China protests – live: Beijing says BBC is ‘playing the victim’ after journalist’s arrest

Reacting to complaints of excessive use of force in the arrest of a BBC journalist covering the protests, the Chinese foreign ministry has now said the British broadcaster is “playing the victim”.

In a briefing to the press in Beijing today, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made these remarks, according to Reuters news agency.

He also asked journalists not to engage in activities “unrelated to their role”, implying the BBC journalist was taking part in the protests rather than covering them.

The comment comes after some social media videos showed BBC cameraperson Edward Lawrence being dragged away by the police.

The news organisation in a statement said Mr Lawrence was “beaten and kicked” while reporting from the site before he was released, without sufficient clarification.

China has increased police presence on the streets in several cities after the protests, as demonstrations in solidarity took place in cities around the world.

Chinese police are reportedly searching for foreign apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram in people’s phones. Many universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests.

Key Points

  • China says BBC is ‘playing the victim’ after journalist’s arrest

  • Chinese universities send students home to quash protests

  • Police searching people’s phones for Twitter, Instagram

  • UK tells Chinese government to take notice of lockdown protests

China says BBC is 'playing the victim' and asks journalists to avoid 'unrelated' activities

08:39 , Stuti Mishra

Reacting to complaints of excessive use of force in the arrest of a BBC journalist covering the protests, the Chinese foreign ministry has now said the British broadcaster is “playing the victim”.

In a briefing to the press in Beijing today, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian made these remarks, according to Reuters news agency.

He also asked journalists not to engage in activities “unrelated to their role”, implying the BBC journalist was taking part in the protests rather than covering them.

The comment comes after some social media videos showed BBC cameraperson Edward Lawrence being dragged away by the police.

The news organisation in a statement said Mr Lawrence was “beaten and kicked” while reporting from the site before he was released, without sufficient clarification.

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

07:47 , Stuti Mishra

Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero-Covid” restrictions called for president Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades.

With police out in force, there was no word of protests today in Beijing, Shanghai or other major cities.

Some anti-virus restrictions were eased yesterday in a possible effort to defuse public anger following the weekend protests in at least eight cities. But the ruling party affirmed its “zero-Covid” strategy, which has confined millions of people to their homes in an attempt to isolate every infection.

Read more:

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

Hong Kong students 'applaud the bravery" of Chinese protesters

07:15 , Stuti Mishra

Students in Hong Kong held an event to show solidarity with protesters in China gathering in defiance of the Chinese Communist Party’s strict Covid-19 regulations and the deaths of ten people in Urumqi.

The event was held at the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

According to a statement from The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, despite the fact that the protest was peaceful, the police were called and, on arrival, recorded the details of two students who had been putting up posters commemorating victims of the fire in Xinjiang.

CHFK says it expresses its support of the peaceful protesters in Hong Kong and share the outrage towards the Chinese government’s oppression of its citizens and members of independent media.

“Hong Kong and its universities have a proud history of peaceful protest and dissent. Despite the degradation of freedoms in the city under the watch of Beijing, it is inspiring to see that young people, including students from the mainland, retain that sense of courage and duty today in the face of increasingly oppressive government policy and practices,” Mark Clifford, President of the CFHK Foundation, said.

“The Foundation and I applaud the bravery of these students and call again on Hong Kong’s universities to reject the authoritarianism advanced by Beijing and to restate their commitment to personal and academic freedoms.”

Why China protests spread and how the regime in Beijing might respond

06:45 , Stuti Mishra

Police were out in force across China on Monday following scenes of mass public defiance not seen since Tiananmen Square more than three decades ago, writes Kim Sengupta.

Authorities in Shanghai erected barricades on a street where demonstrators had gathered, as protests over the draconian “zero Covid” policy sweep the country.’

The discontent is no longer just about the Covid restrictions – which are seemingly ineffective as well as repressive, with cases reaching 40,052, a fifth consecutive daily record – but is now an open challenge to the regime of Xi Jinping.

