1. Individuals Detained for Sharing Information Online About the COVID-19 Outbreak
Throughout January 2020 China's government continued to punish people for sharing information online about COVID-19. Here are some examples:
On January 23, Wang Doe (female, 35 years old, from Shapingba District) spread rumors in a friends circle that "Chongqing Shapingba, Jiangbei District, and Yubei District has imposed controls." On the same day, Liu Doe (male, 26 years old, from Tongliang District) spread a rumor that "Panxi and Shimahe areas in Jiangbei have been closed off by the police" in a WeChat group. An investigation found that Wang Doe and Liu Doe fabricated and spread rumors based on hearsay in order to attract people's attention, and created panic. They were subjected to administrative detention by the Nan'an and Jiangbei police, respectively. On January 24, Wang Doe #3 (female, 27 years old, from Shapingba District) saw information related to government departments' prevention and handling of the epidemic on the Internet, and fabricated and spread rumors out of context to attract people's attention, causing a pernicious influence. She was subjected to administrative detention by the Yongchuan police.
The police reiterated that the Internet is not a place outside the law, and public security agencies will investigate and deal with illegal activities involving fabricating and spreading rumors and disrupting public order. It is hoped that the majority of Internet users will not believe or spread rumors, jointly maintain a good online environment, and unite and fight the epidemic together.
2. Doctor Li Wenliang [李文亮]
|Source: Baidu search result on the day Dr. Li Wenliang died.|
On December 31, 2019, the Hubei government posted the following announcement on its website (http://www.hubei.gov.cn/zxjy/rdhy/201912/t20191231_1822539.shtml):
Municipal Health Commission Notice on the Pneumonia Outbreak: Initially
Identified as Viral Pneumonia, No Human-to-Human Transmission
Release time: 2019-12-31 14:09 Source: Wuhan Municipal Health Commission
some medical institutions found that many cases of pneumonia were
connected to the South China Seafood Market. After receiving reports,
the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission immediately carried out case
searches and retrospective investigations related to South China Seafood
Market in the city’s medical and health institutions. Twenty-seven
cases have been found, of which 7 are in serious condition, and the
remaining cases are in stable and controllable condition, and 2 cases
are expected to be discharged in the near future. The clinical
manifestations of the cases were mainly fever, a few patients had
difficulty breathing, and chest radiographs showed infiltrating foci of
both lungs. At present, all cases have been treated in isolation,
follow-up investigation and medical observation of close contacts are
underway, and hygienic investigation and environmental sanitation
treatment of the South China Seafood Market is underway.
Wuhan City organized consultations with clinical medicine, epidemiology, and virology experts from Tongji Hospital, the Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Wuhan Institute of Virology,the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Wuhan Infectious Disease Hospital, and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, no obvious person-to-person transmission has been found in the investigation, and no medical staff infection has been found. At present, the detection of the pathogen and the investigation of the cause of infection are underway.
Viral pneumonia is more common in winter and spring, and the spread can be sporadic or explosive. The main clinical manifestations are fever, body aches, a small number of breathing difficulties, and lung infiltration. Viral pneumonia is related to the virulence of the virus, the route of infection, and the age and immune status of the host. Viruses that cause viral pneumonia are influenza viruses. The others are parainfluenza viruses, cytomegaloviruses, adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses. The diagnosis depends on pathogenic tests, including virus isolation, serological tests, and virus antigen and nucleic acid tests. The disease is preventable and controllable, for prevention maintain indoor air circulation, avoid closed public places and crowded places with poor air circulation, and wear masks when going out. Clinically, symptomatic treatment is the main treatment, and bed rest is required. If you have the above symptoms, especially if the fever persists, you should go to a medical institution in a timely manner. (Wuhan Municipal Health Commission)http://wjw.hubei.gov.cn/fbjd/dtyw/201912/t20191231_1822343.shtml, was no longer available as of December 8, 2020. That version was identical to the one shown above, with the following exceptions:
- It was posted at 13:38 on December 31, 2019.
