Fang Bin, COVID-19 Whistleblower and Falun Gong Practitioner, Detained in Wuhan

COVID-19 whistleblower Fang Bin in 2020.

COVID-19 whistleblower Fang Bin in 2020.

When the pandemic began to spread in early 2020, an average citizen by the name of Fang Bin took up the helm and exposed the hidden truth arising out of the chaos within Wuhan, China to the entire world.

Covered by the likes of BBC, CCN, New York Times, Human Rights Watch, Radio Free Asia, NBC News and SCMP, Fang Bin was one of the most famed whistleblowers who reported the truth of transpired events in Wuhan in those crucial first months. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) downplayed ongoing events, Fang exposed what was really happening to the world. He provided video footage of overcrowded Wuhan hospitals, showing the piles upon piles of body bags as early as January 25th, 2020 for the world to see. After it was filmed, he disseminated it outside of China through Youtube, a blocked platform in mainland China.

This content, in turn, rattled the Chinese government as it did not mirror the promoted state-run media propaganda. The CCP’s goal was to deceive its citizens and the world that the Party had an impeccable COVID-19 management plan. The Politburo’s media and foreign policy strategies during this period are similar to those used during its systematic coverup of the SARS outbreak in 2003, revealing a consistent pattern of state censorship when it comes to the Chinese regime’s control of society.

Fang’s courageous exposure to the truth led to several arrests spanning February 1 through February 9, 2020. After his first arrest, where six policemen showed up to his door in HAZMAT suits, the police station had to release Fang due to public backlash stemming from his journalist privilege and protection rights. Chinese authorities did not let him off without a stern warning, though.

There should only be one voice, otherwise it will create chaos. – Wuhan Police to Fang Bin

Police said this to mean only the government should be speaking to the world about the coronavirus that China has unleashed on the world, so the propaganda can be carefully crafted and go unchallenged. It was a thinly veiled threat. The right to information and freedom of expression is a fundamental right, but people under the Chinese Communist Party are barred from this freedom.

In a post on February 3, 2020, Fang Bin told his followers that he had received thousands of friend requests on WeChat. It took him hours to respond to all of them, he said, noting that the Chinese state-run media warned of serious consequences for anyone who “spread rumors” about the virus.

However, roughly two days later, police returned to his home, badgering him, spurring Fang to record his encounters in daily vlogs. In his last video, dated February 9th, 2020, he urged all Chinese people to resist the communist regime by proclaiming, “Hand the regime’s power back to the people.”

After posting that video, police returned to his home and forcibly arrested him. Fang has since disappeared and there were no updates about his condition or whereabouts for nearly two years. He was previously incarcerated for his faith in Falun Gong, so his loved ones are extremely worried about his condition.

According to The Epoch Times, on November 24th, 2020, a trusted Wuhan official told the news outlet via phone that Fang was alive, and his case needed more time to go through legal processes.

Fang’s case is related to the pandemic, so it’s complicated. We [the Jiang’an District Court and District Procuratorate (prosecutor)] need to do more research before we can submit our report [to Wuhan Intermediate Court]. We will apply for a postponement of the hearing. – Wuhan Official (name and position have been withheld for safety reasons)

Reports suggest Fang is detained in Jiang’an Detention Center located in Wuhan. To this day, he continues to be held against his will and with no release date in sight. Since Fang has had no contact with anyone outside the detention center, there’s heightened concern from his family and international community.

His family has strongly advocated for proper representation on his case, but progress has stalled significantly due to lack of information and heightened police intimidation. Moreover, Falun Gong practitioners are refused proper representation, if any at all, in most Chinese courts. Presiding judges across the country use Article 300 to sentence practitioners to labor camps and prisons.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has stated, “Journalists are a vital source of information on the ground, especially during a public health emergency, and they must not be targeted for their coverage. The IFJ expresses deep concern about Fang’s current status and urges the Chinese authorities to release him immediately.”

Fang’s efforts won’t be for naught. You can start by sharing his story and allowing the world to know what happened to this hero—the journalist who may have saved many lives due to his fearless quest to let the truth be known. The more awareness we bring to this story, highlighting the brave steps Fang took to expose the truth, we can apply pressure to the Chinese government and Wuhan local officials for his release.