Chen Qiushi, a 34-year-old Chinese blogger who was staying in Wuhan, has disappeared.
Chen started posting videos to YouTube about the Coronavirus epidemic and its effects on January 25th. The videos feature footage of hospitals in Wuhan and Qiushi speaking directly into the camera.
Qiushi’s videos are popular- his original video posts have millions of views, and even reposts of his vlogs with subtitles amass thousands of views for other users on YouTube.
The 34-year-old Chinese lawyer/blogger was staying in Wuhan, China, when the city was locked down. Chen traveled to the city specifically to cover the outbreak, and started posting videos to YouTube a few days later, on January 25th, which feature footage of hospitals in Wuhan and Qiushi speaking directly to the camera.
Qiushi was active on multiple social media accounts, tweeting and video logging every day. He covered the struggles of the citizens living in Wuhan and criticized the government’s response and lack of resources in addressing the virus.
The harsh conditions of Wuhan’s hospitals - overworked staff, lack of basic supplies (like face masks), and patients exposed in close proximity to dead bodies left lingering in waiting rooms are some of the images his videos show.
One tweet from February 4th featured a video showing two dead bodies lying in a tiny hospital room, with Chen writing “We have collected enough evidence that medical, emergency and funeral services in Wuhan have been overloaded. I will no longer shoot and track death and cremation. Because everyone should already have a judgment in mind, I really can't bear to disturb the deceased again and again.”
“I only report what I see and hear” Chen says in a video. “I’m scared. I fear the legal authority of the government of China.”
He had also previously posted pro-democracy protest videos last year.
Chen has been missing for 8 days. His family have assumed control of his Twitter account and are using it to spread awareness.
They fear that he may have been forcibly quarantined, or worse. Even in quarantine, they say, he should be able to reach out to them.
The ruling Communist party of China is known to not take criticism lightly, and fighting to maintain control of information and imagery has been consistent of the regime since 1949. Censorship and shitting down free speech is not uncommon. In fact, Qiushi May only be one of two citizen journalists that the government has silenced. Gao Fei, another citizen journalist, was detained by police shortly after posting a criticism of President Xi Jinping online.
In one of his final posts, he stated that the police have contacted him and questioned his family.
Rumors among friends close to Chen are that he was forcibly quarantined for 14 days, but concerns over a lack of communication are high.
Since his disappearance, family and friends have not had any luck contacting or learning the whereabouts of Chen.
Qiushi’s Youtube page features a slogan, “Don’t sing the praises of the wealthy and powerful, speak only for the common people.”