China has removed six of its officials from the UK, including the consul general, after British authorities wanted to question them about the assault of Hong Kong protester outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester.
"I am disappointed that these individuals will not be interviewed or face justice," British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement. "Nonetheless, it is right that those responsible for the disgraceful scenes in Manchester are no longer – or will shortly cease to be - consular staff accredited to the UK," he added.
British police have launched an investigation into the October assault on Bob Chan who was beaten by several masked men and dragged inside the consulate grounds in Manchester while he was protesting outside.
The police had requested Chinese officials to waive their diplomatic immunity so that they could be questioned, with Wednesday as the deadline for their response.
"In response to our request, the Chinese government have now removed from the UK those officials, including the consul general himself," Cleverly told reporters.
The Greater Manchester police said that they would continue their investigation.
Alicia Kearns, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the Chinese diplomats "cowards" for returning to China, adding that it showed their "guilt" in the beating of the protester. She called for the Foreign Office to ensure "they are never again welcome in the UK."