China: Imprisoned Citizen Journalist's Sentence Concludes

China: Imprisoned Citizen Journalist's Sentence Concludes
Image copyright: Pierre Crom/Contributor/Getty Images News via Getty Images

The Facts

  • Zhang Zhan, a Chinese citizen journalist who was jailed in 2020 for reporting on Beijing's COVID lockdown policies in Wuhan, was reportedly set to be released Monday as her four-year prison sentence concluded.

  • The 40-year-old former lawyer from Shanghai traveled to Wuhan in early 2020 to report on the government's attempt to contain COVID in the city where the pandemic began. That May, she was convicted of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble."

The Spin

Anti-China narrative

The quarrels Zhan picked weren't with the truth-seeking public but rather with the authoritarian government that didn't like her exposing its faulty COVID policies. Zhang was heroic in her attempt to report the news and remained courageous throughout her time as a political prisoner and she should finally be freed from her unjust sentence.

Pro-China narrative

The West should stop interfering and trying to use a criminal like Zhan to tarnish China's reputation and earn political points. Zhan violated Chinese law, and for that, she is paying the price. Zhan is not a hero and shouldn't be treated as such.

Establishment-critical narrative

Western governments commenting on press freedom in other countries are hypocrites, considering Julian Assange remains at the UK's Belmarsh prison. The UK and the US cannot be taken seriously on this issue when they put their own journalists in a jail meant to hold murderers and pedophiles. This can't be a "rules for thee but not for me" situation.

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