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They Documented the Coronavirus Crisis in Wuhan. Then They Vanished.

hellraiser2.hellraiser2. PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
edited April 15 in Local and Foreign Issues

They Documented the Coronavirus Crisis in Wuhan. Then They Vanished.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/business/wuhan-coronavirus-journalists.html?smid=fb-share&fbclid=IwAR1IdlgSnrEZXfRz-DUtslbNuAGMT6y0OHSyYrhkYk7IuIuQhDuMHnMTsQ4


Two video bloggers whose dispatches from the heart of the outbreak showed fear, grief and dissatisfaction with the government have gone silent

Chen Qiushi a self-declared citizen journalist in Wuhan China on Feb 4 His friends lost contact with him two days later

Chen Qiushi, a self-declared citizen journalist, in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 4. His friends lost contact with him two days later.Credit...Chen Qiushi, via Associated Press


HONG KONG — The beige van squatted outside of a Wuhan hospital, its side and back doors ajar. Fang Bin, a local clothing salesman, peered inside as he walked past. He groaned: “So many dead.” He counted five, six, seven, eight body bags. “This is too many.”

That moment, in a 40-minute video about the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated China, propelled Mr. Fang to internet fame. Then, less than two weeks later, he disappeared.

Days earlier, another prominent video blogger in Wuhan, Chen Qiushi, had also gone missing. Mr. Chen’s friends and family said they believed he had been forcibly quarantined.

Before their disappearances, Mr. Fang and Mr. Chen had recorded dozens of videos from Wuhan, streaming unfiltered and often heartbreaking images from the center of the outbreak. Long lines outside hospitals. Feeble patients. Agonized relatives.

The footage would have been striking anywhere. But it was especially so coming from inside China, where even mild criticism of the authorities is quickly scrubbed from the online record, and those responsible for it often punished.

The appetite for the videos reflects, in part, the shortage of independent news sources in China, where professional newspapers are tightly controlled by the authorities. Earlier this month, the state propaganda department deployed hundreds of journalists to reshape the narrative of t

But the videos also reflected the growing call for free speech in China in recent weeks, as the coronavirus crisis has prompted criticism and introspection from unexpected corners across the country.

Several professional news organizations have produced incisive reports on the outbreak. A revolt against government censorship broke out on Chinese social media last week after the death of Li Wenliang, the Wuhan doctor who had tried to warn of the virus before officials had acknowledged an outbreak.

Mr. Fang’s and Mr. Chen’s videos were another manifestation of the dissatisfaction that the government’s handling of the outbreak has unleashed among ordinary Chinese citizens.   

“When suddenly there’s a crisis, they want to have access to a wider array of content and reporting,” said Sarah Cook, who studies Chinese media at Freedom House, a pro-democracy research group based in the United States.

The disappearance of the two men also underscores that the ruling Communist Party has no intention of loosening its grip on free speech.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, said last month that officials needed to “strengthen the guidance of public opinion.” While Chinese social media has overflowed with fear and grief, state propaganda outlets have emphasized Mr. Xi’s steady hand, framed the fight against the outbreak as a form of patriotism and shared upbeat videos of medical workers dancing.

More than 350 people across China have been punished for “spreading rumors” about the outbreak, according to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, an advocacy group.

Mr. Chen, a fast-talking, fresh-faced lawyer from eastern China, was already well-known online before the outbreak. He traveled to Hong Kong during the pro-democracy protests last year and disputed the Chinese authorities’ depiction of the demonstrators as a riotous mob.

The Beijing authorities summoned him back to the mainland and deleted his social media accounts, Mr. Chen told his followers later.

But when the coronavirus led officials to seal off Wuhan last month, he raced to the city of 11 million, citing his duty as a self-declared citizen journalist. “What sort of a journalist are you if you don’t dare rush to the front line?” he said.

In his videos, which drew millions of views on YouTube, Mr. Chen interviewed locals who had lost loved ones, filmed a woman breaking down as she waited for care and visited an exhibition center that had been converted into a quarantine center.

He was blocked from WeChat, a major Chinese social media app, for spreading rumors. But he was adamant that he shared only what he himself had seen or heard.

As time went on, Mr. Chen, usually energetic, began to show strain. “I am scared,” he said on Jan. 30. “In front of me is the virus. Behind me is China’s legal and administrative power.”

The authorities had contacted his parents to ask for his whereabouts, he said. He teared up suddenly. Then, his finger pointing at the camera, he blurted: “I’m not even scared of death. You think I’m scared of you, Communist Party?”

On Feb. 6, Mr. Chen’s friends lost contact with him. Xu Xiaodong, a prominent mixed martial arts practitioner and a friend of Mr. Chen, posted a video on Feb. 7 saying that Mr. Chen’s parents had been told that their son had been quarantined, though he had not shown symptoms of illness.

