BBC journalist 'beaten and kicked by police' as protests spread across China |  CNN Business

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

CNN Business

BBC journalist Edward Lawrence was arrested by Shanghai police at the scene of the protests on Sunday evening, according to the BBC and as captured in what appears to be mobile phone footage of the arrest.

Although he has since been released, a BBC spokesperson said he was extremely concerned about his treatment, saying he had been “beaten and kicked by the police”.

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

Among the thousands of protesters, hundreds even called for the removal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who for nearly three years oversaw a strategy of mass testing, brute-force lockdowns, forced quarantines and digital tracking that has had a devastating human impact. 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 protests in Shanghai. He was detained 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 very worrying that one of our journalists has been attacked in this way in the line of duty. We have had no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him that they arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid from the mob . We do not consider this to be a credible explanation.

At a regular press briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian acknowledged Lawrence’s detention but said he did not identify himself as a journalist before being taken away. by the police.

“China always invites foreign journalists to report in the country according to law and has provided a lot of help,” Zhao said. “At the same time, foreign journalists must comply with Chinese regulations when reporting in China.”

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 have been uploaded by a Twitter user who says he witnessed the scene. A clip, filmed from above, shows at least four police officers standing over a handcuffed man whose face is obscured.

In a second clip of a man wearing the same clothes, Lawrence’s face is clearly identifiable, as police quickly drag him away, then shout, “Call the consulate now.”

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

It’s unclear what happened prior to Lawrence’s arrest. The video available online begins with his arrest and does not show what happened before.

In an interview with Sky News on Monday, the UK government called Lawrence’s arrest of “considerable concern”.

“There can be no excuse for a journalist who was simply covering the ongoing process to be beaten by the police,” UK Business Secretary Grant Shapps said.

Lawrence was not the only foreign journalist detained by Chinese police on Sunday. Michael Peuker, China correspondent for Swiss broadcaster RTS, was also briefly detained while covering a live protest in Shanghai, RTS said.

“The tension is at its height here. As proof, I am now surrounded by three police officers, I will be taken to the police station after this live hit,” Peuker said on air. “I will leave you now and go to the police station,” he added.

Peuker said on Twitter that he was released moments later.

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