At least 5 people in China have disappeared, gotten arrested, or been silenced after speaking out about the coronavirus - here's what we know about them
- Whistleblowers and citizen journalists in China are speaking out against the Chinese Communist Party and President Xi Jinping's handling of the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan.
- Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang contracted the coronavirus after being silenced by local police. He died on February 7.
- Other citizen journalists and critics in China have been censored or arrested after sharing information about the outbreak. Some have disappeared or are under surveillance.
- More 75,000 people have gotten the coronavirus since December. (For the latest case total and death toll, see Business Insider's live updates here.)
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun recently posted a scathing review of the way president Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party have handled the coronavirus outbreak.
"They all blithely stood by as the crucial window of opportunity to deal with the outbreak of the infection snapped shut in their faces," he wrote, suggesting that government censorship of information about the coronavirus hampered China's ability to control its spread.
Xu, who teaches at Beijing's Tsinghua University, added: "The cause of all of this lies with The Axlerod [that is, Xi Jinping] and the cabal that surrounds him."
His critique came three days after Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang died of the coronavirus. Li had sent a message to a group of medical school alumni, warning them about a mysterious new illness. But local police reprimanded and silenced him.
In addition to Li and Xu, at least three citizen journalists have disappeared or were arrested after sharing information about the outbreak on social media.
A friend of Xu told The Guardian that the professor was placed under house arrest after he returned to Beijing following the Lunar New Year celebration.
Xu's access to the internet has been cut off, and his social media account on China's WeChat messaging platform was shut down.
Xu's essay ended with an ominous acknowledgement: "I can now all too easily predict that I will be subjected to new punishments; indeed, this may well even be the last piece I write."
Another activist, Xu Zhiyong, published an article on social media this month urging Xi Jinping to step down.
Doctor Li Wenliang was censored for warnings he shared on social media.
"When I saw them circulating online, I realized that it was out of my control and I would probably be punished," Li told CNN.
After his release, Li unknowingly treated a woman infected with the coronavirus. Two days later, he checked himself into the hospital after showing symptoms. He died less than a month later.
Following Li's death, Chinese lawyer and citizen journalist Chen Qiushi went missing.
On January 30, Chen uploaded a video to his YouTube channel in which he said police had called him wanting to know where he was and had questioned his parents, according to the Associated Press.
Chen's mother uploaded a video onto Chen's Twitter account after his disappearance, begging for help to find her son.
This wasn't the first time Chen has been silenced by Chinese officials.
Blogger Fang Bin also got a call from the police in Wuhan. Authorities confiscated his laptop from his home on February 1 and brought him in for questioning. Fang filmed the encounter.
A video Fang posted on February 1 showed a hospital in Wuhan where eight body bags were being loaded onto the back of a truck. The footage also showed an overwhelmed medical clinic. It went viral.
Fang was arrested on February 10.
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