UK summons Chinese ambassador after BBC journalist arrested | News of the protests

The British Foreign Office reprimands Zheng Zeguang after the arrest and alleged assault of Ed Lawrence in Shanghai.

The UK summoned the Chinese ambassador to London over a rebuke after the arrest and alleged assault of a BBC journalist covering protests against Beijing’s zero COVID-19 policy.

Zheng Zeguang was summoned to the Foreign Office on Tuesday after the incident involving Ed Lawrence in Shanghai, which Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called “deeply disturbing”.

“It is extremely important that we protect media freedom,” Cleverly told reporters at a NATO meeting in Romania, confirming that Zheng had been summoned.

“It is extremely important that journalists can go about their business without being disturbed and without fear of being attacked,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Lawrence was taken away by police on Sunday evening during filming a protest against COVID restrictionsone of many that have rocked China in recent days.

The BBC said he was assaulted by police before being released hours later.

China has hit back at British criticism over the journalist’s treatment and Downing Street’s insistence that police show respect to COVID protesters.

“The British side is not in a position to pass judgment on China’s COVID policy or other internal affairs,” an embassy spokesperson said ahead of Zheng’s summons, noting the rate of high pandemic mortality in Britain.

The government in London also expressed concern this month over reports that Beijing operated undeclared police outposts in foreign countries, including Britain.

A senior Chinese diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office last month after his consulate colleagues in Manchester, northwest England, were accused of beating a pro-democracy protester from Hong Kong.

The incidents fueled political pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new government to secure hard on china.

But Sunak is on the fine line between defending freedoms and opposing the world’s second largest economy.

In a speech on Monday, he described the “golden age” of UK-China relations declared by former Prime Minister David Cameron as “over”.

But Sunak also called for “Robust pragmatism” against British competitors, disappointing critics who want it to go further against Beijing.

Business changes

Separately on Tuesday, the UK withdrew Chinese nuclear company CGN from building its new Sizewell C nuclear power station, which will now be built solely with French trading partner EDF.

The move came after UK government departments were ordered last week to stop installing Chinese-made surveillance cameras at “sensitive sites”.

The week before, a Chinese company had been ordered to sell most of its majority stake in Britain’s biggest semiconductor maker, Newport Wafer Fab.

A spokesperson for Sunak declined to say whether national security factors drove the CGN decision.

But he told reporters: ‘We certainly think it’s right for the UK to have more energy security, energy independence.

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