Wuhan Citizen Journalist Who Reported About COVID Still Missing After A Year

Fang Bin

It has been a year since Chinese citizen journalist Fang Bin was detained by the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) authorities for reporting on the early days of the COVID-19 breakout in Wuhan.

According to Radio Free Asia, Fang was being held incommunicado since March 5 and his family has since then refrained from speaking to the media about his case for fear of government retribution.

According to the RFA's sources, Fang was captured by authorities on alleged "incitement to subvert state power," but his charge was later changed to "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," an accusation often hurled at peaceful demonstrations of CCP opposition. But the disappearance of the Wuhan citizen journalist is sparking concern from human rights groups and those who are close to him.

Fang was captured by the police after he took to social media to post footage from various Wuhan hospitals during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 breakout.

On February 1, 2020, he posted a video recording of five dead bodies from the Wuhan No. 5 Hospital. The Wuhan citizen journalist was initially detained on February 10. Fang caught the attention of authorities when he accused the CCP of failing to handle the early stages of the pandemic and presiding over a "man-made disaster" versus a natural one.

U.S.-based dissident in exile Cai Xia took to Twitter to express her concern for Fang, writing, "It has been a year, and there is still no news of Fang Bin, which is worrying. We mustn't forget about Fang Bin, or stop looking for him."

The Wuhan citizen journalist has not been forgotten by friends and family who continue to contact authorities for updates on his situation. A person who hid behind the name Xu told the RFA that Fang's sister and son, who works in Beijing, kept mum on the Wuhan citizen journalist's situation, and revealed that "No lawyer is involved in the case."

He added that it was "hugely worrying that there has been no news," especially after they'd hoped there would be news following the U.S. presidential elections and President Biden's inauguration, which would hopefully somehow ease tensions between the U.S. and China.

Fang is just one of the many Wuhan citizen journalists that the CCP have captured and detained for over a year now.

DW reported that during the early days of the pandemic, young residents in eastern China started to question state media reports on the coronavirus, deeming them "untrustworthy." It was the Wuhan citizen journalists who were able to provide truthful insight into what was really going on in the city.

Soon afterwards, the CCP authorities cracked down on Wuhan citizen journalists, including Fang and Zhang Zhan, a Christian journalist who was sentenced to four years in prison after covering the coronavirus outbreak.

After a year of detention, Zhang had lost considerable weight and looked malnourished and "almost unrecognizable," her defense lawyer Ren Quanniu said in December. Human rights advocates and groups continue to call for their release and pardon from prison.