WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- The Chinese police detained a scholar and lawyer critical of the country’s coronavirus measures.
- The scholar, Zhang Xuezhong, was taken by authorities Sunday evening following an open letter criticizing the government.
- Zhang wrote that China’s communist governance was backward, and “the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 epidemic is a good illustration of the problem.”
The police authorities have arrested a Chinese professor and a lawyer after writing a letter to the nation’s legislature, lambasting how the government handled the coronavirus outbreak, adding that freedom of speech is restricted in the country.
Referring to several sources, the South China Morning Post reported that the lawyer, Zhang Xuezhong, was taken from his home in Shanghai on Sunday night.
A day before he was arrested, Zhang posted the letter on messaging platform WeChat, and he addressed his criticism to the National People’s Congress and disseminated online as the Chinese Communist Party get readies to assemble for critical parliamentary hearings coming in two weeks.
“He was taken away on Sunday night. Three police cars came to his house,” Wen Kejian, a political analyst and a close friend of Zhang, told the website.
The 43-year-old Zhang said that the best way to fight for freedom of speech is for everyone to express their opinion freely.
The Morning Post reached out to the Shanghai police department, but its efforts were left unanswered.
A well-recognized critic of China’s legal and governmental system, Zhang, also said in the letter that without an updated constitution, the nation’s communist authority would remain backward, adding that the mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak shows an example of the situation.
By the time pandemic was first reported by late December in Wuhan, the infection also started to plague many countries. This led to a worldwide death toll of 282,000, with 4.1 million people confirmed positive with the virus.
Following the passing of COVID-19 whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang in February, calls for freedom of expression has mounted across the nation. Wenliang was one of the first experts who warned his associates about an illness similar to pneumonia in Wuhan, and he was amongst the eight people who were tagged rumor monger by the communist country’s authorities.
Dr. Li was reportedly obliged to sign an undertaking which forces him to align his action and beliefs with the Communist Party. He later passed away due to complications related to the coronavirus.
Zhang said in his letter: “Twenty-two days before the [lockdown to contain the outbreak] in the city, Wuhan was still investigating and punishing citizens who had disclosed the epidemic, including Dr Li Wenliang … showing how tight and arbitrary the government’s suppression of society is.”
China has repeatedly refuted claims by the U.S President Trump and other world leaders that it mismanaged the epidemic.
Zhang, meanwhile, debated that China shared some info with the U.S. as early as January, but failed to make its people aware of the crisis.
Source: New York Post