NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2022 — The Overseas Press Club of America on Tuesday condemned the violent treatment of several Western journalists covering anti-lockdown protests in Shanghai. The group has long supported the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China and others protesting the expulsion of foreign journalists and harassment campaigns that have led at least one family, that of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent John Sudworth, to flee the country.
Regarding the latest incident, the FCCC said “journalists from multiple outlets were physically harassed by police” while covering the unrest, and at least two journalists were detained. In one incident, the BBC’s Ed Lawrence was wrestled to the ground by multiple officers before being led away. It was not clear which other journalists were harassed or arrested.
In a statement, the BBC said Lawrence was “beaten and kicked by the police” during his arrest and was held for several hours before being released. Video posted online clearly shows at least five Chinese policemen wrestling Lawrence to the ground. The FCCC said it was “extremely disturbed” by the incident.
The BBC said “no official explanation or apology” for the incident was given by 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.” That was hardly credible, the BBC said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said police confronted Lawrence because he did not voluntarily offer to show his press credentials.
Under Chinese law, credentialed foreign journalists are allowed access to report in China.
The OPC joins the FCCC and other organizations in condemning any violence against journalists or actions that impede their ability to cover events. We join others in urging the Chinese authorities to protect the rights of foreign journalists to safely do their jobs.
The OPC is the oldest journalistic group in the United States devoted to international coverage, having been founded in 1939. For further details, visit www.opcofamerica.org.
Contact: Patricia Kranz, OPC Executive Director