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BBC scribe covering Covid protests assaulted, detained in China, govt says 'for his own good'

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Beijing, Nov 28: A BBC journalist covering the ongoing protests against stringent zero-Covid policy in China was assaulted and arrested in China, the media house said in a statement.

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"The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai," Reuters quoted a spokesperson for the British public service broadcaster as saying in a statement.

BBC scribe covering Covid protests assaulted, detained in China, govt says for his own good

The media house has claimed that he was detained 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," the spokesperson added.

'Xi Jinping, step down!': Protesters in China chant against Covid restrictions'Xi Jinping, step down!': Protesters in China chant against Covid restrictions

A video of the purported incident is now doing rounds on social media sites. In the clip, a man whom other journalists identified as Lawrence could be seen being arrested by men in police uniforms.

The BBC has claimed that the authorities have not given a credible explanation over his detention. "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 media house said.

Public outrage in China:

In a rare instance, China is witnessing a public outrage against China's authoritarian government and its president Xi Jinping over China's strict COVID-19 restrictions. In several videos doing rounds on social media sites, protestors were heard asking Chinese President 'Xi Jinping to step down and the clips have gone viral on social media sites. More importantly, they are voices which are calling for "freedom of speech" and "democracy".

"I'm here because I love my country, but I don't love my government... I want to be able to go out freely, but I can't. Our COVID-19 policy is a game and is not based on science or reality," protester Shaun Xiao told the Reuters news agency in Shanghai.

China's Covid policy thus far:

While the majority of the countries across the world have lifted Covid 19-related curbs, China has continued with its strict zero-Covid policy which has met with resentment among its population and sparked sporadic protests throughout the country. Residents in many cities have taken to street to vent their anger against the lockdowns and closures of businesses.

What triggered the fresh protests was a fire in a residential high-rise in Urumqi, where many residents have been placed under lockdown in which 10 people were killed.

The People's Republic of China has an authoritarian political system which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping was re-elected as General Secretary of Communist Party of China for a record third five-year term.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director Hana Young has urged China not "abuse policies." "The Chinese government must immediately review its Covid-19 policies to ensure that they are proportionate and time-bound. All quarantine measures that pose threats to personal safety and unnecessarily restrict freedom of movement must be suspended," Aljazeera quotes him as saying.

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