China: Defiant woman stands up to police during protest

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Video footage emerged as China’s ambassador to the UK was summoned to the Foreign Office amid a diplomatic row over the arrest and alleged beating of a BBC journalist as he covered Covid protests in Shanghai.

The broadcaster confirmed that cameraman Edward Lawrence had been “handcuffed” while filming demonstrations and was then “beaten and kicked” by police.

Downing Street described the arrest as “shocking and unacceptable” as well as “deeply disturbing”.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called China’s top diplomat in London, Zheng Zeguang, to Whitehall to explain the arrest.

Videos on social media yesterday showed tanks and other military vehicles – after Beijing ramped up its crackdown on demonstrators who have been protesting against President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy.

It has seen millions enduring draconian lockdowns on and off for the last three years.

Video showed a steady stream of tanks trundling through the eastern city of Xuzhou, reminding the population of the horrific massacre in Tiananmen Square which cost hundreds – and possibly even thousands – of civilian lives.

During that uprising, a sole Chinese protestor famously stood defiantly in front of a block of tanks heading east on Beijing’s Chang’an Blvd in Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. His fate was never determined.

Number 10 has told Beijing that “freedom to protest must be respected”.

On Monday night Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the so-called “golden era” of relations with China is over, as he vowed to “evolve” the UK’s stance towards the country amid what he said was the creeping authoritarianism of the Xi regime.

The recent angry demonstrations erupted after a fire in a high-rise block in Urumqi, western China, killed 10 people last Thursday.

It is widely believed residents could not escape the blaze because of Covid restrictions, but local authorities have disputed this.

As a result, thousands took to the streets for days, demanding an end to Covid lockdowns – with some even making rare calls for President Xi to stand down.

As well as the physical crackdown by police, authorities in China have also been censoring social media.

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