EA BBC reporter covering anti-government demonstrations in Shanghai has been arrested and says he was ill-treated by Chinese police. “The BBC is extremely concerned at the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the Shanghai protests,” said a spokesman for the British broadcaster. Lawrence was punched and kicked by police officers during the arrest, even though he was accredited as a journalist. He was only released hours later.
There has been no official explanation or apology for the incident from the Chinese authorities, the spokesman said. The fact that the police claimed upon release that Lawrence had only been taken into custody to protect him from a corona infection in the crowd is “not a credible explanation”.
Protests also in Beijing
Photos and videos were posted online of a man being taken away by police shouting for someone to call the consulate immediately. Lawrence had shortly before on his Twitter account Impressions of the in China extremely unusual protests described, in which he estimates that several hundred people took part.
In the People’s Republic, the strict corona policy at the weekend led to the largest protests in decades. Not only in Shanghai, but also in the capital Beijing and other megacities, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets. Cries of “Down with the Communist Party! Down with the Communist Party! Down with Xi Jinping!” Under the current head of state and party leader, the People’s Republic is pursuing a strict zero-Covid strategy that tries to contain any local flare-up of the virus with rigid isolation methods.
The weekend demonstrations in many cities continued on Monday night. An unknown number of protesters were arrested. In the early hours of the morning, a large contingent of police in the capital Beijing took action against hundreds of protesters near the diplomatic district. As a symbol of resistance and protest against censorship, many demonstrators held up blank white sheets. Slogans like “lift the lockdown” and “we don’t want PCR tests, we want freedom” were shouted.
New infections reach a new high
These are the largest protests in China since the 1989 democracy movement, which was bloodily crushed by the military on June 4 of that year. The trigger for the rare public displeasure this time was an apartment fire in the metropolis of Urumchi in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang on Thursday evening, killing at least ten people. Many people criticized that the extinguishing and rescue work had been hampered by the strict corona measures.
Despite the rigorous action against the virus, the billions of people are currently being hit by the worst corona wave since the pandemic began almost three years ago. The Health Commission reported a record high in the country on Monday with around 40,000 new infections. In Beijing there were almost 3,900 cases.