Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement on Dec. 29 condemning the Chinese Communist Party over its decision to imprison Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan.
Zhang, a 37-year-old former lawyer, was often critical of the Chinese regime over its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak when she was reporting on the ground in Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s pandemic. She arrived in Wuhan in February, then suddenly vanished in May. A month later, Chinese authorities confirmed that she had been arrested.
He added: “Her hasty trial, to which foreign observers were denied access, shows how fearful the CCP is of Chinese citizens who speak the truth.” He called on Beijing to release Zhang immediately and unconditionally.
Beijing has unleashed tight control of the press and social media since the start of the pandemic. According to Paris-based nonprofit Reporters Without Border (RSF), at least nine Chinese journalists or press freedom defenders have been arrested for their coverage of COVID-19-related issues.
Pompeo added that “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.”
Pompeo also mentioned early whistleblower Li Wenliang, who on Dec. 30 last year warned of an “unknown pneumonia” outbreak on Chinese social media.
“The #CCP owes the rest of the world a huge bill in damages and reparations,” Rogers wrote.
Alviani called on the international community to put pressure on Beijing to release Zhang and other detained journalists.