China COVID: why people pay tribute to the “martyr” Dr. Li Wenliang

Key points
  • Earlier this week, Chinese officials announced a nationwide easing of tight COVID restrictions.
  • Since then, hundreds of Chinese internet users have posted on Dr. Li Wenliang’s social network.
  • Li was among the doctors in Wuhan who sounded the alarm early on about COVID-19 in 2019. He later died from the virus.
Hundreds of Chinese netizens have paid tribute to “martyr” Dr. Li Wenliang, who was the first to report the COVID-19 outbreak after the pandemic.
Li was among a group of doctors in the central city of Wuhan who alerted on social media of a new SARS-like illness spreading in December 2019 and were reprimanded by police for spreading “rumors”.

He later died of COVID-19 in early 2020, sparking an outpouring of grief and anger on a scale and intensity rarely seen in China.

Lee remains a powerful symbol of frustration with the government’s crackdown on independent voices.

Nearly three years after his death, his profile on Chinese social media Weibo received hundreds of comments after officials on Wednesday announced a nationwide easing of tough COVID restrictions.

“Hero and Martyr”

“A hobbit like you is irreplaceable, ordinary and small, but determined and brave, inadvertently becoming a hero … and a martyr,” said one of the commentators.
“Those who blow the whistle are always worthy of remembrance,” wrote another. “I look forward to a more transparent society.”

Some users have paid tribute to Lee’s courage, while others have shared their frustration with the strict COVID rules as well as concern over the sudden change in government policy.

“I don’t know if you will be disappointed” by the government’s refusal, one user wrote.
“As a PCR specialist, I’m tired of chasing positive cases, too many samples to process, information to enter into a system that doesn’t seem to end, a growing wave of public complaints,” they added.
“Brother, it’s over! You were worried about the pandemic on your deathbed,” wrote another.

“Spring has finally come!”

Officials announce easing of COVID restrictions

Chinese Communist Party officials on Wednesday announced sweeping changes to their COVID rules that curbed the spread of the virus but sparked protests and put a brake on the world’s second-largest economy.
The easing, which includes allowing infected people with mild symptoms to quarantine at home and refusing testing for people traveling domestically, is the clearest sign that Beijing is abandoning its zero-COVID policy to allow people to live with the virus.
But health officials continue to warn that they will be closely monitoring mortality trends and the adequacy of medical resources in case a return to tougher measures is needed.

Many of the changes announced by the National Health Commission (NHC) reflect steps already taken in various cities and regions in recent days following the COVID control protests, which were the biggest show of public discontent since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. .