Wuhan Union Hospital doctor reveals Li Wenliang death, but state media and censors pounce
Friday, February 07, 2020
The drama surrounding Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang started to unfold at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night, when a verified neurosurgical doctor at Wuhan Union Hospital first revealed Li’s passing on Weibo in a now-deleted post.
At around 10:00 p.m. local time, state-run media outlets received a notice to strictly regulate coverage of Li’s condition, avoid issuing alerts and refrain from any commentary, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Global Times, which is affiliated with the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, posted at 10:44 p.m. Thursday that Li had died.
“Global Times’ reporters learned from several sources that Wuhan Central Hospital’s Dr. Li Wenliang died of pneumonia infected by the novel coronavirus tonight,” the outlet said in a post accompanied by a somber image of candles.
Bloomberg News also reported Li’s death, citing a person familiar with the matter and Chinese media.
Roughly an hour after the Global Times’s initial report, the post was deleted from two of its Weibo accounts.
Another message mourning the doctor by Hu Xijin, the Global Times’s editor-in-chief, was also removed.
Li’s death rapidly became a trending topic on the Chinese social-media platform Weibo around midnight local time, with the hashtags #DoctorLiPassedAway and #LiWenliangPassedAway attracting hundreds of millions of views.
Around 1:00 a.m. Beijing time, Hu from the Global Times suggested Li was alive and efforts were being made to save him. “We wish a miracle of life could happen,” Hu said in a new post.
The hospital said Li died at 2:58 a.m. Beijing time, or 1:58 p.m. in New York.
The Global Times posted a commentary after his death, saying that “we must be united to do the utmost to save the lives of other patients, and to keep more people from being infected by the virus that Dr. Li was among the very first to warn of.”-Illustartion: Badiucao, Australia-based political cartoonist