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China covid protests – live: Anti-lockdown dissent in Shanghai spreads to cities worldwide

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China covid protests – live: Anti-lockdown dissent in Shanghai spreads to cities worldwide

Protests against China‘s strict zero-Covid policy and restrictions on freedoms have spread to at least a dozen cities around the world in a show of solidarity with the rare scenes of dissent.

Small-scale vigils and protests have been held in cities in Europe, Asia and North America, including London, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney, organised by expatriate dissidents and students.

“It’s what I should do. When I saw so many Chinese citizens and students take to the streets, my feeling is they have shouldered so much more than we have,” said graduate student Chiang Seeta, one of the organisers of a demonstration in Paris on Sunday that drew about 200 people.

“We’re now showing support for them from abroad,” said Chiang.

Meanwhile, prime minister Rishi Sunak said the detention of a BBC journalist who was covering protests against the country’s zero-Covid policy was “shocking and unacceptable”, a spokesman said.

China is the only major economy to continue with lockdowns, regular testing and quarantine measures for its citizens in order to fight the pandemic. 

Key Points

  • China protests spread to cities around the world
  • Protesters detained in Shanghai as China reaffirms ‘unwavering’ support to zero Covid
  • In pictures: Protesters confront policemen in Beijing
  • BBC accuses Chinese police of ‘beating and kicking’ journalist covering Covid protests
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson says country not aware of any protests 

Watch- China Covid protests explained: Why are people demonstrating

14:21 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Rare protests broke out in China over the weekend as residents railed against the government’s strict “zero Covid” policy.Watch here to learn more about why the unprecedented protests are happening: 

Watch: Chinese police make people delete photos from phones amid anti-lockdown protests

13:56 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Downing Street says government will not conflate right to protest with building ‘constructive relationships' with China

13:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Downing Street said the government would not seek to “conflate” its stance on the right to protest with its intention to build “constructive relationships” with China on other issues.

Asked if Rishi Sunak is concerned that co-operation on matters such as climate change and the global economy will be hampered if he takes a firm line on protests, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We will not seek to conflate the two issues.

“Our position on the importance of the right to protest will not change... and arresting journalists is unacceptable and we will not change that position.

“But that does not mean we will not seek to have constructive relationships with China on other issues and attempt to solve some of these global (problems).” 

China Covid protests: Why are people demonstrating in Shanghai?

13:20 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Matt Mathers explains what the China protests are about and what the response has been so far:

At the height of the Covid pandemic, China imposed a harsh lockdown as it tried to stop the virus from spreading.

The Communist Party-ruled country stopped people from leaving their homes, with pictures showing entire apartment blocks sealed up and residents not allowed out.

Despite much of the rest of the world relaxing restrictions this year, China continues to follow a policy of zero Covid.

This means that citizens are still subject to lockdowns, quarantine and mandatory testing to stop the virus spreading.  

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown
China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

China’s Covid protests explained as demonstrators against lockdown clash with police 

Democracy is the vaccine that China needs most

13:03 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

“Why China? Why the protests across the country? Why the calls for President Xi to stand down, or even for the Chinese Communist Party to end its rule? Why now?

“Ostensibly, it’s because of the zero-Covid policy, and the draconian measures taken by the authorities to achieve what is now an entirely unrealistic policy aim, whatever its theoretical attractions may once have been,” Sean O’Grady writes.

“It is an extremist policy, and should not be necessary to keep Covid cases suppressed at low, manageable levels – particularly at a phase in this post-pandemic environment when less lethal variants are circulating, and when the vaccines are continuing to protect people against the most serious effects of illness.”  

China covid protests – live: Anti-lockdown dissent in Shanghai spreads to cities worldwide
China covid protests – live: Anti-lockdown dissent in Shanghai spreads to cities worldwide© Provided by The Independent

Democracy is the vaccine that China needs most | Sean O’Grady 

Detention of BBC journalist in China was “shocking and unacceptable” - Sunak spokesman

12:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The detention of a BBC journalist in China who was covering protests against the country’s zero-Covid policy was “shocking and unacceptable”, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday.

