Inside Wuhan: China’s struggle to control the virus — and the narrative


Hao Jun, in his late forties, is one of a small but tight-knit group of dissidents based in Wuhan who took it upon themselves to document the earliest days of coronavirus, a period that has become a closely guarded secret by China’s Communist party, writes FT Beijing correspondent Don Weinland in a must-read account of what really happened in Wuhan: 

Distrust has been part of Hao Jun’s ’s outlook since his days as a university student in Wuhan in 1989, when protests swept campuses across the country, culminating with the Tiananmen massacre that June.  Some of his anger against the Communist party runs deeper. With tears in his eyes, he tells of an impoverished childhood, when his family was forced to eat radish skins while officials lived in comfort……

The Communist party’s official timeline of events, The Chinese Way, makes no mention of Dr Li Wenliang, the national hero of the epidemic.

In what has been perhaps the most direct written attack on the Communist party during the outbreak, real-estate tycoon and high-ranking party member Ren Zhiqiang, based in Beijing, penned a missive in early February in which he accused the party of incompetence and called Xi Jinping a clown, Weinland adds.

“When shameless and ignorant people attempt to resign themselves to the stupidity of the great leader, society becomes a mob that is hard to develop and sustain,” he wrote. His essay was shared online with a group of friends, and later circulated more widely on Chinese social media, the FT’s Weinland adds:

Ren became incommunicado in March, a close acquaintance told the FT. Some have noted that his credentials as a party insider made his criticisms an unignorable threat to the government’s narrative of a quick and transparent handling of the crisis. …..But for people such as Hao Jun, the outbreak has been less of a linear tale of adversity and triumph. Instead it is a reminder of the constant struggle to live outside the Communist party’s sanitized narrative

“Some of us will disappear. This is nothing new,” he says from his seat in the park, his mask pulled down to his chin, exposing a cheerful grin. “But we will keep trying to show you what is real.”  RTWT

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