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Communist China sentenced a citizen journalist who reported on China’s early COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Zhang Zhan shared video footage of overwhelmed hospitals in the virus-stricken city and challenged the state-controlled media’s narrative about the virus, criticizing the Chinese Communist’s Party response to the outbreak.

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

It was Zhang’s public questioning of the government’s attempts to silence doctors and others who were outspoken about the spread of COVID-19 and her suggestions that “Wuhan’s lockdown had been enacted too harshly” that that CCP used to arrest and quiet her in May, claiming she was “making up false information.”

Shortly after her disappearance, arrest, and return to Shanghai, her hometown, the journalist began a hunger strike. Chinese authorities then chose to “force-feed her through a feeding tube and restrain her hands so Zhang could not pull it out.”

At her trial on Monday, Zhang was in a wheelchair. Her lawyer also said she “lost a significant amount of weight and was almost unrecognizable from even just a few weeks before.” Despite her condition, Zhang continued to condemn the CCP’s censorship of information and citizens such as her.

At least three other Chinese citizen journalists disappeared following their coverage of the Wuhan outbreaks. While two were reportedly released, one, Fang Bin, is still reported as missing.

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For months, corporate media outlets denied and suppressed that China purposefully allowed COVID-19 to spread. In fact, some such as CNN echoed propaganda celebrating China’s response.

While outlets such as The Federalist reported that China deliberately underreported the severity of its initial virus outbreak, it wasn’t until early December 2020 that legacy media pawns such as CNN reported the CCP was lying about the virus spreading rapidly in its cities.

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.



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