China has pulled six of its diplomats from the United Kingdom after British police wanted to question them over an alleged assault on a pro-Democracy protester at one of their consulate offices.
The Chinese consul general and five of his staff were removed after British police wanted to question the six officials over the assault on protester Bob Chen, who said masked men came out from the consulate building in Manchester during a peaceful protest in October, dragged him into the consulate grounds and beat him up, according to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
Police said officers at the scene had to intervene and remove Chen, who suffered injuries to his face and back.
Cleverly said Britain’s Foreign Office requested Beijing waive the diplomatic immunity of the six officials to allow police investigating the matter to question them.
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However, Chinese officials opted instead to recall the diplomats back to China
“In response, the Chinese Embassy, acting on instructions from Beijing, notified His Majesty’s Government that the functions of the Consul General in Manchester have come to an end and he has returned to China,” Cleverly said. He added that the other staff have “either left the United Kingdom or will shortly do so.”
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In a statement, Chen said that the removal of the Chinese diplomats has given him some “closure.”
“It has been two months since I was attacked in Manchester by staff members of the Chinese Consulate,” he said. “What happened on 16 October 2022 was unacceptable and illegal, and the withdrawal of these Chinese diplomats gives me a sense of closure.”
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China’s foreign ministry maintained at the time of the incident that Chen had illegally entered the consulate, and that Chinese diplomatic staff have the right to maintain security on their premises.
The Associated Press contributed to this report