In late December 2019, and into early 2020, the severity of a new SARS-like virus became clear to several doctors and citizen journalists at the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan, China.
The 8 tried to warn each other, Chinese citizens, and the entire world that a deadly pandemic was on the loose, and likely coming your way.
By this stage the Chinese Communist party (CCP) was in a panicked, full cover-up mode, desperate to contain both the virus, and any news of the virus getting out in order to avoid the worst-case scenario imaginable for the CCP; a threat to their power. To them, nothing else matters.
The CCP’s first line of defense against the truth from citizens was of course, draconian censorship, including harsh reprimands, followed by forced ‘quarantines’ and detention.
The eight brave doctors and journalists who charged headlong into the path of the pandemic, who are now all either confirmed deceased, still missing, presumed dead, or at best, never to be seen again, came to be known as; The Wuhan 8.
Had they not been silenced, and had they been able to warn the world, 95% of the global disaster that is the CCP virus pandemic could have been avoided.
The Wuhan 8 are martyrs, global heroes, and should never, must never be forgotten.
The Wuhan 8;
1. Dr. Li Wenliang (Ophthalmologist, Wuhan Central Hospital)
2. Ai Fen (Director, Emergency Department, Wuhan Central Hospital)
3. Chen Qiushi & Fang Bin (Citizen journalists)
4. Li Zehua (citizen journalist)
5. Xu Zhiyong (Human rights activist)
6. Ren Zhiqiang (Outspoken real-estate tycoon)
7. Xu Zhangrun (Professor, Tsinghua University)
8. Xie Linka (Dr, Wuhan Union Hospital)
2. 艾芬 (武汉市中心医院急诊科主任)
3. 陈秋实 & 方斌
6. 任志强 (“任大炮”)
7. 许章润 (清华大学)
8. 谢琳卡 (武汉协和医院)
Dr. Li Wenliang (李文亮);
2 October 1986 – 7 February 2020.
On the 30th of December, 2019, Dr Li Wenliang, part of a ‘WeChat‘ chat group of Wuhan Doctors, received a message via the chat. Another doctor in the chat, and one of the Wuhan 8, Dr Ai Fen, took a photo of a patient’s CT scan and test results and had circled “SARS coronavirus” in red, and shared it to the chat group.
On the same day, at 17:43, Dr. Li Wenliang sent out a warning to about 150 medical students in a ‘WeChat‘ chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection.
At 18:42, he added; “the latest news is, it has been confirmed that they are coronavirus infections, but the exact virus strain is being subtyped”
After screenshots of his WeChat messages were shared on Chinese Internet and gained more attention, the supervision department of his hospital summoned him for a talk, blaming him for leaking the information.
Police monitoring chats contacted him and told him to “stop making false comments“.
He was arrested shortly after.
On 3 January 2020, police from the Wuhan Public Security Bureau investigating the case interrogated Li, issued a formal written warning and censuring him for “making false comments on the Internet“.
He was made to sign a letter of admonition promising not to do it again. The police warned him that any recalcitrant behaviour would result in a prosecution.
The police punishment of Li for “rumor mongering” was aired on state television, signalling central government endorsement for the reprimand, according to two reporters for the South China Morning Post.
The punishment of the eight doctors for “rumor-mongering,” broadcast on national television, sent a chill through the city’s hospitals.
Dr Li returned to work at the hospital and contracted the virus on 8 January.
On 31 January, he published his experience with the police and the letter of admonition on social media. His post went viral and users questioned why the doctors who gave earlier warnings were silenced by the authorities.
“I was feverish on January 11 and was hospitalised the next day. Back then, the government still insisted that there was no human-to-human transmission, and said none of the medical staff had been infected. I was just confused,”Dr Li Wenliang, Weibo, January 31
He died from the CCP virus on 7 February 2020, at age 33.
In social media posts, Chinese state media reported that Li had died, but the posts were soon deleted, as the CCP feared making a martyr of him.
Later, Wuhan Central Hospital released a statement contradicting reports of his death. During the confusion, more than 17 million people were watching the live stream for his status updates.
Dr Ai Fen (艾芬);
On the 30th of December, 2019, Dr. Ai Fen (艾芬) received a screenshot of a ‘WeChat‘ conversation from a friend, asking if the conversation in the screenshot were true. It said: “Don’t go to South China recently, there are many people with high fever …” She confirmed it was true and at that moment, was watching a CT of a typical patient with pulmonary infection on the computer.
