BBC says reporter arrested, beaten at Shanghai COVID protest

The BBC said Sunday that one of its reporters was arrested and beaten by Chinese authorities while covering protests in Shanghai over COVID-19 restrictions.

China is seeing rare outpourings of public frustration in recent days in response to strict COVID lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the virus.

In a statement on Sunday, the BBC said journalist Ed Lawrence was kicked and handcuffed for hours after being arrested while covering demonstrations in the country’s economic hub.

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Video circulated online showing Lawrence being arrested and detained by a group of Chinese authorities. In another video, he appears to tell colleagues to “call the consulate” while being pulled away by police.

“It is very worrying that one of our journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his duties,” an BBC spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”

The BBC said it is “extremely concerned” about Lawrence’s treatment in the country.

China’s “zero COVID” strategy has led to a series of lockdowns all around the country, as cases soar to record levels in some places.

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha told anchor Martha Raddatz that China’s strategy toward COVID-19 is not realistic.

“Obviously, that is not our strategy,” Jha said. “We don’t think that’s realistic, certainly not realistic for the American people. Our strategy has been build up immunity in the population by getting people vaccinated. That’s how you managed an incredibly contagious variant like omicron.”

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