BBC Journalist ‘Beaten And Kicked’ By Communist China’s Police
Police officers stand guard during a protest in Beijing, China, on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Protests against Covid restrictions spread across China on Sunday as citizens took to the streets and university campuses, venting their anger and frustrations on local officials and the Communist Party.
Getty Images: Bloomberg

Chinese police arrested a journalist for the BBC who was covering the massive protests that were breaking out across the country in responses to the communist nation’s draconian coronavirus lockdown measures.

The protests reportedly began on Thursday after ten people were killed in a fire at a residential high-rise building in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang autonomous region. Videos of the incident posted on social media spawned accusations that lockdowns contributed to the deaths, the New York Times and Reuters reported. Residents of the city have been locked down and prevented from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days at a time, Reuters added.

Outside Shanghai, major cities and college campuses were also the scenes of major protests. Reuters reported that demonstrations broke out in the cities of Wuhan, Chengdu, Lanzhou, and Beijing on Sunday. Protests in Wuhan reportedly turned violent, with demonstrators smashing through metal barricades, overturning testing tents, and demanding an end to lockdowns. The New York Times reported another protest in the city of Korla in northern Xinjiang.

Journalist Edward Lawrence, who has since been released, was seen being roughed up by the Chinese police in videos that went viral on social media.

The BBC released a statement saying that it was “extremely concerned” about the deteriorating situation in China and how the nation’s authorities were treating reporters.

“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” the publication said. “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,” the statement continued. “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.”

Lawrence posted another video since the incident where he showed police were forcing people to show authorities their phones and then were forcing those people to delete photos and videos from the protests.

John Rigolizzo contributed to this report.

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