She sent her colleague an 11-second video of the CT and told him that this was a patient who came to our emergency department in the morning and was in the South China Seafood market.
That night, the report spread to doctor circles in Wuhan, and those who forwarded the report included the other doctors who were disciplined by the police.
On the same day, a colleague of Dr. Ai Fen showed her a report that said: “SARS coronavirus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, 46 kinds of oral/respiratory colonization bacteria. “
It read: “Novel SARS coronavirus is a single-stranded positive-strand RNA virus. The main mode of transmission of the virus is close-range droplet transmission or contact with respiratory secretions of patients, which can cause a special pneumonia that is obviously contagious and can affect multiple organ systems, also known as atypical pneumonia.”
Dr Ai Fen took a photo of a patient’s test results and circled “SARS coronavirus” in red, and shared it to the group chat of doctors;
While it’s said that Dr Li Wenliang is the whistle-blower, it was Dr Ai Fen who provided the whistle.
She is known as “The Whistle-Giver” (发哨子的人). “I am not a whistleblower,” Ai told Renwu magazine in a March 10 interview. “I am the one who provided the whistle.”
On the 1st of January, 2020, Ai Fen was summoned by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee. Dr Ai said she faced ‘unprecedented, extremely harsh reprimanded‘ and was accused of ‘spreading rumours as a professional‘ by the hospital’s officials.
After her meeting with the authorities she says she went home and told her husband he might need to raise their child on his own if anything happened to her.
On the morning of 11 January, it was reported to Dr. Ai that Hu Ziwei, a nurse in the emergency room of the emergency department, was infected. She is the first infected nurse in the central hospital.
But while the hospital originally noted in her diagnostic report that she was suffering from “viral pneumonia”, it later changed the description of her ailment to “infections”.
In a meeting with doctors on 16 January, officials of the hospital insisted on denying the existence of transfer of this virus infection among humans.
Later in February, rumors began circulating that Dr. Ai Fen had died of the CCP virus, but on the 20th of February, Ai Fen clarified that she was not sick and was still working as a doctor fighting the virus.
On 10 March 2020, the Chinese magazine, Renwu, or’People’ magazine, China, interviewed Ai and published her first-person account in its article; “The Whistle-Giver” (发哨子的人).
“If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have fucking talked about it to whoever, where ever I could,” she said in the interview.Dr Ai Fen, RENWU MAGAZINE interview, March 30, 2020.
Ai’s interview was forcibly removed within three hours of its publication. The CCP’s censorship machine went into overdrive stamping out the article, removing all copies from shelves, and hunting it down and deleting all other copies that had been republished by other mainland sites online by noon that day. All subsequent re-posts are deleted automatically, leading people to suspect the CCP is using an algorithm to detect the article and censor it.
A faithful English translation can be found here.
However, despite the article being heavily censored, the creativity of internet users allowed it to continue to circulate. The post has now been re-published in English, German, Japanese, emoji, Braille, Morse, elven runes, DNA code, etc. Here is a page with a some examples.
The interview has been dubbed by Chinese netizens as the “smoking gun, the proof of China’s cover-up.”
On March 16th, Dr. Ai Fen’s (whereabouts now unknown by this date), Weibo account cryptically posts; “A river. A bridge. A road. A clock chime.” And a picture of the Wuhan river. It’s unclear if she posted the message herself, or it was done by someone else with access to her account.
By the end of March, she was declared “missing” by Radio Free Asia (RFA).
On the 13th of April, 2020, a video surfaced of Dr Ai Fen on her social media account, with her stating that she is OK. Chinese netizens feel she made the statement under duress. That post is the last known sighting of Dr Ai Fen, and as of the date of publishing her whereabouts is still unknown.
Chen Qiushi & Fang Bin (陈秋实 & 方斌);
Citizen journalists, Fang Bin and Chen Qiushi were both determined to share and report what they could about the crisis in Wuhan, and sharing what they found with the outside world.
As a result, they racked up thousands of views on their videos. But their channels have now gone quiet, and those who follow them online fear they may have disappeared for good.
Chen Quishi, 34, lawyer, arrived in Wuhan on January 23, and subsequently disappeared on February 6.
Chen was blocked from Chinese social media for his reports on the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, so he began using Twitter and Youtube to continue his reporting.