Read more:

Why China protests spread and how the regime in Beijing might respond

Chinese police searching people’s phones for Twitter, Instagram amid Covid protests, reports say

06:14 , Stuti Mishra

Chinese police are reportedly searching for foreign apps such as Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram in people’s phones amid ongoing unprecedented protests across the country against the nation’s draconian “zero-Covid” lockdown policy, writes Vishwam Sankaran.

Unable to post protest content on the Chinese internet due to widespread censorship, users are turning to platforms like Twitter to share news of local public defiance, with dozens of such videos circulating outside the country, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

But authorities in Beijing, and in other cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou, are randomly stopping people passing by and writing down their personal information if they find apps like Twitter or Telegram on their phones, several reports suggest.

Read more:

Chinese police searching people’s phones for foreign apps amid protests, reports say

UK tells Chinese government to take notice of lockdown protests

06:10 , Stuti Mishra

The Chinese government should “take notice” of protests against its strict zero-Covid policy and restrictions on freedoms, British foreign secretary James Cleverly said yesterday evening.

“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,” Cleverly told reporters.

Protests in China and among Chinese citizens abroad were triggered by a fire in the Xinjiang region last week that killed 10 people who were trapped in their apartments. Protesters said lockdown measures were partly to blame, though officials denied that.

From the streets of several Chinese cities to dozens of university campuses, the protesters made a show of civil disobedience unprecedented since leader Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.

“It’s clear that the Chinese people themselves are deeply unhappy with what is going on, about the restrictions imposed upon them by the Chinese government,” Cleverly said.

“These are the voices of Chinese people talking to their government and I think it’s right that the Chinese government listens to what those people are saying.”

China records drop in new daily Covid cases

05:15 , Stuti Mishra

China reported a decline in new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, as the country is rocked by massive anti lockdown protests.

According to China’s National Health Commission, it saw 38,645 cases in the last 24 hours, of which 3,624 were symptomatic and 35,021 asymptomatic.

On Monday, China posted a record daily high of 40,347 cases, with 3,822 symptomatic and 36,525 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately.

There were no deaths for two days in a row, keeping fatalities at 5,233.As of yesterday, mainland China had confirmed a total of 315,248 Covid cases with symptoms.

China ramps up police presence to curb protests

05:02 , Stuti Mishra

Chinese police were out in force in Beijing and Shanghai this morning to prevent more protests against Covid curbs which have disrupted the lives of millions, damaged the economy and briefly sparked rare calls for president Xi Jinping to step down.

At least one person in the city of Hangzhou was arrested late yesterday night, according to social media videos, after reports a busload of demonstrators were taken away by police during Sunday night protests in Shanghai.

Simmering discontent with Covid prevention policies three years into the pandemic ignited into broader protests in cities thousands of miles apart throughout the weekend.

Mainland China’s biggest wave of civil disobedience since Mr Xi took power a decade ago comes as the number of Covid cases hit record highs daily and large parts of several cities face a new round of lockdowns.

EU leader urged to challenge Xi over China protests on visit

04:24 , Stuti Mishra

President of the European Council Charles Michel, who is set to visit China amid a wave of major protests there against “zero-Covid” policies, is being urged to raise the issue with Xi Jinping or to cancel his visit.

The European Council chief was set to hold talks with Mr Xi during his visit starting 1 December. The trip is seen as strategically important for increasing ties between Europe and China.

However, officials, politicians and EU diplomats have raised concerns about the timing of the visit and have asked Mr Michel to either raise the issue of the crackdown against protesters or cancel his trip.

“He should use the occasion to raise our concerns regarding several issues,” Reinhard Bütikofer, chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with China, told Politico.

“If there is a crackdown of the recent protest movement, the EU is willing to raise that in international institutions and to consider new sanctions.”

Another unnamed EU diplomat told the outlet: “He’s probably having second thoughts.”

“Being the first Western leader going among these protests, he will be forced to say something, so what is he going to say? If they could turn down the clock, they would probably cancel.”

03:53 , Stuti Mishra

Welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the anti-lockdown protests in China. Stay tuned for the latest!