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China ramps up security in Shanghai after COVID protests

November 28, 2022

Authorities in Shanghai were seen putting up barriers following protests against COVID-19 measures. Meanwhile, a British minister condemned the arrest of a BBC journalist who was covering the demonstrations.

Chinese police at anti-COVID-19 demonstrations
Security forces put up barriers in Shanghai city center following demonstrations that occurred over the weekendImage: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Chinese authorities beef up police presence after protests

Shanghai authorities ramped up security in the city on Monday after hundreds of people protested against COVID-19 measures.

There was no sign of fresh protests on Monday in Shanghai as barriers were placed around the city center.

On Sunday, protesters chanted slogans against President Xi Jinping and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Demonstrations spread to various cities outside of China on Monday, as people showed solidarity with the protesters. Small-scale vigils and protests, organized by Chinese expats and overseas students, were seen in cities including London, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney.

World leaders call on China to respect protests

Washington supports the right of people in China to peacefully protest, a US National Security Council spokesperson said in response to demonstrations in Shanghai and elsewhere.

"We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, here in the United States and around the world. This includes in the PRC (People's Republic of China)," the spokesperson said.

"We think it’s going to be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to be able to contain this virus through their zero COVID strategy," he added.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Beijing to "take notice" of the protest.

"Protests against the Chinese government are rare and when they do happen I think the world should take notice, but I think the Chinese government should take notice," he said.

He added that it was "clear that the Chinese people are deeply unhappy ... about the restrictions imposed upon them."

Co-leader of the Germany's Greens, Omid Nourpour, praised the protests, saying that they showed the "bravery" of many people.

"It is impressive and unusual to see that these protests are occurring and that there are these slogans," he said, referring to chants directed against Xi Jinping and the CCP. "Images [of the demonstrations] testify to the bravery and despair of many people."

Meanwhile, the UN called on China to respect the right to peaceful protest.

UK condemns detention of BBC journalist 

The detention of a BBC journalist covering protests in China was "shocking and unacceptable," a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday.

He said the UK will "continue to raise our human rights concerns with the Chinese government at all levels as part of a frank and constructive relationship."

"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," the spokesman added.

Later, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), of which the BBC and RTS are members, condemned what they considered the "intimidation" of news crews in China.

Police detain protesters — report

Chinese police have detained three people at a site where demonstrations had been held over the weekend, the Agence France-Press (AFP) news agency reported.

A police officer told AFP that one of those detained "didn't obey our arrangements."

Police were also ordering people to delete photos form their phones, AFP said.

Anti-COVID protests in China

Beijing slams social media posts about Urumqi fire

Posts circulating on Chinese media platforms have claimed that COVID-19 lockdowns hampered rescue efforts after a blaze broke out in Urumqi, the capital of the northwestern Xinjiang region.

The fire killed at least 10 people in apartment building in the city, where some people have been locked in there homes for four months.

At a press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: "On social media there are forces with ulterior motives that relate this fire with the local response to Covid-19."

British minister condemns BBC journalist's arrest in China

British Business Secretary Grant Shapps criticized Chinese police, calling the arrest and beating of a BBC journalist "unacceptable" and "concerning."

"Whatever else happens, freedom of the press should be sacrosanct," Shapps said.

The BBC said that journalist Ed Lawrence had been "arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai" on Sunday. "He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police."

On Monday, a correspondent for Switzerland's national broadcaster RTS was approached by police while reported live from China.

"I will be taken away to the police station after this," RTS reporter Michael Peuker said live on camera.

The broadcaster reported that Peuker identified himself as a journalist, after which the police officers left.

Chinese stocks register losses amid protests

Hong Kong and Chinese shares have started the week with significant losses amid the protests against COVID-19 restrictions.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dropped by 1.57%.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.75% and the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.51%.

rm, sdi/kb (AFP, Reuters)