Updated: Dec 15, 2022
PRESS RELEASE: UK Foreign Secretary announces 6 Chinese diplomats to be removed following attack on protestor in Manchester
Wednesday 14th December – This afternoon, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced that six Chinese consulate diplomats are being removed from the UK. This comes following the attack in Manchester at the Consulate on Bob Chan. One of the six officials is Consul General Zheng Xiyuan who openly admitted to participating in the attack on Bob Chan.
During the incident which took place on 16th October, pro-democracy and anti-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) protesters from Hong Kong had their signs torn down and destroyed outside the Consulate, before Bob Chan was dragged inside the grounds of the Consulate and beaten. While the CFHK Foundation welcomes the removal of those responsible for the attack, we are appalled by the length of time it has taken to come to this decision.
Mr. Cleverly stated, “we will continue on the world stage and domestically to abide by the rule of law and expect others to do likewise.” While the Foreign Secretary expresses this important message, he gave no indication about how the UK Government will act should such an incident to happen again.
Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton where the attack took place, stated “We are seeing increasing transnational repression from the Chinese Communist Party, and increasing diplomatic hubris. We cannot allow this kind of behaviour to pass the impunity, and so it is right that the violent individuals have returned home. If there is a next time, I hope there won’t be – we should take swifter action to show that our country will stand firm against the importing of CCP thuggery.”
The UK Government should not only show strength when dealing with foreign aggression on British soil, but it should also act with speed and decisiveness. Despite the calls of multiple MPs to remove the officials following the attack in order to send a strong message, a decision finally came two months later. The announcement from the Foreign Secretary on removing the six Chinese officials takes place just days after the sentencing of British citizen Jimmy Lai to nearly six years in Hong Kong prison for trumped-up fraud charges, to which the UK Government is yet to respond.
CFHK Foundation President Mark Clifford said:
“While it is welcomed news that the six Chinese consular officials have gone back to China, it is two months too late. For such an attack against pro-democracy protestors to happen in the UK is something which should not and cannot be tolerated.
“The attack highlighted the true reach of the CCP abroad and that it will stop at nothing to silence those who oppose the regime. An assault on protestors is an assault on democracy. The UK Government must do more to see to the safety of those who call the UK home and to ensure they are properly protected from malign forces, especially China.”