Communist China sentences Zhang Zhan to 4 Years in Prison for Reporting on Covid-19 in Wuhan

On Monday, Chinese court sentences Zhang Zhang, a citizen reporter to 4 years in prison for reporting on the development of Covid-19 in Wuhan in its early days.

Zhan was convicted of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” by Pudong New Area People’s Court in Shanghai. The charge is apparently interpreted “broadly” and used by the police to stifle dissent. The maximum prison sentence allowed by the law is 5 years.

Zhan had travelled to Wuhan in February to report on the outbreak; while there, she posted short video clips to YouTube, some of which included interviews with Wuhan residents and footages of hospitals, crematorium, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

By mid-May however, she was arrested and accused of several charges, including spreading false information; the world knows that information regarding Covid-19 are all true.

The UN Human Rights office voiced its “deep concerns” for Zhan’s sentence, calling it excessive.

Her mother is devastated to hear of her daughter’s sentencing, as what Zhan had said were all true. Zhan’s attorney Ran Quanniu plans to appeal the decision, and explained that she believes she is being persecuted for exercising her freedom of speech. It certainly seems so from an American perspective.

Zhan is also currently physically unwell due to her long-term hunger strike; the Chinese officials had tied her hands to her waist, and nasogastric tube had been inserted into her nose, said Zhan’s other attorney, Zhang Keke.

Those in the Human Rights Watch argued that China had tried to avoid Western coverage of this event by scheduling the trial during the Christmas holiday period. China has also banned foreign media from the trial “due to the epidemic.”

The world has accused China of hiding the true extent of the outbreak in the early days of the Covid-19 breakout, which eventually led to the virus getting out of control and causing a massive global pandemic that has shut down the world in 2020.

Other journalists are still mostly missing from public spotlight: Fang Bin has been unseen since February, Chen Qiushi who is allegedly under close surveillance, and Li Zehua re-emerged after 2 months missing to say he was forcibly quarantined.