In worrying news around the ongoing mass anti-Covid restrictions protests across China, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has expressed concern over the treatment meted out by Chinese authorities to its journalist, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering a similar ongoing protest in Shanghai.
In a statement, BBC showed concern over the reports that its journalist in China, Ed Lawrence, was beaten up and kicked by the police while he was being arrested.
“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,” BBC said.
The BBC said it is very worrying that one of their accredited journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his official 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,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, huge protests continue across many cities in China. In an unprecedented show of defiance against the zero-Covid policy, protestors are even heard chanting “Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party,” according to a CNN report.
This large-scale protest was apparently sparked by an apartment block fire in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province, which killed at least 10 people on Thursday and has acted as a catalyst for searing public anger.
According to media reports, much of the demonstration started as videos emerged that seemed to suggest lockdown measures delayed firefighters from reaching the victims.
From the capital Beijing to the financial hub of Shanghai, people reportedly gathered to mourn the dead from the Xinjiang fire, while holding protests against zero-Covid policies.
By Sunday evening, on dozens of university campuses, students demonstrated or put up protest posters. Protests also spread to Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan, where residents called for an end to Covid restrictions.
At Tsinghua University, in the capital city Beijing, students gathered on a square to protest against zero-Covid.
Videos and images circulating on social media show students holding up sheets of white paper and shouting: “Democracy and rule of law! Freedom of expression!” According to CNN, residents in locked-down neighborhoods tore down barriers and took to the streets, following mass anti-lockdown protests in Urumqi on Friday.
Such widespread scenes of anger and defiance are rare in China, where the ruling Communist Party clamps down on all forms of dissent. However, the increase in Covid restrictions long detested across the country has brought matters to a head.