One of Chen’s videos showed a woman next to a dead man in a wheelchair making desperate phone calls for help to move her relative’s body.
Chen visited funeral homes and even the market where many claim the virus originated.
“I am afraid. In front of me is disease. Behind me is China’s legal and administrative power. But as long as I am alive I will speak about what I have seen and what I have heard. I am not afraid of dying. Why should I be afraid of you, Communist Party?”Chen Qiushi Jan. 30, a week before his disappearance
Chen disappeared on 6 February, and Chen’s mother issued a plea about her son’s disappearance in the early hours of Feb. 7 that went viral.
“I am asking everyone, especially if you are in Wuhan, to help me look for Qiushi,” she said, adding that her son was “missing in action.”
A day after Chen disappeared, in Qingdao, the eastern Chinese city where Chen’s parents live, city officials together with officials from the Ministry of State Security visited Chen’s father at his workplace. They asked questions about his entire family and said that Chen was “under control” and in “quarantine.”
On 23 March, the Chinese Ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, stated in an interview that he’d never heard of Chen.
Vice article on Chen, May 6th.
Fang Bin was arrested several times between February 1st and 9th 2020, for repeatedly filming in and around Wuhan hospitals, and using a VPN to upload his videos to the global video platform YouTube, a site banned in China.
Fang recorded his first video on January 25, 2020. His video’s mostly show himself and the situation in different districts of Wuhan.
On February 1, 2020, Fang released a new video showing the piling up of corpses in orange body bags in the back of a minivan in front a Wuhan hospital. Fang was arrested on the same day, warned and eventually released during the night.
A compilation of Fang’s CCP virus videos can be seen here, including his live-streaming video of his forced-entry home arrest.
The last video he posted to his YouTube channel is a 13 second video of a calligraphy script that says; ‘All citizens resist, hand power back to the people.”
He has been missing since his arrest, February 9, 2020.
Li Zehua (李泽华);
Li Zehua is a Chinese citizen journalist, rapper and YouTuber.
He became a televison presenter with state-run China Central Television (CCTV) in 2016. Early in the pandemic, he resigned from CCTV and made his way to Wuhan, hoping to trace disappeared journalist Chen Qiushi. Before his detention, he posted videos from crematoriums, virology labs, and funeral homes inside the lockdown zone.
On February 26th, Li Zehua live-streamed a video titled “SOS emergency help I am being chased” from his car in Wuhan while he was being followed. He disappeared later that day.
His webcam was running when they came to collect him at his Wuhan residence [video. Eng. subs] At least three men entered his apartment, identifying themselves as public security.
Li was also secretly streaming the scene to a friend via Skype, and that footage, which was subsequently uploaded to YouTube, shows the people searching through Li’s flat before that video too goes dark.
Li was detained and taken to Badajia Police Station in the Qingshan District of Wuhan where he was told he was being charged with disturbing the public order. His fingerprints, blood, and DNA were taken and he was interrogated for the next 12 hours.
On 22 April 2020, Li reemerged and posted a statement video on Youtube, Twitter, and Weibo, praising his captors who arrested, interrogated, and confined him for two months. In the six-minute YouTube video, Li Zehua praises the security forces for acting in a “civilized way.” The video shows Li standing in front of a white background talking to the camera.
According to The Guardian, Li’s neutral tone in the video was “very different from his previous videos“, suggesting the statement was made under duress.
Xu Zhiyong (许志永);
Xu Zhiyong has been a thorn in the CCP’s side for close to two decades.
He was one of the founders of the NGO Open Constitution Initiative (Gong Meng – 公盟), and an active rights lawyer in China who helped those underprivileged, and He is the main founder and icon of the New Citizens’ Movement in China.
Xu’s Open Constitution Initiative (OCI) represented parents whose children were sickened by chemical-tainted milk, a regulatory scandal that embarrassed the CCP, and led to the collapse of one of the nation’s biggest dairy companies.
Unlike other human rights activists, Xu firmly and carefully pushed his calls for political change and social justice in existing laws, and his group has been regarded as relatively cautious and conservative. In his recent interview before his arrest, he described his dream;
“I wish our country could be a free and happy one. Every citizen need not go against their conscience and can find their own place by their virtue and talents; a simple and happy society, where the goodness of humanity is expanded to the maximum, and the evilness of humanity is constrained to the minimum; honesty, trust, kindness, and helping each other are everyday occurrences in life; there is not so much anger and anxiety, a pure smile on everyone’s face.”–Xu Zhiyong
In 2003, he was elected to the Haidian District People’s Congress as an independent. He won re-election in 2006.
