BEIJING – China said Friday that a Chinese diplomat in the U.S. was beaten and injured by Houston police and urged an investigation to ensure diplomatic practices are not violated.
The U.S. State Department was taking the matter very seriously and findings of the investigation would be shared with China "as soon as appropriate," said Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
She referred further questions to Houston police, which did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday morning.
The statement from China's Foreign Ministry said police harassed and beat a deputy consul-general while he was driving to the Chinese Consulate in Houston. The statement said a family member also was involved, but did not say if that person was injured.
According to a CBS News report, Houston police last Saturday tried to stop a car which was missing a license plate. When the car didn't stop, they pursued it into a garage without realizing the garage belonged to the Chinese Consulate. Police handcuffed and arrested the driver, injuring him, the CBS report said.
Under international practice, the premises of foreign embassies and consulates are outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, and diplomats have legal immunity.
The CBS News report identified the official as Ben Ren Yu. The Houston consulate website lists a deputy consul-general, Yu Boren.
"China urges the U.S. ... to quickly investigate the details of this incident and to look into the persons responsible to ensure that the Chinese diplomatic and consulate personnel and premises are not violated," said the statement attributed to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. "The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy and the Houston consulate have already made solemn exchanges with the U.S. side."
U.S.-China relations only recently emerged from a tense period aggravated by spats over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, trade and Chinese currency policy. Comments on at least two major Internet portals had apparently been deleted, an indication the case was considered sensitive, perhaps because of its impact on U.S.-China ties.