(TibetanReview.net, Apr02’20) – A doctor who expressed early concerns about the coronavirus to the media has disappeared, believed detained by Chinese authorities, as a US congressman called on the State Department to urge China to investigate the disappearance of three Chinese citizen journalists who sought to expose the impact of the coronavirus on the Chinese city of Wuhan. Also missing is a property tycoon and a communist party member who had called President Xi Jinping, without naming him, a “clown” over his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Ai Fen, the head of emergency at Wuhan Central Hospital, was given a warning after she disseminated information about the novel coronavirus to several other doctors. She recounted the reprimand in an essay titled, “The one who supplied the whistle,” which was published in China’s People (Renwu) magazine. The article has since been removed, reported nationalreview.com Apr 1.
She was reported to have brought several cases of coronavirus to the attention of her colleagues, eight of whom were later called in by police for revealing information about the respiratory illness. One of them, opthalmologist Li Wenliang, then warned fellow med school grads to wear protective clothing, an early warning that was condemned by authorities as “rumormongering.” Wenliang eventually died from the virus himself.
The report noted that Fen’s social media account on the Chinese platform Weibo had been updated several times since her disappearance, pointing out, however, that Chinese authorities had been known to update detainees’ social media accounts or to order them to do so themselves. So, on Apr 1, a post appeared on her account reading “Happy April Fools Day” with a picture of her in a lab coat and mask, the report said.
Fen’s whereabouts were still unknown despite the fact that about two weeks ago, a post appeared on her account reading, “Thank you for your care and love. I’m fine at the moment and I’m still working.”
Meanwhile, in a letter dated Mar 31, Republican Representative Jim Banks has asked the US government to seek a probe into the fates of Fang Bin, Chen Qiushi and Li Zehua, Chinese citizen journalists who sought to expose the impact of the coronavirus on the Chinese city of Wuhan, reported Reuters Apr 2.
The trio went missing after they took videos and published them online including images of overwhelmed hospitals and corpses piled in a minibus.
“All three of these men understood the personal risk associated with independently reporting on coronavirus in China, but they did it anyway,” Banks was quoted as having written, alleging that the Chinese government “imprisoned them – or worse.”
It was earlier reported by Reuters Mar 15 that Ren Zhiqiang, a member of China’s ruling Communist Party and a former top executive of the state-controlled property developer Huayuan Real Estate Group, had not been contactable since Mar 12, citing three of his friends.
The 69-year-old had written an essay targeting Xi’s Feb 23 speech, criticizing Beijing’s efforts to combat Covit-19 and sharing it with a few people. Copies were later widely circulated online.
In the essay Ren had cited a “crisis of governance” within China’s Communist Party and blamed restrictions on freedom of speech and the press for slowing down the response to combat the novel coronavirus, thereby worsening the outbreak.
Without mentioning Xi by name, Ren wrote that after analyzing the President’s speech he “saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes,’ but a clown stripped naked who insisted on continuing being emperor,” reported China Digital Times, a US-based website.