lørdag 15. februar 2020

‘This may be the last piece I write’: now a Xi critic’s words ring true

The Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun, who published a rare public critique of President Xi Jinping over China’s coronavirus crisis, has now been barred from social media, and his friends have not been able to contact him for several days, they told the Observer. His passionate attack on the government’s system of controls and censorship, Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear, was published last week as a powerful debate on freedom of speech convulsed the country.

The death on 7 February of whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang, who had tried to warn colleagues about the virus but was reprimanded and silenced by security forces, had triggered an outpouring of grief and anger and an unusual public discussion about censorship. “Li’s death has thoroughly exposed the ills of the party’s governance and control; this has a huge impact on people’s minds,” said Hong Zhenkuai, an independent historian who is currently working outside China, as a visiting scholar at Tokyo University.