UPDATED: Reports of protester beating at China consulate concerning – UK PM’s spokesperson

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LONDON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s spokesperson said on Monday an apparent assault of a protester inside the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester was concerning after video emerged of him being beaten by several men.

In video footage posted by the BBC, a man in a black cap and ponytail was hauled through a gate into the consular grounds, where he was kicked and punched by five men as he lay on the ground during a demonstration against President Xi Jinping.

“These reports are obviously deeply concerning,” the spokesperson told reporters. “I understand Greater Manchester Police responded immediately to the incident. I am conscious that their enquiries are ongoing so it would be inappropriate for me to comment beyond that.”

Police in the British city of Manchester are investigating an incident involving a protester who appeared to have been pulled inside the grounds of the Chinese consulate and beaten, after a demonstration against Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In video footage posted online, a man was seen to be pulled by several men through a gate into the Chinese consular grounds in Manchester, and then beaten by several men. Police on the scene eventually stepped through the gate and pulled the man out.

Several protest banners had earlier been placed outside the consulate, one with the words, “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party”, and a caricature of Xi wearing a crown, according to pictures provided to Reuters by a freelance journalist on the scene.

The protest took place on the first day of the twice-a-decade congress of China’s ruling Communist Party in Beijing, during which Xi is widely expected to win a third leadership term.

“Greater Manchester Police are aware of an incident that took place at around 3pm on Sunday 16 October 2022 at the Chinese Consulate in Manchester,” a police spokesperson told Reuters in a written response.

“Officers were present and responded immediately to diffuse the situation. Enquiries are ongoing at this time to understand the full circumstances.”

There was no immediate reply to Reuters requests for comment from the Chinese consulate in Manchester and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.

Matthew Leung, a freelance journalist on the scene and friend of the man who was beaten, told Reuters by phone he was “shocked” by the incident.

The man who was beaten, who Leung said is known by the first name, Bob, had cuts to his face afterwards, Leung said. The man didn’t immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment via a messaging app.

Reporting by James Pomfret in Hong Kong, Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Lincoln Feast

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