Disappeared, Lying or Dead? The Mysterious Case of a Missing Citizen Journalist Who Covered Wuhan Coronavirus

Published February 12th, 2020 - 07:17 GMT
Disappeared, Lying or Dead? The Mysterious Case of a Missing Citizen Journalist Who Covered Wuhan Coronavirus
News of Qiushi going missing sparked worry online and had people use the hashtag #FindQiushi (Twitter)

Chinese pro-government commentators are responding to news of a missing citizen journalist by saying he "likes the media attention" arguing that he's "staging his disappearance to generate international publicity."

Chen Qiushi is a lawyer and internet journalist who traveled to Wuhan weeks ago aiming to offer independent coverage of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the city.

Using social media, the journalist documented life events in the city where the coronavirus started last month including the building of a new hospital. He was also quite critical of the government's policies on handling the epidemic. 

In a video posted last week, Qiushi talked about being under the threat of law enforcement authorities but stressed that he will not back down and will keep reporting from Wuhan.

News of Qiushi going missing sparked worry online under the hashtag #FindQiushi, especially that his disappearance came a few days after the passing of a whistleblower Chinese doctor who exposed the outbreak in its early days.

However, another group on social media came to the defense of the Chinese government, accusing Qiushi of staging the whole thing as a publicity stunt, saying that he's a licensed lawyer who no longer practices law, but has started a media firm in Beijing instead.

Other people promoted a narrative that the missing journalist is probably under quarantine in Wuhan City where the coronavirus is estimated to have infected about 500k people.

In an interview with CBS, the Chinese ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai was asked a direct question about Chen Qiushi's case and whether he was detained by authorities. The ambassador responded by saying that he "had no information to share about him as he had never heard of him."


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