Report: China Frees COVID 'Citizen Journalist' After 3 Years

Image copyright: AFP [via The Guardian]

The Facts

  • Fang Bin, a Chinese citizen journalist who disappeared after reporting on the COVID outbreak in Wuhan, was released on Sunday after three years of detention, according to multiple reports citing people familiar with the matter.

  • The reports claim that Fang was taken to Beijing, where he has family, before being returned to Wuhan on Monday, where he currently remains under observation. Human rights groups claim neither city will accept him.

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

COVID accelerated the decline of press freedoms in a nation that already suffers from a dearth of them. Fang Bin and others took grave risks to speak the truth about China's COVID façade, and they should be commended for their bravery, not punished. All similarly imprisoned journalists must be freed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Pro-China narrative

Provoked by Western actors with a vested interest in destabilizing the country, these so-called citizen journalists — who violated Chinese laws — were duped into spreading falsehoods, distorting China's robust COVID response. The West should scrutinize its own handling of COVID before condemning others.

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