A Chinese spokesman said “protecting shelter to the Hong Kong independent elements” would “bring disaster to Britain” in the wake of a fight between Chinese consulate staff and pro-democracy protestors outside the Chinese embassy in Manchester.
During a recent online press conference, Minister Yang Xiaoguang remarked that the China-U.K. relationship is a “win-win” and “good for the world,” but he also warned that agitation for Hong Kong’s independence is “dangerous” and “aimed at splitting China.”
He said the movement is intended to fracture China-U.K. diplomacy, too, as “a few number of people, our of their selfish motivations, are trying to provoke confrontation between China and the U.K.”
He also referenced an Aesop’s Fable “where the farmer showed sympathy to the snake, but finally” was bitten by the snake.
In other statements posted to Twitter, he called on Britain to “fulfill its responsibilities” to protect Chinese diplomats after video circulated showing the China embassy’s consul-general kicking down protest banners and dragging a protestor by the hair onto embassy grounds, where he was beaten by a group of men.
Recent years have seen Chinese crackdowns in Hong Kong following massive protests in 2019 over a proposed law allowing criminal extradition to China. Hong Kong had for over two decades balanced capitalism and democracy with Chinese administration under a “one country, two systems” policy.
The spokesman said “Hong Kong is part of China” and that “Hong Kong independence … is not supported by the British side.” This summer, the U.K.’s then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Beijing is threatening “the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers and the continued progress and prosperity of their home.”
Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan told Sky News it had been his “duty” to pull the protestor by his hair into the Chinese consulate because he had been “abusing my country, my leader.”
The U.K. had a meeting with a Chinese official following the incident, which a conservative member of U.K. Parliament criticized as “a gentle rap on the knuckles,” according to the BBC.
U.K. Foreign Office Minister Jesse Norman said harsher punishments would have to wait for an investigation.
“Let me be clear: if the police determine there are grounds to charge any officials, we would expect the Chinese consulate to waive immunity for those officials. If they do not, then diplomatic consequences will follow,” he said.