The Chinese Embassy in London has warned protecting Hong Kong protesters will “bring disaster to Britain” after a man was beaten up inside China’s Manchester consulate.
In a video released by the embassy on Thursday, a spokesman made the most direct trade threat to the UK since footage showed Hong Kong protester Bob Chan being pulled inside the Manchester consulate grounds and beaten up by its staff on 16 October.
The consul-general was spotted pulling Mr Chan’s hair and told Sky News last week it was his “duty” as he said Mr Chan was “abusing my country, my leader”.
Thursday’s clip was entitled: “Online press conference on the violent harassment of the Chinese consulate general in Manchester.”
There was no media present and no questions were taken.
The video has been met with indignation by MPs and human rights campaigners in the UK.
In it, the spokesman warned: “Providing shelter to the Hong Kong independent elements will only, in the end, bring disaster to Britain.”
He said he wanted to “remind” people of the Aesop’s Fable about the farmer and the snake “where the farmer showed sympathy to the snake but finally got bitten by the snake”.
He spoke at length about how much the UK relies on China as its third-largest trading partner and “number one source of imports”.
“British exports to China also increased sharply so we see this relationship to be win-win and mutually beneficial,” he said.
“China attaches great importance to the relationship with the UK and we are willing to develop further co-operation with the UK on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
“This is good for both sides and good for the world.”
He added that a “few” people with “selfish motivations” are trying to provoke confrontation between China and the UK which “is dangerous and bad for both sides”, he said.
Alicia Kearns, the new chair of the foreign affairs committee, said the threats were sadly to be expected from China.
“The lack of contrition from CCP (the Chinese Communist Party) over what was a shocking assault is concerning, if not wholly surprising,” she said.
“It is, sadly, consistent with Beijing’s aggressive foreign policy under Xi and why we have seen diplomatic relations with China become increasingly strained across the world.”
Human rights campaigner Luke de Pulford, executive director of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, said the UK government needs to stamp down on China’s trade threats and human rights abuses.
He told Sky News: “What looks more like a snake?
“Hong Kongers who have been forced out of their homes for standing up for democracy, or the Chinese Communist Party which metes out genocide, tears up treaties, whose diplomats beat up protesters, and which operates illegal police stations to persecute dissidents?
“I know which I’d prefer, and the government needs to make plain their displeasure at China’s brazen hubris now.”
The government, under Liz Truss, has said it will wait until a police investigation into the Manchester consulate incident concludes before deciding what to do with those staff involved.
Rishi Sunak, who took over as PM on Tuesday, has not yet made a comment about the incident.
Other MPs, both Tory and Labour, have called for the consul general involved in the attack to be sent straight back to China.
Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who is sanctioned by China, said any Chinese consulate staff involved in the attack should be expelled, made to apologise and made persona non grata.
He said it should be a political decision and the government should not wait for the police investigation to finish as there is video evidence, some which was put out by the Chinese embassy.