BBC journalist ‘beaten and kicked by police’ as protests spread across China

CNN Business

Edward Lawrence, a BBC journalist, was arrested by police in Shanghai at the scene of the protests on Sunday night, according to the BBC and as seen in mobile phone footage of the arrest.

While he has since been released, a BBC spokesman expressed extreme concern about his treatment, saying he was “beaten and kicked by the police”.

Protests have broken out across China in a rare show of dissent against the ruling Communist Party, fueled by anger over the country’s increasingly costly zero-Covid policy.

Among the thousands of protesters, hundreds have even called for the removal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who for nearly three years has overseen a strategy of mass testing, brute force lockdowns, forced quarantines and digital surveillance that has taken a devastating toll. and economic cost.

The BBC statement reads in full: “The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai. He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.”

The statement continued, “It is deeply disturbing that one of our journalists was attacked in this way while on duty. We have had no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond the claim of the officials who later released him that they had arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid from the crowd. We do not consider it a credible explanation.”

Public protests are extremely rare in China, where the Communist Party has tightened its grip on all aspects of life, launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent, wiped out much of civil society and built a high-tech surveillance state.

At least two clips of the arrest were posted online by a Twitter user who says they witnessed the scene. A video, shot from above, shows at least four police officers standing over a handcuffed man, whose face is hidden.

In a second video of a man wearing the same clothes, Lawrence’s face is clearly recognizable as police speed him away and then shout: “Call the consulate now.”

The witness who shared the videos said they saw the journalist being “besieged and dragged to the ground by several police officers”.

It is unclear what happened before Lawrence was arrested. The video available online begins with his arrest and does not show what happened before.

CNN has reached out to China’s foreign ministry for comment on the incident. Chinese authorities have yet to make any public statements on the matter.

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