A senior BBC cameraman was arrested and beaten up while covering anti-lockdown protests in China yesterday.
The broadcaster says it is “very concerned” after confirming journalist and cameraman Edward Lawrence of its China bureau was attacked in Shanghai on Sunday.
A video shows Lawrence being dragged to the ground in handcuffs, while in another video he is seen saying: “Call the consulate now.”
Protests in China have been gathering pace this weekend, with extremely rare demonstrations taking place against the country’s draconian COVID-19 measures.
Witnessed a BBC journalist got sieged and dragged to the ground by several cops in Shanghai earlier tonight on the Urumqi Rd. His friend said he was targeted becuz he was filming the protest. (feel free to @ his handle if you know who this journalist is ) @BBCNews @BBCNewsAsia pic.twitter.com/tPgoPET3hg
— Shanghaishanghai (@Shanghaishang10) November 27, 2022
“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” says a BBC spokesperson.
“He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest he was beaten and kicked by 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.”
BBC Statement on Ed Lawrence pic.twitter.com/wedDetCtpF
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) November 27, 2022
The British broadcaster claims to have received no official explanation or apology beyond a claim from Chinese authorities that Lawrence was arrested “for his own good” in case he caught COVID from the crowd.
“We do not consider this a credible explanation,” the corporation adds.
Zhao Lijian from China’s foreign ministry contested the BBC statement, claiming that it did not reflect reality and that Lawrence did not identify himself as a journalist.
Lawrence has tweeted about the arrest, which he said came while “doing my job.”
“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,” he says.
A Swiss camera crew was also detained covering the protests in Shanghai on Sunday. Journalist Michael Peuker and his cameraman were surrounded by police while he was live on air but he was allowed to go free after negotiations.
Peuker tweeted that the incident “remains revealing of the treatment of foreign journalists in China. Hindrances, intimidation, harassment on the ground have become commonplace.”
Protests Born From Frustration
The protests currently taking place in China is the largest demonstration of unrest since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
The protests in China are getting bigger. And they’re emerging in multiple places across the country. pic.twitter.com/ZdTj3LJhdR
— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) November 28, 2022
China has tried to stamp out public protests after students and angry residents rebelled against President Xi’s zero-COVID policy.
The policy has seen some Chinese locked down in their apartments for months. People believe that the COVID restrictions contributed to a fatal fire in Shanghai in which ten people died.
Student demonstrators flooded the grounds of two universities in Beijing while crowds in Shanghai chanted “down with the Chinese Communist Party” and openly demanded Xi’s removal.
The authorities have imposed tight security measures today to suppress any further dissent.