U.K. police probe “deeply concerning” attack on protester at China’s consulate in Manchester, England

London — The British prime minister’s spokesman said Monday that the reported beating of a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester in the grounds of the Chinese consulate in Manchester, northern England was “deeply concerning.”

U.K. police announced a probe into the Sunday incident after video posted on social media showed a group of men beating up a man lying on the ground inside the gates of the consulate.

“These reports are obviously deeply concerning,” the Downing Street spokesman said, while adding it would be “inappropriate” to comment further while the police probe is ongoing.

The U.K. foreign ministry has not commented.

The BBC reported that an activist from Hong Kong said he was attacked by unidentified men who came out of the consulate.

“They dragged me inside. They beat me up,” he told the broadcaster after the incident.

Greater Manchester Police said they were “aware of an incident that took place at around 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Sunday… at the Chinese Consulate in Manchester”.

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The force said its officers “responded immediately to (defuse) the situation,” and added that it was making “enquiries… to understand the full circumstances.”

Video posted on Twitter showed a grey-haired man in a mask kick and tear down protesters’ banners and scuffles at the gates of the consulate. As people outside the fence, where other protesters were still gathered, asked the police to intervene, one officer can be heard saying, “I can’t go in there.”

After this, a group of men were seen punching a protester lying on the ground inside the fence of the Consulate, watched by the grey-haired man.

The protest took place as China opened its Communist Party Congress, which happens every five years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in a speech on Sunday hailed a “major transition from chaos to governance” in Hong Kong, following a crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told AFP: “We are not aware of the situation you described.” He insisted the embassy and consulates in the U.K. “have throughout abided by the laws of the host country.”

Several senior British politicians earlier condemned the apparent use of violence against a protester.

The newly appointed chair of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Alicia Kearns, tweeted that interior and foreign ministers Suella Braverman and James Cleverly “need to urgently investigate.”

The Chinese Communist Party “will not import their beating of protestors and denial of free speech to British streets,” she wrote.

Influential former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith tweeted the government must “demand a full apology from the Chinese ambassador to the UK.”

Nathan Law, a Hong Kong activist who has fled to the U.K., tweeted: “If the consulate staff responsible are not held accountable, Hongkongers would live in fear of being kidnapped and persecuted.”

He called for Cleverly and Braverman to “investigate and protect our community and people in the UK.”

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