Jiang Yanyong (born October 4, 1931) is a Chinese physician from Beijing who publicized a coverup of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China. Born to the famous Hangzhou Zhejiang Xinye Bank family, Jiang was the chief physician of the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing and a senior member of the Communist Party of China.
Dr. Jiang attended Yenching University. Jiang was inspired to "chose a career in medicine after seeing an aunt die of tuberculosis and, in 1952, entered Peking Union Medical College". In 1954, Jiang joined the People’s Liberation Army. In 1957, Jiang "was assigned to the No. 301 Hospital in Beijing". In 1987, Jiang "was named its chief surgeon".
In 1989, Jiang was the chief physician of the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing, China. As a military doctor, Jiang held a rank within the People's Liberation Army equivalent to Major General. While there, he witnessed the results of the trauma inflicted on the students during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
While the SARS virus began spreading in China in late 2002 and early 2003, the number of cases being reported in mainland China was drastically understated by the government. On April 4, 2003, Jiang emailed an 800-word letter to Chinese Central Television -4 (CCTV4) and PhoenixTV (HongKong) reporting that fact. Although neither of the two replied or published his letter, the information was leaked to the Western news organizations. On April 8, 2003, Jiang was reached by a journalist from the Wall Street Journal through telephone interview. Later the same day, Susan Jakes, a Time journalist in Beijing also contacted Jiang. Time published the striking news right away with the title of "Beijing's SARS Attack". In this article, Jiang's letter was translated into English and, for the first time, the public was made aware of the actual situation in China. This letter forced the resignation of the Mayor of Beijing and the Minister of Public Health on April 21, 2003. The Chinese government began to actively deal with the growing epidemic. Most public health experts believe that this act prevented the disease from reaching pandemic proportions.
In February 2004, Jiang wrote an open letter to the Premier Wen Jiabao, several deputy premiers, the Politburo and many other members of the Chinese government. The letter asked for a re-examination of the responsibility borne by the Chinese government for the Tiananmen Square Massacre. A number of media sources indicate that because of Jiang Yanyong's senior rank the topic of what to do with him was discussed by the Politburo.
On June 2, 2004, two days before the 15th anniversary of the massacre, Jiang Yanyong's family in California reported that he and his elderly wife were missing from their house in Beijing after being arrested and placed under military custody. Many sources have indicated that while a number of high level members believed that Jiang should have been ignored, that his arrest was the result of personal intervention of Jiang Zemin (no relation), who as Chairman of the Central Military Commission ordered the arrest of Jiang Yanyong on the grounds of violating military discipline. On June 15, 2004, a source close to the Jiang family reported Hua Zhongwei, the elderly wife of Jiang Yanyong, was freed two weeks after being detained in secret. In early July 2004, it was alleged that Jiang was being subjected to indoctrination efforts by the Chinese military. She was said[who?] to be safe in her Beijing home. Jiang was released from Chinese custody on July 19, 2004. Jiang is the cousin of Chiang Yan-shih, a high-ranking Kuomintang official who once served as Secretary-General to the President of the Republic of China on Taiwan. This is significant as many feared that Jiang would be charged with spying for Taiwan.
In August 2004, Jiang was awarded a Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. According to RMAF.org.ph, the board of trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation "recognizes his brave stand for truth in China, spurring life-saving measures to confront and contain the deadly threat of SARS."
- "The 2004 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service". Ramon Magsaysay Foundation. August 31, 2004. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- Pan, Philip P. (July 5, 2004). "Chinese Pressure Dissident Physician". Washington Post. pp. A01. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- KAHN, JOSEPH (July 13, 2007). "China Hero Doctor Who Exposed SARS Cover-Up Barred U.S. Trip For Rights Award". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- Chinoy, Mike (July 20, 2004). "From hero to China's state villain". CNN. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- "Profile: China's 'honest doctor'". BBC News. March 8, 2004. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- Richard Spencer in Beijing (June 4, 2004). "Sars hero vanishes in Beijing anniversary swoop". Daily Telegraph.
- "China frees doctor who challenged Tiananmen record". CBC. July 21, 2004. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- Jiang Yanyong on China Digital Times
- Time Magazine 2003 Biography of Jiang Yanyong
- Time Magazine contents of the 2003 letter about SARS
- BBC Article on the missing Jiang Yanyong
- Translation of the text of the February 2004 letter written by Jiang Yanyong asking for a reexamination of the Tiananmen Square massacre
- Amnesty International article
- Human Rights Watch article
- NY Times article detailing release
- CITATION for Jiang Yanyong at the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation website
- Philip P. Pan's article in the New Republic