Yesterday, Chinese Government officials announced the end of a 76-day lockdown of the city of Wuhan, China. The town known as the “epicenter” for the Covid-19 virus has suffered greatly over the past 5 months. The total death count in Wuhan from the Coronavirus will never be fully known although we can speculate it is well above the reported 2,500 deaths. While the people of Wuhan celebrated the ending of such a lockdown the Chinese Government are still grappling to keep control over their people. As people flood from the city of Wuhan there are worries of the disease being spread again throughout mainland China. However, there is something more concerning for China than the economic scar that the Wuhan Lockdown caused. It’s the social scar left by the martyr Li Wenliang the doctor who was the whistleblower of the seriousness of Covid-19.
At his deathbed Li Wenliang described how he believed in the importance of free speech. Li did what he knew was right in his heart and conscience. He had been defamed by authorities and denied medical attention due to his involvement in leaking to the world about the severity that Covid-19 posed to humanity.
The Chinese Government was quick in every attempt to shift the narrative. After his death party leaders painted the 34-year-old doctor as a hero. The leaders pinned the blame on local authorities and officials, and also increased measures to censor criticism towards the party. With these measures in place the Chinese Government may feel safe temporarily, but the people will remember.
A push for the freedom of speech has been one that has failed for years in the People’s Republic of China. With the problems that Covid-19 has presented to the country of China this is a time in which emerging protests of free speech can gain momentum. The government will do all they can to take control of the situation and suppress any attempt of protest.
While the lockdown in Wuhan has ended, more restrictions in other parts of China have just begun. Over 50,000 people have already traveled on planes and trains out of Wuhan. This new travel has already caused “confirmed cases” in china to have spike again in northern provinces. The second wave of Covid-19 in China is just beginning.
In closing I want to share my opinion on freedom of speech in China. Personally, I am optimistic that the Chinese People will have the freedom of speech in the future (the next 20 years). While the People’s Republic of China has been historically strong at suppressing and controlling their people, there will be too much room for error. As the Covid-19 pandemic settles and new conflicts arise there will be rebellion. I don’t believe China will be able to hold onto Taiwan without bloodshed and this influence will spread to the mainland. It may not come overnight, but the Chinese people will not remain suppressed forever. The freedom of speech is something worth dying for, just like our fathers in the American Revolution fought for their rights.