A protester who was assaulted after an APEC demonstration claims the attack was the work of Chinese government “thugs,” and a couple members of Congress find the claim credible enough that they’re calling for an investigation.

That whole APEC Summit hullabaloo wrapped up nearly a month ago. But on Tuesday of this week, a Chinese dissident who recently emigrated to California showed evidence he was beaten up after protesting the Chinese government during APEC. And an Associated Press report says that he and multiple organizations claim the Chinese government coordinated attacks on U.S. protesters. They offered no real evidence of this claim, though the FBI has charged Chinese government operatives for doing this in the past.

We certainly have evidence that the victim, 51-year-old Kaiyu Zhang, was beaten in an attack in South San Francisco. As seen in the video above, he and another man (identified only as “Mr. Chau”) were indeed tackled and beaten by a group of Asian men, most of them wearing black, and a couple with armbands. And clearly Zhang was beaten badly enough that he was hospitalized, reportedly overnight.

At a Tuesday press conference by the group Human Rights in China, Zhang said he was “ambushed and assaulted by Pro-CCP thugs in San Francisco airport.” CCP refers to the Chinese Communist Party.

“I thought we were safe in America and should not succumb to any CCP intimidation,” he continued. “So I responded with ‘Fuck CCP’ (and) ‘Fuck Xi Jin Ping.’ These words were not aimed at any of these young men. But strangely they were agitated by these anti-CCP words and immediately speeded up and rushed to us. I was tackled down and was brutally beaten up. I lost consciousness very soon. After the assault, Mr. Chau and I were sent to the hospital and I stayed in the ER until the following day.”

The incident has caught the attention of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), a bipartisan group of Washington, DC lawmakers. A separate AP report says they allege that the attackers “may have ties to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.”

“We, the Chairs of the CECC, strongly condemn the reported violence perpetrated against individuals exercising their rights of freedom of expression and assembly in the United States,” they said in a late November statement. “We urge San Francisco County police to review these reports and pursue justice as appropriate.”

Except this did not happen in San Francisco — it seems to  have happened in South San Francisco. But there is clearly an effort to conflate it with San Francisco, to whip up anti-SF sentiment. South San Francisco police say they are investigating the assault and battery, but haven't made any arrests as of yet.

That said, it is a real thing that the Chinese government has been shown to have surrogates who violently engage with anti-Chinese protesters in other countries, a practice the FBI calls “transnational repression.” But New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith is taking it a step further, claiming that the SF Police Department is taking orders from the Chinese government to allow anti-Chinese protesters to be beaten.

"They stood down and they were ordered. I have no doubt about it in my mind," Smith told the AP.

With all due respect… this jackass, who lives 3,000 miles away and may have never even set foot in San Francisco for all we know, is now saying SFPD is secretly in cahoots with the Chinese government.

The anti-CCP protesters also claim a series of other attacks, none of which are documented. For their part, the Chinese embassy in SF makes the wholly undocumented claim that their own demonstrators were “knocked out, others were beaten to headaches and nose bleeding, still others got hurt at sternums and ribs" in a statement reported by the AP.

It’s difficult to know who to trust here, if anyone. The Chinese government certainly has a horrendous record on human rights, and has meddled with anti-CCP protests in the past. Many U.S. opponents of the Chinese government (the people who give us Shen Yun and Falun Gong), have repeatedly been shown to be misinformation hucksters themselves.

This may just be a random attack, or who knows, maybe the highest levels of the Chinese government were secretly involved or something. It’s more likely that protesters and counter-protesters just got too violent with each other, which happened a couple times during APEC. But law enforcement will investigate these matters, and the PR machines on both sides will try to spin the attacks as them being the victims of large-scale conspiracies.

Related: Man Identified as APEC Volunteer Allegedly Punches Protester as Demonstrations Get More Hostile [SFist]

Image: @KaiyuZhang89 via Twitter