A week after a Hong Kong national was assaulted at the Chinese consulate in Manchester, England, hundreds in the U.K. gathered in separate local protests to denounce China and demand freedom for Hong Kong.
The Manchester protest, called “Say No to China,” took place at St. Peter’s Square at around 4 p.m. on Sunday, the Manchester Evening News reported. The event began with the playing of “God Save the King” outside Central Library, followed by “Glory to Hong Kong.”
Over the next two hours, various speakers came forward to voice their support for Hong Kong’s independence from China. Attendees reportedly carried signs with phrases such as “Expel China”, “Free Hong Kong” and even “Hang Xi Jinping.”
Similar signs were raised during the protest that took place outside the Chinese consulate on Denison Road in Manchester’s Rusholme last week. The demonstration resulted in a violent scuffle that saw several masked people drag a protester by his hair and beat him up on the grounds of the consulate.
“Let me say it again so I am clear: I was dragged into the consulate. I did not attempt to enter the consulate,” Bob Chan, the pro-Hong Kong independence protester who was assaulted, said at a news conference in the British Parliament on Wednesday. “I held onto the gates where I was kicked and punched, I could not hold on for long. I was eventually pulled onto the ground of the consulate.”
Last week, Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan, one of Manchester’s most senior Chinese diplomats, admitted to pulling Chan by the hair but claimed his actions were a call of “duty.” He also alleged that Chan “refused to let go” of a staff member and thus “plunged into the property himself.”
Similar protests took place on Sunday elsewhere in the U.K., including London, Nottingham and Reading. Videos posted on Twitter show Londoners battling a rainstorm to reach the Chinese embassy in their city and deliver their message.
Meanwhile, some demonstrators reportedly expressed gratitude for the Greater Manchester Police, who have been praised since pulling Chan away from the Chinese consulate’s grounds. The force continues to investigate the incident.
“Let me be clear that if the police determine there are grounds to charge any officials, we would expect the Chinese Consulate to waive immunity for those officials,” Foreign Office Minister Jesse Norman said on Thursday. “If they do not, then diplomatic consequences will follow.”
Featured Image via Tom Molloy (@TOMolloyMEN)
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