In 2009, July 29, he was arrested at his home, and detained by Chinese authorities. The Open Constitution Initiative (OCI), which Xu co-founded, had been fined 1.46 million RMB on July 14, for ‘dodging taxes’ and was shut down by the authorities by declaring it “illegal”. At the same time Xu’s colleague Zhuang Lu was also arrested by authorities.
In the 2011 election, Xu’s name was pulled off the electoral candidate list, but he still gathered more than 3,500 votes out of 22,000 voters in his district.
After the OCI was shut down, Xu Zhiyong and supporters adopted the name “New Citizens” to continue their cause. In May 2012, Xu formally established the New Citizens’ Movement as the continuation of their activism.
In 2013, In an April 12 blog post, Xu describes how the police pulled him from a flight to Hong Kong and questioned him about the New Citizens’ Movement and public dinners he has helped organize to discuss issues of civil rights and democracy. Both this blog post and his April 23 essay on the New Citizens’ Movement are translated here.
Xu Zhiyong was placed under house arrest for more than three months, before being formally arrested on August 22. His trial started on Jan 22, 2014 and he was sentenced to four years in prison for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”.
Xu and his lawyer Zhang Qingfang remained silent throughout the trial (except for his closing statement) to protest the violation of basic legal procedure. Xu’s closing statement was cut short by the judge, but the text was circulated on the internet and raised tremendous support.
Xu Zhiyong was released from prison on July 16, 2017, and on the 20th penned a essay titled; “Four years in the distance“, posted to his new blog.
Xu published another essay early February 2020, which called on China’s president to resign for his lack of ability to govern China, citing the CCP virus crisis and the mishandling of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests – a dangerous move that guarantees anger form the party.
In other posts on social media Xu publicly asked Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping to resign, for what he described as an obvious inability to handle the CCP virus pandemic.
“Seven years ago, I appealed to you to lead China to become a nation that respects democracy and the constitution, but in return I was thrown in jail for four years,”-Xu Zhiyong
“And now, your men are still looking for me trying to throw me back in jail again. I don’t think you are a villain, just someone who is not very smart. For the public’s sake, I’m asking you again: Step down, Mr Xi Jinping.”
He was then arrested.
Xu’s detention is likely to end in a lengthy jail term, because he has previously been jailed and the authorities tend to punish repeated offenders harshly. “We’re very pessimistic, it certainly won’t be a light sentence in view of the current situation,” his friend and fellow activist Hua Ze said.
Activists say the authorities are using the CCP virus epidemic as an opportunity to intensify their crackdown on dissent.
Xu is listed in the ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’ 2013, by Foreign Policy.
Ren Zhiqiang (任志强);
Ren Zhiqiang is a Chinese former real estate tycoon, a member of the Communist Party of China (CCP) and the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and was a blogger on ‘Weibo‘ and ‘QQ‘, with more than 37 million followers before his accounts were shutdown.
Nicknamed “Big Cannon Ren”, as he is known for his outspoken criticism of the Party. As a property tycoon with forthright views he has been called “China’s Donald Trump”.
In 1984 he joined Beijing Huayuan Group Corporation as a department head. He was imprisoned in September 1985, and was released 14 months later without being convicted of any crime. According to his long-time colleague, the reason for his imprisonment was because he had offended the head of the audit department of Beijing’s Xicheng District.
On Feb. 19th, 2016, Xi Jinping toured state-run media; Xinhua, People’s Daily, & CCTV news.
Xi said all news media run by the party must speak for the party’s will and protect its authority and unity. “All news media run by the party bear the surname of ‘party’”
Ren addressed the Xi’s 2016 speech in two posts on his Weibo account;
“When does the people’s government turn into the party’s government? [Are the media] funded by party membership dues? Don’t waste tax-payer’s money on things that do not provide them with services”Ren Zhiqiang
He also wrote: “Are there two opposite camps now? When all media have surnames and do not represent public interests, the people will be forgotten and abandoned!”