Unlike Mr. Chen, Mr. Fang, the clothing salesman, was fairly anonymous before the coronavirus outbreak. Much of his YouTube activity had involved producing enthusiastic videos about traditional Chinese clothing.

But as the outbreak escalated, he began sharing videos of Wuhan’s empty streets and crowded hospitals. They lacked the slickness of Mr. Chen’s dispatches, which were often subtitled and tightly edited. But, as with Mr. Chen’s videos, they showed a man growing increasingly desperate — and defiant.

On Feb. 2, Mr. Fang described how officials had confiscated his laptop and interrogated him about his footage of the body bags. On Feb. 4, he filmed a group of people outside his home, who said they were there to ask him questions. He turned them away, daring them to break down his door.

In his final videos, Mr. Fang turned explicitly political in a way rarely heard inside China, at least in public. Filming from inside his home — he said he was surrounded by plainclothes policemen — he railed against “greed for power” and “tyranny.”

His last video, on Feb. 9, was just 12 seconds long. It featured a scroll of paper with the words, “All citizens resist, hand power back to the people.”

Despite the worldwide audience for Mr. Fang’s and Mr. Chen’s videos, it is hard to know how much reach they had domestically, said Fang Kecheng, an assistant professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Both men relied heavily on YouTube and Twitter, which are blocked in China.

But unlike the ***** of grief and anger online in response to the death of Dr. Li, news of Mr. Chen’s and Mr. Fang’s disappearances has been swiftly stamped out on Chinese social media. Their names returned almost no results on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, on Friday.

Still, Ms. Cook said the power of Mr. Chen’s and Mr. Fang’s videos, as well as the reporting done by professional journalists in Wuhan, should not be underestimated.

She pointed to the Chinese authorities’ decision this week to loosen diagnostic requirements for coronavirus cases, leading to a significant jump in reported infections, as evidence of their impact.

That decision might not have come “if you didn’t have all these people in Wuhan sending out reports that what you’re hearing is an underestimate,” Ms. Cook said. “These very courageous individuals can, in unusual circumstances, push back and force the state’s hand.”

Mr. Fang, in one of his last videos, seemed struck by a similar sentiment. He thanked his viewers, who he said had been calling him nonstop to send support.

“A person, just an ordinary person, a silly person,” he said of himself, “who lifted the lid for a second.”


Comments

  • ArnoldZArnoldZ PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    edited April 16
    "Sars, Mers, now Covid 19 all from china in the last 20 years. That is a lot and one has to wonder if they are not screwing around with viruses in an unsafe manner. Ebola is different because it has been popping up on and off for a long time in Africa but the others might be lab creations. I never believe in crazy theories but this is getting just too strange that one country keeps causing all of these problems."
    The ICC must prosecute leaders of Communist China!
  • hsusonhsuson PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    edited April 18

    CHINA VIRUS....
  • crazy legscrazy legs PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    edited April 18
    MERS came from the Arabian peninsula.  The ME in MERS means middle east.

    But yeah why so many virus come from China?  Stop eating bats.  They have lots of viruses.

    This corona they said are not man-made but was "accidentally" released from a lab in Wuhan.  Then the infected lab tech infected another who then went to the Huanan Seafood Market.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/wuhans-huanan-seafood-market-may-not-be-ground-zero-of-the-covid19-pandemic/
  • hellraiser2.hellraiser2. PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐

    China deliberately destroyed evidence about start of coronavirus, report says

    Leaked document reportedly states that human-to-human transmission was not confirmed by Beijing until 20 January despite evidence of it in December

    A research assessment reported to have been compiled by the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance of western states has stated that the Chinese government deliberately hid or destroyed evidence about the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

    The document charts how Beijing denied at first that the disease could be transmitted between humans; silenced or ‘disappeared’ medics who tried to warn of the outbreak; blocked access by international organisations to Wuhan, where it originated; and refused to provide live samples to international scientists trying to find a vaccine.

    The Five Eyes intelligence network – comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – has been sharing information on Covid-19, but there is no specific joint operation on the issue. US intelligence agencies are carrying out an investigation at the order of Donald Trump, who has demanded that China pays compensation for its alleged negligence in allowing the pandemic to spread around the world.

    The document, obtained by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Australia, reportedly charts a timeline of subterfuge by China and how it censored news about the outbreak. It says that despite evidence in early December of human-to-human transmission, Beijing did not confirm this key fact until 20 January.

    However, there is little in the document that is not already in the public domain and there is nothing to conclusively support Mr Trump’s claim that the disease originated in a scientific laboratory. It confirms that the Australian government believes that a wet market in Wuhan was the likely origin of the virus.

