China has arrested hundreds for speaking out about coronavirus, reports show

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Chinese authorities on Sunday arrested a constitutional lawyer for posting an open letter on social media that criticized the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its suppression of free speech, according to reports.

In his letter posted on WeChat, Zhang Xuezhong, 43, said China’s absence of nonstate media and the prevention of medical experts from providing advice to the public showed that “the government’s long-term tight control society and people has almost completely destroyed the organization and self-help capabilities of Chinese society.”

He denounced China’s government as backward and said “the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 epidemic is a good illustration of the problem.”

“The best way to fight for freedom of expression is for everyone to speak as if we already have freedom of speech,” Zhang wrote on the WeChat post alongside the letter.

The letter, addressed to the National People’s Congress (NPC), was circulated online, according to the South China Morning Post.

The next day, three police cars arrive at this house in Shanghai and arrested him, Wen Kejian, an independent political analyst, told the paper.

Zhang’s arrest has highlighted China’s zero-tolerance approach to dissidents. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 late last year, hundreds of people, including doctors, journalists and lawyers, have been arrested in China for merely speaking out about the virus, according to reports from human rights activists. – READ MORE

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