Britain will raise concerns with China about the response to protests while the government will continue to seek constructive relations with the country on other issues, the spokesman said.

“We will continue to raise our human rights concerns with the Chinese government at all levels as part of a frank and constructive relationship,” he said.

“The arrest of this journalist, who was simply going about their work, is shocking and unacceptable. Journalists must be able to do their jobs without fear of intimidation.” 

China dispute BBC’s statement on arrested journalist

12:29 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The BBC said Chinese police had assaulted one of its journalists covering a protest in the commercial hub of Shanghai and detained him for several hours, drawing criticism from Britain’s foreign minister who said the detention was deeply disturbing.

China disputed the account and said the journalist had not identified himself as a reporter.

“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 British public service broadcaster said in a statement late on Sunday.

“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.”

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said the BBC’s statement did not reflect what had happened. “According to our understanding, the BBC’s statement is not true,” spokesman Zhao Lijian said.

“According to authorities in Shanghai, the journalist in question did not reveal his journalist identity at the time, he did not openly show his foreign press card,” he added.

“When the incident happened, law enforcement personnel asked people to leave, and when certain people did not co-operate, they were taken away from the scene.”

Watch: Chinese police ‘force civilians to delete photos from phones’ amid anti-lockdown protests

12:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Police in China have made people delete photos from their phones amid ongoing anti-lockdown protests, a BBC journalist has said.

Ed Lawrence, who the broadcaster has said was arrested and “beaten” by police, captured officers asking for pictures to be deleted from devices as demonstrations against strict anti-Covid measures broke out across the country.

Protesters are demanding that the zero-Covid policy, in which strict local lockdowns can be imposed if just a few cases are found, be relaxed.

At least three people were arrested on 28 November amid clashes between residents and police in Shanghai. 

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown
China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

Chinese police make people delete photos from phones amid anti-lockdown protests 

China Covid protests: Why are people demonstrating in Shanghai?

11:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Rare protests broke out in China over the weekend as residents railed against the government’s strict “zero Covid” policy.

Widespread demonstrations are unprecedented in the country since the army crushed the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

But over the weekend, citizens in the capital Beijing and Shanghai took to the streets demanding an end to harsh lockdowns.

Matt Mathers has more

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

China’s Covid protests explained as demonstrators against lockdown clash with police 

Live: Hong Kong residents hold vigil for victims of Urumqi fire amid China Covid protests

11:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Hong Kong residents hold a vigil for the victims of an apartment fire in the far western city of Urumqi as part of Asia-wide protest over China’s restrictive coronavirus curbs. 

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

Live: Hong Kong residents hold vigil for victims of Urumqi fire amid China Covid protests 

James Cleverly says China not ‘exempt’ from 'media freedom and freedom to protest’

11:44 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In a tweet this morning, James Cleverly addressed the protests in China which saw a BBC journalist beaten and kicked by Chinese police.

The foreign secretary wrote: “Media freedom and freedom to protest must be respected. No country is exempt.” 

UK foreign secretary calls beating of BBC journalist ‘deeply disturbing'

11:13 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Foreign secretary James Cleverly said the beating of a BBC journalist by Chinese police is “deeply disturbing”.

Grant Shapps also commented that it was of “considerable concern” that cameraman Edward Lawrence was “arrested and handcuffed” while covering demonstrations over China’s Covid-19 restrictions, and then “beaten and kicked” by police.

Mr Shapps told Sky News: “There can be absolutely no excuse whatsoever for journalists who are simply covering the process going on, for being beaten by the police.

“I know that’s (of) considerable concern.”

The business secretary also told LBC radio: “Freedom of press and freedom to report should be sacrosanct.”

He said it was “unacceptable” for journalists to be “caught up and involved and indeed arrested” when they should be “fully entitled to cover things freely”.

Mr Cleverly tweeted: “Media freedom and freedom to protest must be respected. No country is exempt.

“The arrest of BBC journalist EP-Lawrence China is deeply disturbing. Journalists must be able to do their job without intimidation.”

Security minister Tom Tugendhat warned the arrest was “an echo of the repression the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is attempting elsewhere”.

