MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong, known for his fights with traditional martial artists, has spoken out about the disappearance of Chinese journalist and human rights lawyer Chen Quishi; who has been missing since reporting on the coronavirus epidemic (per Radio Free Asia).
Since at least 2019 Xu and Chen have expressed mutual support for one another online, specifically when speaking out in favour of protestors who were battling Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill.
Xu and Chen have also bonded over government censorship; both men have had social media accounts mysteriously wiped and taken down.
Chen, whose online presence was largely blocked within China, traveled to Wuhan in January to report on the coronavirus. There he visited hospital sites and spoke with locals about the spreading virus, which has since claimed over 1,000 lives and infected over 60,000 people (per official numbers).
In his reporting Chen claimed that doctors and hospital workers were overworked and using insufficient medical supplies. On January 30th he published a video on his YouTube channel showing crowded hospitals with people lying in the corridors.
Chen disappeared on February 6th.
Speaking on his YouTube channel Xu revealed that Chen’s family had been visited by both local and state security police. Xu revealed that the family was informed that Chen had been detained.
“They informed Qiushi’s mother and father that he had been placed under restriction, in isolation. His parents immediately wanted to know where and how he had been placed in isolation. The police wouldn’t answer that, just said they were informing them as required by law.”
Xu also said that, because Chen had been unreachable by phone for a number of days, Chen may have had his phone and devices “forcibly confiscated”. Xu said he believed Chen was in an “enforced” isolation as a direct result of his reporting from hospitals in Wuhan.
In his reporting Chen said he suspected something like this would happen to him. In one of his YouTube videos he said, “I have the coronavirus in my face, and the entire law enforcement system of China on my tail. But I will carry on reporting from Wuhan for as long as I am still alive. If I’m not afraid to die, why would I fear the Communist Party?”
Earlier this month Wuhan based doctor Li Wenliang died from the coronavirus. On December 30th, Li — who has been described as a ‘coronavirus whistleblower’ — used the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat to warn doctors across China about the threat of the illness.