Report: Wuhan Central Hospital Doctors and Families Monitored, Kept from Travel

In this Feb. 7, 2020, file photo, people wearing masks attend a vigil for Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded for warning about the outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Hong Kong. China has taken the highly unusual move of exonerating the doctor who was reprimanded for warning about …
AP Photo/Kin Cheung

The family of Dr. Li Wenliang, the whistleblower ruthlessly silenced and punished by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for sounding an early warning about the coronavirus that eventually killed him, is still kept under close surveillance by the Chinese state a year after his death according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).

RFA quoted an official in the health administration of Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan is located, stating that Li’s widow, children, and elderly parents are still subjected to “stability maintenance” monitoring:

Faced with relentless pressure from the authorities, Li’s widow has taken the couple’s two children back to live in her hometown in provincial Hubei, the official, who gave only a surname Liu, told RFA.

The authorities have also put huge pressure on Li’s elderly parents, who have been unable to get over their son’s untimely death, to prevent them from talking to the media, Liu said.

Li died from the coronavirus in February 2020, a month after he wrote a social media post warning other doctors in Hubei about the spread of a mysterious new disease with characteristics reminiscent of the SARS virus. Li and seven other people in Wuhan were arrested for “spreading rumors” and subjected to humiliating punishments.

Li later became a folk hero for trying to raise the alarm, and there was remarkably widespread public outrage against China’s authoritarian government when Li died, especially after the CCP made clumsy efforts to conceal his death. The CCP retroactively reclassified Li as a heroic Communist Party martyr.

According to RFA’s sources, the CCP is still persecuting another of the Wuhan whistleblowers, Dr. Ai Fen. Ai ominously vanished from public view in March after criticizing the Communist Party’s leadership for mishandling the pandemic and lying about the dangers of the virus. 

RFA said Ai has been “misdiagnosed after problems with her vision,” suffered permanent damage to her eyesight, and is no longer permitted to work as a doctor.

Ai, who resurfaced months ago but is less willing to openly criticize the Chinese government, told RFA she was diagnosed with mild cataracts but actually had much more severe issues, leading to a detached retina. Ai believes she was misdiagnosed on purpose by a medical company linked to the Chinese police and military.

“They knew that there was a problem with my eye and didn’t tell me; they just watched my retina detach. I asked them for the scan from before the operation, and they actually gave me a fake,” she said.

RFA spoke to an anonymous doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital, where Li Wenliang worked and Ai Fen was once director of the emergency room, who said passports and travel documents have been confiscated from all of the hospital’s doctors as part of their “stability maintenance” program.

On Sunday, Chinese social media users commemorated the one-year anniversary of the “wrong” done to Li Wenliang by Chinese officials, marking the date he was brought to a police station in Wuhan and officially reprimanded for “seriously disrupting social order” with his warning about the coronavirus.

“Brother, you were reprimanded the same day last year. You were wronged and people remember,” one visitor wrote on Li’s Weibo page, which the South China Morning Post (SCMP) described as a virtual “wailing wall” for public frustrations. 

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