“China’s attempts at state repression here in the UK remind us of the urgent need to defend our own freedoms,” he said on Twitter.

It was reported that China’s foreign ministry contested the BBC statement, claiming Mr Lawrence did not identify himself as a journalist.

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reportedly said the BBC’s account did not reflect what had happened. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson says country not aware of any protests

11:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told a regular briefing on Monday that China was not aware of any protests abroad calling for an end to the zero-Covid policy.

Asked about the protests at home, the spokesperson said the question did not “reflect what actually happened” and said China believed the fight against Covid would be successful with the leadership of the party and the cooperation of the people. 

A protester holds up a sign which reads
A protester holds up a sign which reads© Provided by The Independent

China protests spread to cities around the world

10:51 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Protests against China‘s strict zero-Covid policy and restrictions on freedoms have spread to at least a dozen cities around the world in a show of solidarity with rare displays of defiance in China over the weekend.

Small-scale vigils and protests have been held in cities in Europe, Asia and North America, including London, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney, according to a Reuters tally, organised by expatriate dissidents and students.

Dozens of people attended most of the protests with a few drawing more than 100, the tally showed.

The gatherings are a rare instance of Chinese at home and abroad uniting in anger.

“It’s what I should do. When I saw so many Chinese citizens and students take to the streets, my feeling is they have shouldered so much more than we have,” said graduate student Chiang Seeta, one of the organisers of a demonstration in Paris on Sunday that drew about 200 people.

“We’re now showing support for them from abroad,” said Chiang. 

BBC accuses Chinese police of ‘beating and kicking’ journalist covering Covid protests

10:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The BBC has accused Chinese police of assaulting one of its journalists while they were covering protests against the stringent Covid-19 measures in China.

The broadcaster said on Monday that it was “concerned” over the arrest and treatment of camera operator Edward Lawrence, who it said was “beaten and kicked” in Shanghai on Sunday night.

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

Stuti Mishra reports:

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown
China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

BBC says journalist ‘beaten and kicked’ by police while covering protests in China 

Grant Shapps says ‘no excuse’ for media covering China protests to be beaten by police

10:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Business secretary Grant Shapps said there was “no excuse” for the Chinese police to physically assault mediapersons covering protests after the BBC said its journalist was beaten and detained in Shanghai.

“There can be absolutely no excuse whatsoever for journalists who are simply covering the protests going on, for being beaten by the police,” Mr Shapps told Sky News on Monday.

“I know that’s a considerable concern.”

The BBC has accused the Chinese police of assaulting one of its journalists Edward Lawrence while covering protests against the Communist party’s stringent Covid-19 restrictions in China.

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown
China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

Grant Shapps says ‘no excuse’ for media covering China protests to be beaten 

Shanghai protestors clash with police over strict lockdown policy

10:28 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain
 
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)© Provided by The Independent
  (AFP/Getty)
(AFP/Getty)© Provided by The Independent

In pictures: Protesters confront policemen in Beijing

10:24 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Protestors in Beijing have confronted police as they took to the streets to demonstrate against China’s zero-Covid policy. 

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)© Provided by The Independent
  (AP)
(AP)© Provided by The Independent
  (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)© Provided by The Independent

Protesters detained in Shanghai as China reaffirms ‘unwavering’ support to zero Covid

10:18 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Police in China detained at least three people on Monday after hundreds of angry residents clashed with them in Shanghai as rare protests over China’s stringent zero-Covid policy spilt over to the biggest cities.

China’s Communist Party reiterated the government’s commitment to strict zero-Covid policy as the country recorded the highest number of cases for the fifth straight day on Monday.

A wave of unprecedented anti-government protests against the lockdown as well as calls for greater political freedom has gripped China over Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy three years into the pandemic.

Shweta Sharma has more:

China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown
China protests – live: Shanghai dissent grows as authorities stand firm on Covid lockdown© Provided by The Independent

Protesters detained in Shanghai as China reaffirms support to zero Covid7 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain 

Reference: The Independent: Story by Maryam Zakir-Hussain

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