.

Bob Chan - a pro-democracy protestor from Hong Kong - was injured after being dragged onto the consulate grounds beaten by men on 16 October.

Police revealed that at the time 40 protesters had gathered outside the consulate, an office that is UK territory but that can’t be entered without consent.

Greater Manchester Police revealed that a group of men “came out of the building and a man was dragged into the consulate grounds and assaulted”.

“Due to our fears for the safety of the man, officers intervened and removed the victim from the consulate grounds,” a statement explained.

Mr Zheng, who was in charge of China’s Manchester outpost at the time, has denied any part in the attack of Mr Chan, even after he was identified in photographs, and accused of doing so by a senior Conservative MP.

Later, he told reporters he had been attempting to protect his colleagues through his actions.

He added that Mr Chan was "abusing my country, my leader. I think it’s my duty".

China’s decision to remove the diplomats can be seen as an attempt to de-escalate the dispute between it and the UK.

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