- The title was "Wuhan Municipal Health Commission Notice Regarding the Status of Our City's Ongoing Pneumonia Outbreak." [武汉市卫健委关于当前我市肺炎疫情的情况通报]
- The reference to the "Wuhan Municipal Health Commission" in the second sentence was the "Municipal Health Commission."
|Source: CCTV News [ 央视新闻] official Weibo, December 31, 2019, https://m.weibo.cn/status/4455560046857254|
At 5:38 pm on January 1, 2020, the Wuhan Public Security Bureau published the following on its official Sina Weibo:
rumor spreaders were investigated and dealt with in accordance with the
law] Recently, some medical institutions in our city found that they
had received multiple cases of pneumonia, and the Municipal Health
Commission issued a report on this. However, some Internet users
published and forwarded false information on the Internet without
verification, causing adverse social effects. After investigation and
verification, the public security agencies summoned eight individual who
violated the law and dealt with them in accordance with the law. The
police reminds everyone that the Internet is not a place outside the
law. Publishing information and speech on the Internet should comply
with laws and regulations. The police will, in accordance with the law,
investigate and deal with illegal acts of fabricating, publishing, and
spreading rumors and disrupting social order, and will not tolerate
them. It is hoped that the majority of Internet users will abide by
relevant laws and regulations, and will not fabricate rumors, believe
rumors, or spread rumors, and will build a harmonious and clean
|Source: David Paulk, Head of News at China's state sponsored media outlet SixthTone, https://twitter.com/davidpaulk/status/1212717577614442498|
At 8:11 pm the same day the Hubei government reposted that information on their website.
At 11:40 am on January 2, 2020, China's official state television news station broadcast this information nationwide.
At 10:09 pm on January 02, 2020, China's state sponsored media outlet SixthTone published an English language report titled "8 Accused of ‘Spreading Rumors’ Amid Wuhan Pneumonia Outbreak." According to that report:
When Sixth Tone called the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on Thursday, a staff member said she did not know when the first infections were reported. Staff at the provincial and municipal disease control centers said it was “inconvenient” to comment. Several users on microblogging platform Weibo responded angrily in the comments section under the police notice. 'People spread rumors precisely because the authorities didn’t respond in a timely manner — so how can we be blamed?' one user wrote. 'Don’t I have the right to know the truth, be afraid, and try to save myself?'
In a series of tweets between January 2 and January 6, David Paulk, head of news at SixthTone, reported that that story had been "pulled" shortly after it was published.
At 10:19 am on January 31, 2020, David Paulk, head of news at SixthTone, tweeted that that article had in fact been "censored."
At 12:14 pm on January 31, 2020, Dr. Li Wenliang posted the following on his personal Sina Weibo (xiaolwl - https://m.weibo.cn/detail/4466768535861595):
Hello everyone, I am Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital. On December 30th, I saw a patient's test report that detected a high-confidence positive indicator of the SARS coronavirus. In order to remind my classmates to pay attention and protect themselves, and because my classmates are also clinicians, I posted news stating that "7 cases of SARS were confirmed" in a [WeChat] group. After the news was sent, on January 3rd, the Public Security Bureau found me and I signed a letter of reprimand. I have been working normally since then. After receiving patients with novel coronavirus pneumonia, I started to have cough symptoms on January 10, fever on the 11th, and was hospitalized on the 12th. At that time, I was still thinking about why it was reports were still saying that there was no human-to-human transmission, and there was no infection among medical workers. Later, I was admitted to the ICU. I had a nucleic acid test previously, but the results never came out. After undergoing treatment, I was tested again recently, and my nucleic acid was negative, but I still have difficulty breathing and cannot be active. My parents are also in the hospital. In the ward, I also saw the support and encouragement from many Internet users, and my mood became somewhat lighter. Thanks for everyone's support. I want to clarify here that I have not had my license revoked. Please rest assured that I will actively cooperate with the treatment and strive to be discharged early! Wuhan, Wuhan Central Hospital.