    British security officials have said they are yet to see proof that Covid-19 resulted from scientific experiments.

    Media reports in the US have claimed that the Trump administration has been pushing Washington’s intelligence agencies to say that the virus originated in a laboratory. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington issued an unusual public announcement on Thursday that it was carrying out an investigation into China’s role in the pandemic.

    The Daily Telegraph report confirmed that key figures at the Wuhan Institute of Virology previously worked or trained in Australian government laboratories where they conducted research on pathogens in live bats as part of an ongoing partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. According to the document, the team’s work at the Wuhan laboratory involved discovering samples of coronavirus within a cave in Yunnan province and synthesising a bat-derived coronavirus that could not be cured.

  • Alpha_Greenv_2Alpha_Greenv_2 PEx Rookie ⭐
    edited May 6
    CHINA could literally wind up these video bloggers and truthers and do to them what the Nazis did to the Jews and still the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA. 

    CHINA could NUKE HongKong and Taiwan right in front of our very eyes and still the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA. 

    CHINA's President can sexually abuse your sister in front of you and video record it and still, the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA.

    CHINA can do whatever it wants to do and won't be held responsible for it. Blame Democrats in the United States and all their allies in the world. 

    TRUMP is the WORST president in the history of the UNIVERSE (yes I said universe not planet earth) and these media outlets have to stick with that mantra, regardless of what CHINA does. 

    I bet if Trump wasn't the president of the US, China would be held accountable as early as January.
  • Herr_StarrHerr_Starr PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    CHINA could literally wind up these video bloggers and truthers and do to them what the Nazis did to the Jews and still the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA. 

    CHINA could NUKE HongKong and Taiwan right in front of our very eyes and still the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA. 

    CHINA's President can sexually abuse your sister in front of you and video record it and still, the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA.

    CHINA can do whatever it wants to do and won't be held responsible for it. Blame Democrats in the United States and all their allies in the world. 

    TRUMP is the WORST president in the history of the UNIVERSE (yes I said universe not planet earth) and these media outlets have to stick with that mantra, regardless of what CHINA does. 

    I bet if Trump wasn't the president of the US, China would be held accountable as early as January.
    That's quite the word salad you have going on. 

    Don't worry, there's enough blame to go around. Trump is getting his fair share, and so is China. 
  • Herr_StarrHerr_Starr PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    CHINA could literally wind up these video bloggers and truthers and do to them what the Nazis did to the Jews and still the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA. 

    CHINA could NUKE HongKong and Taiwan right in front of our very eyes and still the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA. 

    CHINA's President can sexually abuse your sister in front of you and video record it and still, the WHO and majority of media outlets in the United States (except FOX news) would turn a blind eye on this. They have to blame TRUMP, not CHINA.

    CHINA can do whatever it wants to do and won't be held responsible for it. Blame Democrats in the United States and all their allies in the world. 

    TRUMP is the WORST president in the history of the UNIVERSE (yes I said universe not planet earth) and these media outlets have to stick with that mantra, regardless of what CHINA does. 

    I bet if Trump wasn't the president of the US, China would be held accountable as early as January.
    That's quite the word salad you have going on. 

    Don't worry, there's enough blame to go around. Trump is getting his fair share, and so is China. 

    ... and don't forget your manyakis candidate Osama Biden!   :rofl:  
    What is Biden responsible for now? Does he run the CDC? The State Department? 

    Don't forget to take that remedial civics class, take a 9th grade level one.  ;)
  • Herr_StarrHerr_Starr PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    What is Biden responsible for now? Does he run the CDC? The State Department? 



    Manyakis Grandpa Joe "Diick Steel" Biden runs the Pervert Department of the United States government!   :rofl:    :rofl:    
    Ah, Trump fans, they don't take things seriously, so why should they be taken seriously? :lol:
  • Herr_StarrHerr_Starr PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    What is Biden responsible for now? Does he run the CDC? The State Department? 



    Manyakis Grandpa Joe "Diick Steel" Biden runs the Pervert Department of the United States government!   :rofl:    :rofl:    
    Ah, Trump fans, they don't take things seriously, so why should they be taken seriously? :lol:
        

    Sleepy Joe Biden Democrap fanatics like HerrStarr are also becoming demented and perverts!    :rofl:  




    Trump fans would rather talk about people, instead of talking about events and ideas...I have no expectation of these high school dropouts. :loser: 
  • Herr_StarrHerr_Starr PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Trump fans would rather talk about people, instead of talking about events and ideas...I have no expectation of these high school dropouts. :loser: 

    Basta ang trabaho mo ay magpatawa!  Araw araw magpatawa ka ha! Nandyan na ang tatay mong si demented Joe Biden to give us the appetizer!   :rofl:   
    'Nuff said. :loser:  
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