Britain on Tuesday summoned the Chinese ambassador in London for a rebuke after the arrest and alleged assault of a BBC journalist covering Covid protests, government sources said, reports AFP.
Zheng Zeguang was called into the foreign office after the incident involving Ed Lawrence in Shanghai, which Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Monday called “deeply disturbing”.
Lawrence was hauled away by police late Sunday while filming a protest against Covid restrictions, one of many that have rocked China in recent days.
The BBC said he was assaulted by the Shanghai police before being released several hours later.
The government in London also this month expressed concern after reports emerged of Beijing operating undeclared police outposts in foreign countries including Britain.
And a senior Chinese diplomat was summoned to the foreign office last month after his consulate colleagues in Manchester, northwest England, were accused of beating up a Hong Kong pro-democracy protester.
The incidents have fuelled political pressure in Britain on the new government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to get tough with China.
But Sunak is treading a fine line between defending freedoms and antagonising the world’s second-biggest economy.
In a speech Monday evening, he said the so-called “golden era” of UK-China relations trumpeted by former prime minister David Cameron was “over”.
But Sunak also called for “robust pragmatism” in dealing with Britain’s competitors, disappointing critics who want him to go further in confronting Beijing.
Separately on Tuesday, the UK ousted Chinese nuclear firm CGN from the construction of its new Sizewell C nuclear power station, which will now be built only with French commercial partner EDF.