大家好，我是武汉市中心医院眼科医生李文亮。12月30日，我看到一份病人的检测报告，检出SARS冠状病毒高置信度阳性指标，出于提醒同学注意防护的角度，因为我同学也都是临床医生，所以在群里发布了消息说“确诊了7例SARS”。消息发出后，1月3日，公安局找到我并签了训诫书。之后我一直正常工作，在接诊了新冠病毒肺炎患者后，1月10号我开始出现咳嗽症状，11号发热，12号住院。 那时候我还在想通报怎么还在说没有人传人，没有医护感染，后来住进了ICU，之前做了一次核酸检测，但一直没出结果。经过治疗最近又进行一次检测，我的核酸显示为阴性了，但目前仍然呼吸困难，无法活动。我的父母也在住院中。在病房里，我也看到很多网友对我的支持和鼓励，我的心情也会轻松一些，谢谢大家的支持。在此我想特别澄清，我没有被吊销执照，请大家放心，我一定积极配合治疗，争取早日出院！ 武汉·武汉市中心医院
Letter of Reprimand
Reprimandee Li Wenliang_Gender Male_Birth Year and Month [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
ID Number and Type [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
Current Address (Household Registration Location) Wuhan [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
Work Unit Wuhan Central Hospital
Illegal Act(s) (Time, Location, Participants, Number of Participants, Issues Reported, Consequences, etc.) On December 30, 2019, published false statements about 7 cases of SARS confirmed in the South China Fruit and Seafood Market in the WeChat group "[OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]."
You are hereby issued a warning and reprimand in accordance with the law with respect to the illegality of your untruthful remarks on the Internet. Your behavior seriously disrupted social order. Your behavior has exceeded the boundaries of what is legally permitted and violated the relevant provisions of the Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China. This was an illegal act!
The public security agency hopes that you will actively cooperate in this matter, obey the advice of the Civil Police, and stop the illegal activities to date. Can you do it?
We hope you will calm down and reflect carefully, and we solemnly admonish you: If you adhere stubbornly to your own opinions, refuse to repent, and continue to engage in illegal activities, you will be punished by the law! Do you understand what is being said?
Reprimandee: Li Wenliang
Reprimander: [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
January 3, 2020
Work Unit: [Seal of the Zhongnan Precinct, Public Security Bureau of Wuchang, Wuhan]
被训诫人 李文亮_性别男_出身年月[OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
身份证号各类及号码 [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
现住址(戶籍所在地) 武汉市[OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
违法行为(时间、地点、参与人、人数、反映何问题、后果等) 2019年12月30日在微信群"[OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]"发表有关华南水果海鲜市场确诊7例SARS 的不属实的言论。
训诫人: [OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]
工作单位: [武汉市公安局 武昌分局 中南路街派出所]
Caixin Reporter: The police made their first report on January 1, saying that eight rumormongerss had been summoned, and you were called to the police station on January 3? Does this mean that you were one of those eight people being dealt with?
Li Wenliang: This is not clear. I am not sure. What you said is possible. I just want to get well soon.
Caixin Reporter: The "Letter of Reprimand" given to you by the police you spread false statements on the Internet. At that time, some people believed you were spreading rumors. How do you see it?
Li Wenliang: I don't think it was rumormongering, because the report clearly stated it was SARS. And I just wanted to remind my classmates to pay attention, and I had no desire to cause a panic. . . .
Caixin Reporter: Since you don't think it was rumormongering, have you ever thought about going through judicial channels to ask for an explanation?
Li Wenliang: No, the judicial system may be very troublesome. I don't want to make trouble with the Public Security Bureau. I am afraid of trouble. Everyone knows that the truth is most important. . . .
Caixin Reporter: On January 28, the Supreme Court issued a commentary on the official account on whether the punishment of eight “rumormongers” in Wuhan was appropriate. You may be among these eight people. What thoughts did you have when you saw it?
