Last night, news spread about the passing of Dr. Li Wenliang. He was the Chinese doctor who tried to warn China about the coronavirus in December. The Chinese government attempted to silence his claims by arresting him.
Had they listened to him and other “whistleblowers”, the virus may not have spread into a global emergency.
“In retrospect, we should highly praise them,” said Zeng Guang. “They were wise before the outbreak.” Guang serves as the chief epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) and shares similar sentiments as others who wish we had listened to Dr. Li.
Earlier this week, Wenliang spoke to CNN from his hospital bed. “I only wanted to remind my university classmates to be careful,” he shared when asked about the coronavirus warning.
China residents are uneasy.
Many Chinese residents have been sounding off on social media. The outrage has been based around the government’s censorship of Dr. Wenliang and others who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus.
They don’t use our popular social sites like Twitter and Facebook, but they have similar outlets. On their “Twitter-like” platform ‘Weibo’ the hashtags “The Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology” and “We want freedom of speech” quickly gained tens of thousands of views before being deleted by the government.
Then, another hashtag, “I want freedom of speech,” picked up 1.8 million views before also being deleted.
Some of the posts call for freedom of speech and also seek to bring the Chinese people together. “Countless young people will mature overnight after today: the world is not as beautiful as we imagined,” one user wrote. “Are you angry? If any of us here is fortunate enough to speak up for the public in the future, please make sure you remember tonight’s anger.”
China’s image is salient.
Seeking to understand Chinese culture more, I did one of my final papers on the Chinese. In research I discovered a trend where China is obsessed with protecting its image. In fact, that’s the reason why they don’t allow their citizens to use traditional social media outlets.
It’s like they like to shield their people from the world. Creating a “margin of error” for their culture.
Personally, I believe that same desire for the image of perfection is what caused the government to silence the early coronavirus warnings. The global outrage and international quarantine wouldn’t have been good for business.
In retrospect, neither is what the country is dealing with today but I digress.
The social impact of being the hub for a apocalyptic-like virus (or, at least that’s what media outlets make it seem like) could come with heavy financial implications.
Carrying Dr. Li’s legacy.
The 34-year old doctor lived and died according to an oath that he took to protect his people. He saw something that was alarming and sounded the alarm. He paid the ultimate sacrifice as a doctor but his legacy of upholding his oath and responsibility; well that’s ours to bear.