BBC ‘extremely concerned’ after journalist arrested during China Covid demonstrations

The BBC has said it is “extremely concerned” after one of its journalists was arrested while covering protests in the Chinese city of Shanghai.

Reporter and cameraman Ed Lawrence was arrested by Chinese authorities and allegedly beaten during demonstrations on Sunday night. Video footage believed to be of Mr Lawrence being manhandled by Chinese police is circulating on social media. He was later released.

Widespread protests have broken out in China in a rare display of public defiance over stringent Covid lockdowns as part of the government’s “zero Covid” strategy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Crowds in cities across the country have demanded the resignation of President Xi Jinping during protests against measures that confine millions of people to their homes, as cases of the virus rise in China. The demonstrations began after a deadly apartment fire in Xinjiang province sparked a national outcry as many blamed Covid restrictions for the deaths.

A protester shouts slogans against China's strict zero COVID measures on November 28, 2022 in Beijing, China. Protesters took to the streets in multiple Chinese cities after a deadly apartment fire in Xinjiang province sparked a national outcry as many blamed Covid restrictions for the deaths.

Mr Lawrence said he believed one Chinese national had also been arrested after stepping in to help him. The BBC said it had been told by Chinese authorities that Mr Lawrence had been arrested “for his own good” in case he caught Covid from the crowd, which the broadcaster said it did not consider a “credible explanation”.

A statement from the BBC said: “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.

"It is very worrying that one of our journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his duties. We have had no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by 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 this a credible explanation."

Mr Lawrence, who was on Monday morning still reporting on the situation in Shanghai, said on Twitter: “I understand at least one local national was arrested after trying to stop the police from beating me. Thanks very much for the kind words and messages of concern.”