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The Chinese Government is Pure Filth

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  • The Chinese Government is Pure Filth

    Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan jailed for reporting on early COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan

    Zhang Zhan, a Chinese citizen journalist who reported from Wuhan during the early stages of the pandemic, was sentenced to four years in prison after being accused of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble." According to her lawyer, she has been on hunger strike since June.

    A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a citizen journalist who documented the early days of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison, sending a stark warning to those challenging the government’s official narrative of the pandemic.

    Zhang Zhan, the 37-year-old citizen journalist, was the first known person to face trial for chronicling China’s outbreak. Ms. Zhang, a former lawyer, had traveled to Wuhan from her home in Shanghai in February, at the height of China’s outbreak, to see the toll from the virus in the city where it first emerged. For several months she shared videos that showed crowded hospitals and residents worrying about their incomes.

    In China, the news media is tightly controlled by the state. Some citizen journalists try to offer more independent reporting, which they post on the internet and social media platforms. But their work is often censored and they are routinely punished.

    Ms. Zhang was fiercely critical of the government in her dispatches, asking why it had tried to silence whistle-blowers about the virus and questioning whether Wuhan’s lockdown had been enacted too harshly.

    She also directly challenged propaganda exalting the government response. Almost since the very beginning of the outbreak, the Chinese government has been locked in an unrelenting campaign to quash criticisms that it initially tried to conceal the virus. It has arrested other citizen journalists, threatened grieving family members and censored social media.

    In place of those criticisms, the government cast itself as responsible, benevolent and transparent in dealing with the public health emergency — an image that infuriated Ms. Zhang.

    “The government’s way of managing this city has just been intimidation and threats,” she said in one of her videos. “This is truly the tragedy of this country.”

    That turned out to be her last video. In May, Ms. Zhang abruptly stopped responding to messages. Her friends later learned that she had been arrested and brought back to Shanghai, accused of spreading lies and making up false information.

    In protest of her arrest and indictment, Ms. Zhang had begun a prolonged hunger strike, her lawyers said. In response, the authorities force-fed her through a feeding tube and restrained her hands so she could not pull it out.