The posts were subsequently deleted, but on 22 February 2016, state-affiliated media accused Ren of advocating the overthrow of the Communist Party, and on the 28th his social accounts were closed by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), cutting Ren off from 37 million web followers.
“Internet users had reported that Ren Zhiqiang’s account was continuously publishing illegal information, and the impact was vile,” said Jiang Jun, the regulator’s spokesman. “All online platforms should refuse to provide channels for illegal speech.“
The Xicheng District CCP Committee, where Ren’s party membership is registered, vowed to punish him under party rules. He was put on probation.
“saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes,’ but a clown stripped naked who insisted on continuing being emperor“.Ren Zhiqiang
He went missing shortly after.
Three of Ren’s friends told Reuters that he has not been contactable since March 12; “Many of our friends are looking for him,” his close friend and businesswoman Wang Ying said in a statement to Reuters, describing them as being “extremely anxious”.
“Ren Zhiqiang is a public figure and his disappearance is widely know. The institutions responsible for this need to give a reasonable and legal explanation for this as soon as possible,” she said.
On 7 April, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection released a statement that Ren was being investigated for alleged “serious violations of law and discipline”.
At the time of writing his whereabouts is unknown.
Update: Sept. 23, Ren Zhiqiang was jailed for 18 years on Tuesday, September 22nd, for “corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds“, a court statement said.
It also stated that the 69-year-old “voluntarily and truthfully confessed all his crimes“, and would not appeal the court’s decision.
He was also fined 4.2 million yuan (US$620,000).
Xu Zhangrun (许章润);
Xu Zhangrun is a Chinese jurist. He is a professor of Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law at Tsinghua University, and a research fellow with the Unirule Institute of Economics.
In July 2018, Xu published an essay [English translation], in which the title translates as “Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes”, where he rebukes the recent policy shifts of general secretary Xi Jinping, including the abolition of term limits and the restoration of a cult of personality, Chairman Mao style.
In April 2019, friends reported that the authorities had prohibited Xu from leaving the country. He was stopped from boarding a flight to Japan on a trip authorized and funded by Tsinghua University.
You can’t avoid getting burnt if you bathe in the sun” Xu was quoted by a friend of saying. “Writing is our duty, [we] must carry on.”Xu Zhangrun, 2019
“We must say what needs to be said. What else should a scholar concern himself with? Other than the greater good of our country? It’s our call of duty.”
In February 2020, Xu published an essay ‘Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear‘, condemning the CCP’s response to their virus outbreak.
Xu condemns how the government banned the reporting of factual information during the outbreak and connects this problem to a larger freedom of speech issue in China.
Police placed Xu under house arrest soon after he returned to Beijing from his lunar new year break at his home town in Anhui province.
“They confined him at home under the pretext that he had to be quarantined after the trip,” the friend said. “He was in fact under de facto house arrest and his movements were restricted.”
After the publication of the 2020 essay, Xu’s friends say that since publication, Xu’s account has been suspended on WeChat, a Chinese messaging app, and many have been unable to get in touch with him for days. His name has been scrubbed from Weibo, with only articles from official websites several years ago showing up on the country’s biggest search engine, Baidu. Calls to his mobile phone continue to go unanswered.
It is believed he is under house arrest.
Xie Linka (谢琳卡);
Xie Linka is a Chinese doctor, known as one of the whistleblowers of the CCP virus pandemic in Wuhan, China. She graduated with a PhD from the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and is the attending physician of the Cancer Center at Wuhan Union Hospital.
On the 30th of December, 2019, at the beginning of the pandemic, Xie Linka published a message at 8:43 pm in the WeChat group of her tumor center at Wuhan Union Hospital. She stated;
“Don’t visit Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the near future. Right now, many people there have contacted unexplained pneumonia (similar to SARS). Our hospital has treated many pneumonia patients from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market today. Everyone, note to wear masks and respirators,” and said that her source was “news posted in our alum group by a junior female from my hospital.”Xie Linka – WeChat message
Around 3 January 2020, Xie received a call from the Wuhan Police, instructing her not to spread “false information”.
Xie later stated in an interview that “early warning” is part of a doctor’s duty.
On February 1, a reporter from the Economic Observation Network contacted Dr. Xie for an interview. A transcript of the interview can be read here [requires translation].
I was unable to find a single picture of Dr. Xie Linka.
–The Japan Times; ‘No ‘negative’ news: How China censored the coronavirus‘