China has warned of resolute and forceful countermeasures if the United Kingdom does not immediately stop political manipulation and earnestly secure the Chinese embassy and its consulates' normal performance of duties.
The remarks came after China reportedly removed six of its diplomats from the UK, including the consul-general in Manchester, following a violent and disruptive provocation deliberately staged by anti-China elements on Oct 16.
"The facts of the incident on Oct 16 are very clear. The unlawful elements illegally intruded into the consulate premises and assaulted our consulate members," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
According to Wang, a consulate member was beaten up after being pulled out of the consulate general and another consulate member was suffocated and temporarily lost consciousness after being pressed to the ground by an intruder.
An intruder even wore professional fighting gloves, Wang said, noting that these unlawful acts had gravely undermined the safety of consulate officials and the premises.
As a statement issued on Wednesday by the Chinese embassy in the UK has pointed out, the British government failed to effectively prevent the intrusion and assault carried out by these rioters and to protect the premises and members of the Chinese consulate general.
The UK has instead chosen to side with the rioters and point fingers at the relevant Chinese consulate officials who were actually the victims, the statement said, referring to comments recently made by UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly concerning the Oct 16 incident.
"By doing so, the UK side shows no respect for justice and the rule of law, and is being most irresponsible and disgraceful. This is totally unacceptable to the Chinese side, and we have launched solemn representations with the UK," according to the statement.
China urged the UK to reflect on itself, earnestly live up to its obligations under related international laws and the consular agreements between the two countries, stop political manipulation, stop sheltering anti-China elements, and ensure the inviolability of the premises and members of the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions, it added.
"The UK side must be clear that reciprocity is an essential principle in diplomacy. Any act that undermines China's interests will definitely be met with forceful responses," the statement said.
In response to a question about the removal of the Chinese consul-general in Manchester, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the UK said on Wednesday that the consul-general had recently completed his term of office and returned to China upon instruction.
"This is a normal rotation of Chinese consular officials," the spokesperson said in a statement.