Li Wenliang: After reading the Supreme Court's article, I felt greatly relieved and was not too worried about what the hospital would do. I think that a healthy society should not have only one voice, and I don't agree that public power power should be used to interfere excessively.
NYT: How did you feel when the police accused you of spreading rumors?
Dr. Li: The police believed this virus was not confirmed to be SARS. They believed I was spreading rumors. They asked me to acknowledge that I was at fault. I felt I was being wronged, but I had to accept it. Obviously I had been acting out of good will. I felt very sad seeing so many people losing their loved ones.
Both of the screenshots below were taken around 1:20 am on February 7, 2020. The screenshot on the left shows that a search for "political emergency treatment" [政治性抢救] returned results that included the hashtag "Li Wenliang passed away" [李文良去世]. The screenshot on the right shows that a search for "Li Wenliang political emergency treatment" [李文良 政治性抢救] returned no results.
This screenshot shows Baidu search results for Li Wenliang's phrase "a healthy society should not have only one voice" [一个健康的社会不该只有一种声音] on February 8, 2020. The top result is a post on Baidu's on PostBar [贴吧] social media platform.
3. Lawyer Chen Qiushi [陳秋實]
|Archived version of Chen Qiushi's bio from his law firm's website. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20190904025810/http://www.longanlaw.com/professionals/9337.html/|
4. Beijing University Legal Scholar He Weifang [贺卫方]
Let us not mention that January 7 was already a month into the outbreak of the epidemic, or that it is difficult to understand what the content of the deployment and mobilization was. Here is a shocking fact: the content of the statements made on January 7 concerning the Wuhan epidemic seems to have been handled by the official media in the manner of "retain it within the walls of the imperial palace and do not publicize it," and the outside world was left completely unaware. Was the speaker aware that he had been "blocked," or that it was inappropriate to let the public know? After all is said and done, the root of the matter lies in a lack of freedom.
If newspapers and television stations in Wuhan and Hubei could report the epidemic freely and responsibly, why should they rely on this bureaucratic system of mutual blame? Why do so many people in Wuhan and the whole country get infected and suffer such misfortune? !
Alas, I've said enough. I hope this painful price can make those in authority realize: Without freedom of the press, not only is are the lives of the people made difficult, but there is no trust in the government, much less modern governance capabilities and systems.
- A search on Baidu web search for "He Weifang" returned over 4 million results, including results from social media (blog.sina.com.cn) and foreign (wikipedia.org) websites (outlined in blue).
- A search on Baidu Zhidao for "He Weifang" returned over 292,000 results.
- Baidu users had established a PostBar (Tieba) forum on "He Weifang."
- A search on Baidu web search for "He Weifang" returned over 700,000 results, with no results from social media or foreign websites.
- A search on Baidu Zhidao for "He Weifang" returned no results.
- Baidu has banned users from establishing a PostBar (Tieba) forum on "He Weifang."
5. Tsinghua University Legal Scholar Xu Zhangrun [许章润]
As a result, the potential for meaningful public discussion is stifled. By the same token, the very channels of communication that should in normal circumstances exist for the dissemination of public information are choked off, and a meaningful, civic early-warning system that could play a crucial role at times of local or national emergency is thereby outlawed. In its place we have an evolving form of military tyranny that is underpinned by an ideology that I call “Legalistic-Fascist-Stalinism”, one that is cobbled together from strains of traditional harsh Chinese Legalist thought wedded to an admix of the Leninist-Stalinist interpretation of Marxism along with the “Germano-Aryan” form of fascism.
- Baidu: No results.
- Qihoo: Results restricted to a white list of about 10 websites under the control of the central government, none of which are related to Xu Zhangrun's essay.
- Sogou: Results restricted to a white list of about 10 websites under the control of the central government, none of which are related to Xu Zhangrun's essay.
6. Former Lawyer Xu Zhiyong [许志永]
|Soucre: "Mr. Fashion" [时尚先生] official blog, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20090809125245/http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_47404fc70100efcv.html|