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Chinese Government Sentences Journalist To Four Years In Jail For Reporting On The Spread Of The Coronavirus

from the we-have-ways-of-making-you-(not)-talk dept

Shortly after the coronavirus started showing up everywhere uninvited, President Trump decided to amplify his China-centric trade war with a war of words, referring to the new virus as the "China virus." The Chinese state media responded by suggesting the United States was actually the source of the virus, and then everything just kind of went to hell for awhile. Both countries took turns throwing each other's journalists out -- something that made a lot of noise but didn't really accomplish anything.

With that spat behind it, China went back to doing what it does best: locking up its own citizens. This was done with more enthusiasm than usual, since the state media's attempt to control the coronavirus narrative failed spectacularly, contradicted by local reports that managed to escape the Chinese government's blockade.

The government is still rounding up journalists and locking them up for reporting on the local spread of the virus. Zhang Zhan, former lawyer and current journalist, has been incarcerated since May of this year. She's accused of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble." The schoolground wording belies the severity of these charges, which are a convenient catch-all for journalists, dissidents, and critics of the state.

Little had been heard about Zhang's arrest (and the others that accompanied) since earlier this year. The government finally released information on the charges in mid-November. Zhang's charges -- which include accusations of spreading "false information" via the internet -- come with a recommended sentence of 4-6 years.

This isn't Zhang's first run-in with the Chinese government.

Zhang was previously detained on similar accusations by Chinese authorities in 2018, and again in 2019 for voicing support for Hong Kong activists. She was detained for more than two months and forced to undergo psychiatric assessments, CHRD said.

This one is the most severe, though. The government's previous attempts to intimidate Zhang into silence failed. Even if this latest attempt doesn't work, it will be a long time before the government has to worry about quarrels being picked or trouble stirred up by Zhang.

Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer and citizen journalist who was arrested in May while reporting from Wuhan, has been sentenced to four years in jail.

Zhang is one of at least a half-dozen journalists arrested for reporting on the situation in Wuhan as the virus spread earlier this year. The government won't allow competing narratives to stand. This was amply demonstrated weeks before the virus started wreaking havoc in other countries when the Chinese government arrested doctors and whistleblowers for sounding the alarm about the dangerous new illness.

Given the worldwide spread of the virus and the Chinese government's desire to distance itself from its failure to handle its own COVID problem, China should soon overtake a resurgent Turkey to reclaim the top spot on the Most Journalists Jailed chart.

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Filed Under: china, citizen journalism, covid, free speech, journalism, zhang zhan


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 11:44am

    The truth has nothing to fear from investigation

    If people accurately reporting on what's going on is seen and treated as a threat that's a pretty clear admission that the 'official narrative' is filled with lies and not to be trusted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Ho Ming Pigeon inventor of Pigeon English, 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:20pm

    So you're now with Trump that should reduce ties and trade?

    Or is this just yet another vehicle for attacking Trump -- your lead paragraph, which always reveals a writer's focus -- winding up lamely with mild rebuke and definitely never a call for action against hostile Communist giant?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:21pm

      Re: So you're now with Trump that should reduce ties and trade?

      What "call for action" do you suggest? We've amplified China's sphere of influence through outsourcing our manufacturing there so we don't really have any leverage to punish them. Unless we start making trade agreements so it's feasible to manufacture in the US again (which Trump did NOT do), we're going to end up being on the losing end of negotiations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:28pm

        And good luck getting those agreements made in the first place. Most companies with Chinese manufacturing deals would pay the corporate equivalent of pennies for the use of Chinese sweatshop labor before they ever pay full-time wages to American workers (and deal with all those pesky worker safety regulations).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Ho Ming Pigeon inventor of Pigeon English, 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:33pm

    @"The truth has nothing to fear from investigation"

    But leftists / globalists / corporatists / communists do, that's why they suppress it, using their hidden tactics and self-serving definitions, their legal fictions posing as "persons" with "First Amendment rights" to control all speech on the Internet.

    .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:33pm

      Re: @"The truth has nothing to fear from investigation"

      Prime examples: the Hunter Biden story suppressed by Twitter and Facebook, plus even hints that there actually is huge amount of electoral fraud.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:17pm

        hints that there actually is huge amount of electoral fraud

        Given the lack of evidence that agrees with you — even Trump’s legal team has yet to produce evidence credible enough to stand on its own in a court of law — I can see only two possible conclusions to draw: Either widespread electoral fraud didn’t happen or Democrats are so crafty and intelligent that they cheated well enough to hide all of their tracks (but somehow failed to rig the Senate races, which were decided by the exact same ballots used to decide the presidency).

        Which one is it?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Ho Ming Pigeon inventor of Pigeon English, 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:33pm

      Re: @"The truth has nothing to fear from investigation"

      Of course, here on Techdirt, all I can expect is to be censored for raising the Truth!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Ho Ming Pigeon inventor of Pigeon English, 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:34pm

      Re: @"The truth has nothing to fear from investigation"

      YUP, was BLOCKED after one made comment!

      That's Admin action, not some flaw. No one else reports this, only the censored dissenter.

      And didn't get in until abandoned "Reply" mode, hmm.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Ho Ming Pigeon inventor of Pigeon English, 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:37pm

      Re: @"The truth has nothing to fear from investigation"

      AND SO, not definitely knowing comments are being blocked here, I flail around and shorten them. So blame Maz for the several comments. I don't want mine to be mistaken for commercial -- that is, spam -- either, so it's handy to make a swathe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 1:21pm

        No, Brainy, we’ll blame you for thinking the spamfilter exists for only you to brute force your way through it with all the care and thought of a violent rapist. I’ve had comments caught by the filter before, but I didn’t submit the same comment over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I finally broke through. I moved on with my life and let the Techdirt mods decide whether (and when) my comment would show up.

        This site really is the most important thing you do with your daily life, huh? Please seek help for your psychotic obsession with Techdirt.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2020 @ 4:03pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't want mine to be mistaken for commercial -- that is, spam

        Here's a tip: you're terrible at that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      You're a Gazelle! (profile), 29 Dec 2020 @ 12:50pm

      Re: @"The truth has nothing to fear from investigation"

      Off topic, abusive, trolling and SPAM. Bye bye!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2020 @ 3:49am

    Four years for doing ones job. What is the punishment for not doing ones job?

    When between a rock and a hard place, go sideways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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