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China Censored Social Media Outrage After Coronavirus Whistleblower Doctor Dies

A wave of grief and anger pass through social media after the death of one of the first doctors who flagged the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan comparing it with SARS. Many of these Chinese social media users were also frustrated with the way the government handled this outbreak as well as the coverup of SARS both of which had been deadly killing hundreds and infecting thousands.

In December, Li Wenliang, 34, who was an ophthalmologist rung the emergency alarm when he told group fo, Chinese doctors, on social media about the seven cases he saw. In January he along with seven other whistleblowers were charged by Wuhan police for trying to spread illegal and false information. Li himself got infected with coronavirus after treating patients. The Wuhan Central Hospital announced his death 2:58 am local time on China’s Twitter-like service Weibo.

Social media users in China were already angry and concerned about Li’s deteriorating health for several hours. State-run media already reported him dead since late Thursday but the hospital kept saying he was in critical condition. Even the World Health Organization expressed its condolences.

The social media was already buzzing and outpouring rage which soon combined with the frustration with the government’s handling of the outbreak has spread globally. By Friday morning, the two most trending hashtags on Weibo were related to Li’s death. One such hashtag that was trending in Weibo was #IWantFreedomOfSpeech but the hashtag gets censored.

Even WeChat which is China’s ubiquitous messaging app was also filled with condolences. These comments went from calling Li a hero to singing Do you Hear the People Sing from Les Miserables or to repeating Li’s quote to Caixin Media about a healthy society should not have only one voice. China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said later on Friday that they would send a team to Wuhan to investigate issues concerning Li.

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