The United States strongly condemns the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) sham prosecution and conviction of citizen journalist Zhang Zhan on December 28. We call on the PRC government to release her immediately and unconditionally. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has shown once again it will do whatever it takes to silence those who question the Party’s official line, even regarding crucial public health information.
Lying is a feature, not a bug of authoritarian regimes. The CCP restricted and manipulated information about the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan from the start and brutally silenced other brave truth-tellers, such as Dr. Li Wenliang, Chen Qiushi, and Fang Bin. Because of the CCP’s gross malfeasance, the rest of the world relied heavily on uncensored reports from citizen journalists like Zhang to understand the true situation in Wuhan after the CCP-imposed strict media controls were enforced and a controllable outbreak turned into a deadly global pandemic. Her hasty trial, to which foreign observers were denied access, shows how fearful the CCP is of Chinese citizens who speak the truth.
The PRC government’s fear of transparency and its ongoing repression of fundamental freedoms are a sign of weakness, not strength, and a threat to all of us. The United States will always support the right of Chinese citizens to express themselves freely and peacefully.