Death Of Doctor Li Wenliang Who Warned Of Coronavirus Causes Uproar In Chinese Social Media, Promptly Shut Down By Censors; China To Investigate ‘Issues’

AP: Doctor’s death unleashes mourning, fury at Chinese officials
“The death of a young doctor who was reprimanded for warning about China’s new virus triggered an outpouring Friday of praise for him and fury that communist authorities put politics above public safety. In death, Dr. Li Wenliang became the face of simmering anger at the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information and complaints that officials lie about or hide disease outbreaks, chemical spills, dangerous consumer products, or financial frauds…” (McDonald, 2/7).

New York Times: A Rare Online Revolt Emerges in China Over Death of Coronavirus Whistle-Blower
“…The Chinese public have staged what amounts to an online revolt after the death of a doctor, Li Wenliang, who tried to warn of a mysterious virus that has since killed hundreds of people in China, infected tens of thousands, and forced the government to corral many of the country’s 1.4 billion people. Since late Thursday, people from different backgrounds, including government officials, prominent business figures and ordinary online users, have posted numerous messages expressing their grief at the doctor’s death and their anger over his silencing by the police after sharing his knowledge about the new coronavirus. It has prompted a nationwide soul-searching under an authoritarian government that allows for little dissent…” (Yuan, 2/7).

NPR: China To Investigate After Whistleblower Doctor Dies From Coronavirus
“…After the announcement of his death Friday, China’s National Supervisory Commission, the country’s top anti-corruption body, said it would send a team to Wuhan to ‘thoroughly investigate issues related to Dr. Li Wenliang,’ according to the official Xinhua news agency. The report did not specify what exactly would be investigated, but it comes within a broader context of growing criticism of Beijing for its handling of the crisis. China was initially praised for being quicker to seek international help than it did during the SARS outbreak; however, in recent days it has become more clear that in the initial phase of the epidemic, authorities may have been less than transparent…” (Neuman et al., 2/7).

Washington Post: Doctor’s death from coronavirus sparks a digital uprising, rattling China’s leaders
“…Within hours of Li Wenliang’s death, millions of Chinese, homebound in the coronavirus crisis, tried to bypass censors to post the hashtag ‘We demand freedom of speech’ in a remarkable but short-lived digital uprising. The users were memorializing Li, who is considered the first to sound the alarm about the deadly new virus when he leaked a Dec. 30 document from his hospital confirming a diagnosis. On Jan. 1, he was detained and silenced by Wuhan police, who accused him of spreading lies. As the torrent of outrage built up overnight, the government in Beijing turned to a familiar tool — censorship — as it sought to prevent the already-staggering public health crisis from taking a volatile turn…” (Shih, 2/7).

Additional coverage of the doctor’s death and reaction is available from CNN, MedPage Today, New York Times, Reuters (2), Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

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