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BBC reporter arrested in Chinese protests against mass testing and confinements

Monday, November 28th 2022 - 09:49 UTC
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Images on social media showed Shanghai police officers dragging the handcuffed journalist along the ground Images on social media showed Shanghai police officers dragging the handcuffed journalist along the ground

Ed Lawrence, a reporter from the BBC's office in Beijing, was beaten, kicked, and arrested by Chinese police during his coverage of the anti-zero-covid policy protests, it was reported.

“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was detained and handcuffed while covering protests in Shanghai,” a BBC spokesman said in a statement. The document also mentioned that Lawrence had been “beaten and kicked by police” during the several hours of detention.

Images on social media showed Shanghai police officers dragging the handcuffed journalist along the ground. Lawrence had traveled from Beijing to cover the ongoing events.

Crowds demonstrated over the weekend in several Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, against the confinements and restrictions imposed by the authorities in their fight against Covid-19.

Lawrence, who was eventually released, was held for several hours. “During his detention, he was beaten and kicked by police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist,” the BBC explained. “It is very disturbing that one of our journalists has been attacked in this way in the performance of his duties,” a spokesman for the corporation went on.

The BBC said a statement had been received from Chinese officials saying that Lawrence had been arrested “for his own good in case he caught coronavirus in the crowd” in Shanghai. “We do not consider this to be a credible explanation,” the broadcaster's spokesman said.

According to Lawrence's Twitter profile, the Police were blocking the roads and were not letting people through, after the crowd increased. “I have seen the Police arrest three people, two of whom confronted the officers. There is silent tension until one person shouts, then the crowd chants and claps in support,” he posted after noting that the protests were peaceful with a lot of police control.

Rage is growing across China against the draconian “zero-covid” policy in force for nearly three years. In Shanghai, a city of more than 25 million people that endured a two-month lockdown this year that led to food shortages, demonstrators marched silently displaying blank leaves - a gesture that has become a symbol of protest against censorship in China - and white flowers.

According to AFP, there were also people near Wulumuqi Street chanting “Xi Jinping, resign, resign!” In Urumqi, in the Xinjiang region (west), ten people died Thursday in a fire. The incident generated outrage on social networks because confinements complicated the rescue of the victims, AFP also reported.

China is the last major economy to maintain a “zero covid” strategy, with mass lockdowns. Mass testing recorded 39,506 infections nationwide, a record number for a country of 1.4 billion people.

Categories: Politics, International.

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