onsdag 11. mars 2020

The World Sees a Public Health Crisis. Beijing Sees a Political Threat.

Over the past month, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has marshalled the country’s public security apparatus to track down and detain known activists and ordinary citizens who have shared information about the coronavirus outbreak, provided on-the-ground updates from the epicenter, or reflected upon the epidemic’s implications for China’s governance model.

But parts of the regime have also gone on the offensive against its political enemies more broadly, raising new questions about where party leaders’ priorities lie during a public health crisis and how far they will go to maintain their hold on power.

The disappearance of three Chinese citizen journalists who had been live-streaming updates from Wuhan has drawn international attention. The three men — businessman Fang Bin, lawyer Chen Qiushi, and former journalist Li Zehua — had separately recorded and disseminated video reports from inside the locked-down city, its hospitals, and its quarantine centers. Over the past month, all three have vanished into some form of custody, detained by police or possibly quarantined despite their reported good health.