Police have detained yet another journalist who reported on the state of the coronavirus crisis in the Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this year. The move comes as China continues to face growing accusations of a COVID-19 cover-up from the international community.
According to Radio Free Asia, lawyer-turned-journalist Zhang Zhan was taken by authorities from Wuhan's Caiguang Hotel near Hankou railway station on the night of May 14. Though Zhang is originally from Shanghai, she had traveled to Wuhan in early February to cover the emerging health calamity.
When a friend arrived at the hotel the next day, the individual was told that Zhang had checked out the night before. When the friend continued to press hotel staff, asking if Zhang had left the premises alone, the friend was told that "it's not convenient to discuss the details."
The phrase is commonly used by activists to tacitly suggest the intervention of Chinese authorities.
"You probably know what happened," the staff member allegedly added.
Since then, a second friend of the journalist named Gao Fei has claimed that Zhang is currently being held at the Shanghai Pudong New District Detention Center. The charge cited against the journalist is "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble."
In a spooky foreshadowing of events to come, Zhang had discussed the dangers her profession faced in an interview with Radio Free Asia just days before she was taken away.
"What's the point of staying safe?" Zhang said just one week ago. "What will you do with that safety? Learn to co-exist with an evil regime?"
"You really shouldn't concern yourself with this stuff; let them detain me, if that's what they want to do," she continued. "We're in prison anywhere in China, whether we're in jail or on the outside."
"What difference is there? None, from my point of view," she concluded.Meanwhile, friends are sounding the alarm about Zhang's detention.
"There is absolutely no room to speak out nowadays," Gao warned. "The truth of what's going on is being locked down."
"It's about protecting the regime... killing the chickens to frighten the monkeys," he added.
Zhang is far from the first reporter to face consequences after writing about the coronavirus pandemic. As was previously covered by The Inquisitr, fellow journalist Chen Qiushi was taken away by police on February 6 after he began filming inside hospitals in Wuhan. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Meanwhile, China continues to face accusations that it has not been transparent about the pandemic. For example, the Middle Kingdom originally claimed that around 2,353 people died in the city of Wuhan. More recent reports suggest the number is substantially higher, with some estimating as many as 47,000 fatalities.
More than 100 countries have now called for an independent investigation into the origins of the disease (via The New York Times).