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Chinese Consulate: Violence against Demonstrators

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2022

20. What recent assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the violence against demonstrators at the consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester on 16 October 2022. (902122)

The apparent behaviour of Chinese officials in Manchester is unacceptable. We have made it clear to China that freedom of protest must be respected. If the police determine that there are grounds to charge any Chinese diplomats, we would expect China to waive immunity. There will be diplomatic consequences should China not agree to co-operate in this way.

I do not think that is good enough. The violence by consular officials on the streets of Manchester is unacceptable, as the Minister says, but this is just the visible tip of the iceberg of secret police stations—consular activities by the Chinese to police and intimidate people in this country. To stop this unacceptable activity, will she consider reducing the number of Chinese diplomats who are allowed into this country?

This issue is with the Greater Manchester police and, because we are a country that believes in following the rule of law, we are waiting for it to complete its investigations. At that point, the Foreign Secretary will determine how to proceed.

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that we are not making the same mistake in respect of China that we made in respect of Russia, which is to believe that increasing our economic ties and interdependence will enable an authoritarian country to mend its ways? It did not work in the case of Russia, and it will not work in the case of China either.

My right hon. Friend is extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful on these issues. I offer him this thought as we await the completion of the police investigation: our approach to China is co-ordinated across Government, and the FCDO is at the heart of the cross-Whitehall strategic approach to China in line with the integrated review, which is presently being refreshed. I know he will understand that, in due course, our position will be set out clearly.