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BBC says official explanation for journalist arrest in China is that he was detained to prevent catching COVID – News Opener

“We have had no 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. We do not consider this a credible explanation.”

That’s the BBC, reacting to the news of the arrest of Ed Lawrence, who was covering protests over China’s strict zero-COVID policy in Shanghai. The BBC said he was beaten and kicked by the police while in custody.

There is video of Lawrence’s arrest.

A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said the BBC reporter failed to identify himself and “didn’t voluntarily present” his press credential.

“Foreign journalists need to consciously follow Chinese laws and regulations,” Zhao said.

Protests have engulfed China after a fire in an Urumqi, Xinjiang apartment complex killed 10. Chinese authorities have been criticized over incident, as iron-barred windows and roadblocks were considered to have impeded efforts to contain the fire. An official statement that residents were slow to react added to the outrage.

Hong Kong stocks

and oil

slumped on Monday, on the view that China is unlikely to relax its strict policies.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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