The authorities, seemingly in a panic at the outpouring of grief and anger, announced that Li was still being treated before reposting confirmation of his death hours later. “You think we’ve all gone to sleep?” posted one netizen? “No. We haven’t.”
In an interview with Chinese magazine Caixin before his death, Li delivered his own verdict on the government’s handling of the issue: “I think there should be more than one voice in a healthy society.” It is wise to be cautious about the political impact of a single event or, in this case, one person’s death, especially in China, which is ruled by an opaque Communist party. After all, can a virus that has so far claimed more than 700 lives, fewer than in a normal flu season in many countries, really hold the future of China in its thrall?