STORY: Voices can be heard chanting in Mandarin: "Release, release, release."
The BBC said it had not been given a credible explanation for Lawrence's detention.
"The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai," a spokesperson for the British public service broadcaster said in a statement.
"He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist," the spokesperson added.
Shanghai is one of a number of Chinese cities that has seen protests over stringent COVID restrictions, which flared in recent days following a deadly fire in the country's far west.
"We have had no official 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," the BBC said.
China's embassy in London has been approached for comment.