Wuhan Central Hospital has officially announced the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang.
Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, who blew the whistle on the novel coronavirus back in December and was later arrested by authorities in China, had died as a result of contracting the virus after Chinese state media reported his death, causing an uproar on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. Corporate media quickly picked up the story and ran with it, clearly communicating that Li was a victim of 2019-
However, Wuhan Central Hospital quickly denied reports of Li’s death, claiming he was still alive but in critical condition. It has now been revealed that the hospital and Chinese state media walked back on the initial report and ordered the deceased doctor be put back on life support in an attempt to control the narrative, after seeing the reaction on Weibo. U.S. corporate media immediately took note and changed their headlines and reports to fall in line with what Chinese state media was reporting. Almost instantly TMU was inundated with comments on our social media platforms labeling this article as fake news.
It appears that not long after, Chinese officials became aware that their efforts to control the narrative failed and again walked back on their reports. After confirming his death, yet again, corporate media changed their headlines and their reports yet again.
BBC’s Ross Atkins explained what happened:
The story of how China announced the death of Dr Li Wenliang & then allegedly told doctors to put his body on life support & say he was ‘critical’. A grotesque end to the story of a brave man who tried to warn about the coronavirus & has now died from it. Produced @brysonandy pic.twitter.com/yy4hngupl0
— Ros Atkins (@BBCRosAtkins) February 6, 2020
This series of events is an excellent example of what independent media outlets like the Mind Unleashed deal with on a daily basis, albeit on a larger and more urgent scale. Fact checkers on social media platforms like Facebook are scanning our content daily looking for details they can flag as false, thus forcing us to jump through hoops to remove these strikes that inhibit our readers from seeing our content in their feeds. But today’s reporting on Dr. Li Wenliang showed us that news consumers are now acting as fact checkers themselves. The fake news scare has been so successful that readers are buying into the “if you see something, say something” marketing ploy resulting in comments and reports at the behest of the establishment narrative.
What this experience also showed was that U.S. corporate media is more than willing to report whatever China’s government and state media reports as fact despite a wealth of evidence that China’s government censors and issues false information in order to keep a tight grip on their preferred narrative. In the midst of a deadly pandemic is not the time to blindly trust reports from a not typically trustworthy source. In the midst of a deadly pandemic is the time to use resources and people power to investigate and search for hard proof. Unfortunately independent media does not have the same resources as corporate media giants but we do have a strong enough set of morals to not simply parrot the establishment narrative and flip flop our headlines simply because another country’s state media does.
Despite early praise from the World Health Organization (WHO) for China on their response to the recent novel coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese government is facing increasing backlash for its treatment of whistleblowers and journalists sharing news about the illness.
For public health situations such as this, the Chinese government has a strict bureaucracy in place to ensure that any information or direction comes directly from the authorities, which means that anyone sharing information different from official statements is considered a risk to national “harmony” or “security.”
Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor working in Wuhan, was among the first of these whistleblowers who attempted to get the word out about the virus before it spread throughout the country. Today, global media reports have indicated that Li is the most recent victim of the virus, having just passed away after contracting 2019-
The doctor first learned about the virus in late December when seven patients came through his hospital with a “SARS-like illness” and were subsequently quarantined.
The doctor sent out a post in his medical school alumni group on the Chinese messaging app WeChat about the situation, telling his friends to be careful. Screenshots of the post quickly went viral across WeChat before reaching global social media.
On January 3rd, Li and a few other medics at the hospital were arrested by the Wuhan police for rumor-mongering.
After an intense interrogation, Police allowed Li to return to home and to work after signing a statement promising not to commit further “unlawful acts.”
By January 12, just over a week after he was interrogated, Li was hospitalized and was suspected of having the virus. However, he did not test positive for the virus until February 1, after being hospitalized for nearly an entire month. Less than a week later, on February 6, he was reported to have died.
Li’s death is as tragic as it is concerning given that he was a young and healthy adult—not the typical immunocompromised cases we expect to see from something that people have been comparing to the flu—and was battling the virus on the frontlines.
One of the few U.S. citizens being vocal about their experience in quarantined Wuhan, being evacuated from China, and their resulting quarantine in the U.S. has expressed her suspicions about the situation on Twitter.
The CV whistle blowing doctor dying seems completely normal, and not at all suspicious….
— 𝒫𝓇𝒶𝓎 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝒲𝓊𝒽𝒶𝓃 (@plantsNbabes) February 6, 2020
I think it’s suspicious.
— 𝒫𝓇𝒶𝓎 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝒲𝓊𝒽𝒶𝓃 (@plantsNbabes) February 6, 2020
The official number of confirmed cases is around 28,275 at time of publishing, with a vast majority of those cases being confirmed in China. A total of 565 deaths have been reported with all but two having occurred in China.
Just moments ago, Wuhan Central Hospital denied reports of Li Wenliang’s death and claimed he was still alive but in critical condition.