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Fang Bin

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Fang Bin
DisappearedFebruary 9, 2020
Wuhan, China
StatusFound May 2, 2023
Known forBroadcasting images of Wuhan during the COVID-19 pandemic
Chinese name

Fang Bin (Chinese: 方斌; pinyin: Fāng bīn) is a Chinese businessman, citizen journalist and whistleblower who used YouTube and WeChat to broadcast images of Wuhan during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was arrested several times between February 1 and 9, 2020.

Personal life[edit]

Fang Bin was living in Wuhan, Hubei in January 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak hit China.[1]


Fang recorded his first video on January 25, 2020. His shots mostly show himself and the situation in different districts of Wuhan, and attracted a few thousand views. Videos were uploaded to YouTube to bypass the government's censorship on domestic platforms. While direct access to foreign platforms such as YouTube is blocked in China, they may remain accessible through virtual private networks.[2]

First arrest[edit]

On February 1, 2020, Fang released a new video showing the piling up of corpses at the back of a minivan in front of a Wuhan hospital.[2] The video was shared on Twitter by Chinese journalist Jennifer Zeng.[1] Fang was arrested on the same day, warned and eventually released during the night.[2]

Arrests of whistleblowers[edit]

In February 2020, Fang and two other citizen journalists and whistleblowers, Chen Qiushi and Li Zehua, were arrested and went missing in Wuhan. Chen, a lawyer who arrived in Wuhan on January 23, disappeared first on February 6; one week prior, he had uploaded a video criticising the Chinese government's manipulation of information which ended with the sentence "I am not afraid to die! You think I am afraid of you communist party?".[3][4] Li, another citizen journalist, went missing in late February,[5] but reappeared in April posting a neutral, patriotic video, in contrast to his previous tone.[6]

Two days before Chen's arrest, on February 4, the police came twice to Fang's apartment. He recorded the scene and refused to let them in without a warrant, worried that they had come in large numbers to arrest him (he counted at least four officers).[3] Fang kept making videos from his apartment during the following days, criticising the government's propaganda and its choice to arrest Chen and Li Wenliang.[7] On February 9, he released his last video: a 12-second clip showing a piece of paper with the sentence "all citizens resist, hand power back to the people" written on it.[7][8] In February 2022, Radio Free Asia reported that Fang was possibly held at the Wuhan Jiang'an District Police Station.[9]

In May 2023, it was reported that Fang had returned to his home in Wuhan following three years of imprisonment.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, Joe (April 16, 2020). "Three coronavirus whistleblowers still missing after two months". Metro. Archived from the original on April 17, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Coronavirus: Why have two reporters in Wuhan disappeared?". BBC. February 14, 2020. Archived from the original on February 29, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Lawyer Chen Qiushi documenting coronavirus epicentre disappears". South China Morning Post. February 10, 2020. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Kuo, Lily (February 10, 2020). "Coronavirus: journalist missing in Wuhan as anger towards Chinese authorities grows". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 10, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  5. ^ Varghese, Johnlee (February 29, 2020). "Where is Li Zehua? Rogue former CCTV journalist who reported horrific details out of Coronavirus hit Wuhan livestreams arrest". International Business Times. Archived from the original on April 7, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  6. ^ Kuo, Lily (April 22, 2020). "Missing Wuhan citizen journalist reappears after two months". The Guardian. Archived from the original on April 23, 2020. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Fang Bin is second Chinese citizen journalist to vanish while reporting from coronavirus epicentre". South China Morning Post. February 14, 2020. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Li, Jane (February 12, 2020). "Another citizen journalist covering the coronavirus has gone missing in Wuhan". Quartz. Archived from the original on January 31, 2021. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  9. ^ "方斌被指关押在武汉看守所 官方拒绝证实". Radio Free Asia (in Simplified Chinese). February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  10. ^ Tsoi, Grace (May 2, 2023). "Fang Bin: China Covid whistleblower returns home to Wuhan after jail".
  11. ^ McCarthy, Simone; Liu, Juliana (May 4, 2023). "Wuhan citizen journalist who documented Covid outbreak released after three years detained". CNN.