China said Wednesday it has lodged a formal complaint with Britain over an altercation between its diplomats and a Hong Kong protester on the grounds of its Manchester consulate.

British police have said a group of men came out of the consulate during a weekend demonstration, dragging one of the protesters inside the grounds and assaulting him

manchester consulate
Scuffle outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester, UK. Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Leung/The Chaser News.

The incident has drawn widespread condemnation in Britain and triggered an international row that saw the UK foreign office summon a senior Chinese diplomat.

Beijing said Wednesday its diplomats were not to blame for the altercation.

“Due to lawless elements’ malicious harassment and illegal entry to the Chinese Consulate-General in Manchester, this caused Chinese personnel to be wounded and threatened the security of the Chinese premises,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a routine briefing.

Beijing had already “made representations” to British authorities and urged London to do more to protect Chinese diplomats, he added.

Previously, China said the protesters had “illegally entered” the consulate — claims that were missing from an official foreign ministry briefing transcript on Wednesday.

Local police in Manchester have said they are investigating the incident, which the UK prime minister’s office called “deeply concerning” and which sparked an outcry from British lawmakers.

The man involved in the incident, who is in his 30s, sustained injuries and spent the night in hospital, police said.

The newly appointed chair of the UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Alicia Kearns, accused the Chinese Consul-General Zheng Xiyuan, one of Beijing’s most senior UK diplomats, of being at the scene and “ripping down posters” during a “peaceful protest”.

China has not responded to those claims.

The protest took place as China opened its five-yearly Communist Party Congress, where President Xi Jinping is widely expected to be handed a historic third term in power.

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