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Chinese social media quote ‘Les Mis’ to protest coronavirus censorship

Chinese social media quote ‘Les Mis’ to protest coronavirus censorship

A track from the musical Les Misérables is making the rounds on Chinese social media after the loss of life of Li Wenliang, the physician credited because the coronavirus whistleblower. 

The musical’s “Can You Hear The People Sing?” has change into rallying cry for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. In the musical and its 2012 film adaptation, the track is sung to incite a civilian rebellion towards the oppressive French monarchy. As protests picked up once more in June 2019, Chinese music streaming websites took down the track, citing copyright causes. 

Now, it is being quoted on social media websites like Weibo as Chinese individuals grieve the loss of life of a “martyr” and “hero.” But lots of the posts praising Li are disappearing, Quartz experiences.

Li and 7 different individuals shared data concerning the early circumstances of coronavirus in late December. An ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, he instructed his medical faculty alumna group on WeChat about seven pneumonia circumstances that have been comparable to SARS, which killed greater than 700 individuals in 2003. On Jan. three, the police summoned Li to signal a letter chastising him for “making untrue comments,” and made him promise to cease his “illegal behavior.” 

“We hope you can calm down and reflect on your behavior,” the letter says. Li posted a photograph of it, together with his signature and fingerprint on the backside, on Weibo. “We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice.” 

Per week later, Li contracted the virus from a affected person on the hospital. He died on Thursday.

“If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better,” Li instructed the New York Times in an interview shortly earlier than he died. “There should be more openness and transparency.”

On Weibo and WeChat, offended social media customers are quoting the enduring Les Misérables track. One Weibo consumer posted a clip of “Do You Hear The People Sing?” and captioned it, “Has my mouth been sealed? I can still roar silently!” in accordance to a translation by Quartz.

Social media customers are additionally drawing comparisons to Chernobyl, the nuclear catastrophe that Russian officers tried to cowl up in 1986. Trending posts embrace screenshots of HBO’s Chernobyl, which centered on how the federal government’s makes an attempt at hiding the catastrophe got here at deadly value to its individuals. 

One WeChat put up, seen greater than 100,000 instances, declared an unofficial state funeral for Li. It quotes Valery Legasov, considered one of chemists investigating the meltdown. 

“What is the cost of lies,” the quote reads. “It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.”

And in Wuhan itself, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, residents shouted from their condo buildings in tribute to Li. 

Before Li’s loss of life was introduced, the subject “I want freedom of speech” was trending on Weibo. It has since disappeared, however not earlier than drawing 1.eight million views.

On Friday, China’s prime anti-corruption department stated it could examine Wuhan for “issues raised by the people in connection with Dr. Li Wenliang.”

Weibo, nonetheless, continues to be censored. In a discover on Wednesday, the federal government mandated that China’s prime web corporations like Tencent, Baidu, and Bytedance “conduct special supervision” on any content material associated to the epidemic. NPR experiences that as well as to the mandate, the Communist Party despatched over 300 state media reporters to Wuhan and the higher Hubei space to counteract damaging protection from different reporters.

Shortly earlier than his loss of life, Li instructed impartial Chinese outlet Caixin, “A healthy society should not have only one kind of voice.”

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