US Lawmaker Seeks Inquiry Into Disappearance of Chinese Journalists

April 2, 2020 Updated: April 2, 2020

WASHINGTON—A U.S. congressman is calling on the State Department to urge China to investigate the disappearance of three Chinese citizen journalists who sought to expose the impact of the CCP virus on the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In a letter dated March 31, Republican Representative Jim Banks asked the U.S. government to seek a probe into the fates of Fang Bin, Chen Qiushi and Li Zehua. According to media reports, they went missing after taking videos and publishing them online including images of overwhelmed hospitals and corpses piled in a minibus.

“All three of these men understood the personal risk associated with independently reporting on coronavirus in China, but they did it anyway,” Banks wrote, alleging the Chinese regime “imprisoned them—or worse.”

Fang Bin, a Wuhan clothes salesman, began filming his trips to hospitals around the locked-down city and posting the videos online in late January. The scenes showed long lines outside hospitals, patients clinging to life, and distraught family members.

Chen Qiushi, a 34-year-old lawyer-turned-citizen-journalist from eastern China, arrived in Wuhan on Jan. 24, a day after the city was placed under lockdown. Armed with a smartphone, he said he wanted to document stories about the city’s residents.

In just over two weeks, he published more than 100 posts on his YouTube and Twitter accounts—both platforms are banned in China—that drew millions of views. He filmed interviews with locals who had lost loved ones, patients lying on temporary beds lining hospital hallways, and, according to Chen, a body left under a blanket outside an emergency ward.

Li Zehua, a former anchor for Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, was the third video blogger arrested in the outbreak epicenter of Wuhan. Li arrived alone in Wuhan by train on Feb. 12, tracing the steps of Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin, who had been arrested by local police.

Over the two weeks, before the police got him, he visited the Baibuting residential compound, where many became infected after attending a large-scale banquet, interviewed a funeral home worker, and went to a local train station where migrant workers were said to be stranded.

The Chinese Embassy and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, first emerged in Wuhan in late December, sickening tens of thousands and upending life in the industrial city of 11 million people in central China.

China’s censorship policies have come under scrutiny since the virus outbreak amid allegations from online critics and local media that they potentially obscured the seriousness of the outbreak in its early stages.

The CCP virus has now spread to over 200 countries and territories.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.