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HomeWorld NewsUK Minister Promises ‘Diplomatic Consequences’ If Chinese Consulate Doesn’t Waive Immunity

UK Minister Promises ‘Diplomatic Consequences’ If Chinese Consulate Doesn’t Waive Immunity

MPs call for expulsion of Zheng Xiyuan after his admission to pulling protester’s hair

Chinese Diplomats at the Consulate General in Manchester will be prosecuted or face “diplomatic consequences” if police find they have committed crimes when beating a protester, a British minister said on Thursday.

During an urgent question session in Parliament on Thursday, some lawmakers urged the government to immediately declare Consul General Zheng Xiyuan persona non grata instead of waiting for the Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) investigation to conclude.

It comes after Zheng admitted to pulling the hair of pro-democracy Hong Kong protester Bob Chan on Oct. 16 and said it was his “duty” to do so.

Chan was dragged onto the consular ground and beaten by a group of men who appeared to be consulate staff when the group tried to take a banner by force.

Some of Chan’s hair was ripped off. He also sustained minor injuries on his head and body.

A man who appeared to be a consular staff member was filmed lying on the ground and being kicked several times during the scuffle, but the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on Wednesday said they had not received reports of other injuries.

Making a statement in Parliament, Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) minister Jesse Norman said, “If the police determined that 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.”

Responding to earlier criticisms from MPs, Norman said that the FCDO had summoned the Chinese chargé d’affaires on Tuesday because Chinese ambassador Zhen Zeguang has been out of the UK since before the incident.

He also defended Foreign Secretary James James Cleverly’s decision not to meet the Chinese chargé d’affaires in person, saying the last time an ambassador was summoned to a meeting with the foreign minister was following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “which gives you a sense of the way in which the diplomatic niceties work out.”

MPs said the government has been too slow to respond.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called on the minister to declare that individuals involved in the assault “will be made persona non grata immediately and sent back to China” regardless of whether there will be criminal proceedings.

Labour MP Chris Bryant said the time for diplomatic niceties is “long, long past,” arguing the Chinese communist regime would not care about diplomatic niceties.

Bryant said the FCDO should urge the Chinese ambassador to return to Britain to meet with the foreign minister and that the consul general should be expelled “tomorrow,” because “he’s clearly been engaged in something which would have got him arrested if it had happened on the streets of the United Kingdom.”

Other MPs urged the government to take steps to protect the Hong Kong community in the UK from immediate threats.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, official consular staff are immune from criminal charges if the crime warrants less than five years of imprisonment, but consulate staff from a number of countries, including China, may enjoy enhanced immunity, depending on the conventions agreed upon.

Lily Zhou


Lily Zhou is an Irish-based reporter focusing on UK news. Lily first joined the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times before turning her focus on the UK in 2020. Contact Lily at

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