Protests against strict COVID restrictions have increased across China. A British journalist was also beaten and kicked off the streets by police.
On Sunday night, demonstrators and police clashed at Shanghai. However, they were forcefully removed by officers using pepper spray just a few hours before.
Helen-Ann Smith, Sky’s Helen, said that the atmosphere in Shanghai today was “very, very tense”. She also stated that it is unsafe to film near the protest site due to the presence of police.
She claimed she saw a man being “dragged away from the area” and was not sure what he did.
It was the third night of chaos that swept across the country, reaching some of the largest cities like Wuhan, which was the epicenter of the coronavirus nearly three years ago.
BBC reported that Ed Lawrence was an “accredited journalist” and was “beaten and kicked” by police while covering protests.
Social media footage showed him being dragged down to the ground in cuffs. In another video, he said: “Call us now.”
Officials claim that Lawrence was taken into custody “for his own safety” because he had COVID caught from the crowd. However, the BBC claimed it was “extremely concerned about his treatment” and said that he was kept for many hours before being released.
China’s foreign ministry stated that Lawrence didn’t identify himself as a journalist, and that the BBC’s statement did not “reflect what actually happened”.
Sky News was told by Grant Shapps, Business Secretary, that journalists covering protests were not allowed to be beaten by police.
Sky News’ Shanghai team had seen police move quickly and decisively. This prompted protesters to attempt to disperse the group. However, they did not flee.
On Monday morning, police also arrested several people walking in Shanghai.
Protests against President Xi Jinping ‘s zero- CoVID lockdown have been taking place outside of the Far East. Between 100 and 300 people gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in London.
Sky News was told by a woman representing a group called China Deviants that they were angry at President Xi’s government because “people in China are being oppressed.”
She said: “We have been oppressed since years, for decades and we want that to change.” We must stand up to this authoritarian regime.”
She stated that, like many of her Chinese compatriots, their anger was boiling over after a fire broke out in Urumqi’s city on Thursday , which claimed the lives of at least 10 .
For more than three months, the city was under strict lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus under China’s “zero COVID” policy.
Analysis – Why this is a major threat to the ruling Communist Party
China’s zero COVID policy has transformed cities into digital fortresses
Beijing “effectively under lockdown”
The Chinese epicentre is where the lockdown frustration grows
Social media videos showed a swathe of water coming from a distant firetruck, but it was too short to put out the flame, prompting angry comments online. Some claimed that fire engines were blocked by pandemic control barriers, or cars that became stranded after their owners were placed in quarantine. However, this is not confirmed.
The woman covered her face in fear of being punished and said, “It sparked anger.” We rise up to speak out for these people. We stand for justice.”
China Deviants is an international non-profit organization that is asking for other people to join them in “rejecting dictatorship.”
The group released a statement saying: “We are committed in awakening the Chinese people to the dictatorship, letting them realise that: A non-elected government cannot be the voice of the Chinese people.
“We need democracy, freedom, and we reject dictatorship.”
Amnesty International described the return of protesters to Shanghai as an act of “remarkable courage”.
China continues to adhere to its strict zero-COVID policy, even though much of the world is trying to live with the coronavirus.
On Sunday, the country set a new daily record for 40,347 COVID-19 infection.